Great comments from last week’s restaurant-o-rama, and you guys are smarter than I am. Thanks for pointing out that I missed a few of my faves. Fugaise, the Dakota, Cosmos, and I Nonni are all in the conversation as well. So is jP, although he would be the first to tell you that he is doing less ambitious fare than others—a conscious, concept-driven decision because J. P. has the chops to do almost anything he wants to from a food standpoint. My wife and I dine there as often as possible (ditto I Nonni—a Zimmern family fave since day one).
Fugaise has great food, but the room is hard for me to sit in. That being said, Don Saunders does some great food when he wants to. Jack has Dakota kicking on all cylinders, and for a restaurant with that many seats, he works miracles. As far as Cosmos goes, the reason they lost their Editor's Choice designation is because of the chef change, but I am sure that once the new menus roll out and we have a chance to go there, they will garner the same kudos they had while Seth was cooking.
Time to clear out the reader mail bag . . . .
I just got back from Boston and ate at Shabu-Zen. It was wonderful! Just wondering if there is any type of restaurant [like that] here in the Twin Cities?
Sadly not, Nicole. I waxed poetic in this blog about Shabu Zen last year. I eat there every time I am in Boston (or try to). As I have often screamed at high decibels, this is a concept that would print money in the right location in this town. It’s cheap, fun, tastes great, is ideally suited for a cold weather town, and inexpensive to create from an operator standpoint. What more can I say?
From David (after reading my Restaurant Confidential column in May’s magazine):
Do you really think that no other restaurant critics in town have the experience needed to review restaurants?
What I said was, “The majority restaurant critics in this town . . . ," etc. Not all of the other critics. Most restaurant critics lack the right types of experience, pure and simple. With the explosion of food blogs, online magazines, new local weeklies and monthlies like Metro and Saint Paul Illustrated, there are a glut of food writers, most of whom have no idea what they are writing about. And many newspaper writers get assigned food detail despite having just spent three years working some local civic beat. While you don’t need to have played in the Rose Bowl to write about the game, you do need to have a wealth of perspective and a highly developed understanding of cooking (and restaurant operations) to write about food. Dara, Rick, and a small minority of other local scribes possess these qualities in spades. Just read their stuff regularly and you’ll see what I mean. With so many outlets these days it's not surprising that the bar has been lowered across the board. That will change over the years as audience expectations weed out the bores and the dunderheads. I could care less whether or not someone likes a restaurant—I want to know why they do and how they quantify it. That takes experience and perspective to convey, and it's ultimately the only way to build a reader’s faith.
I've looked for skirt steak everywhere. I drive to El Burrito Mercado often (from Edina), and they don't know what I'm talking about. I have asked for the name I've known it for, churrasco, and they don't know what it is. They suggest me to get the "carne para fajitas," and I think that it might be what I want, but still I don't know for sure. Is it the same thing?
Is there anyone else carrying skirt steak at a reasonable price? I mean, it is the cheapest cut anywhere in Latin America, and the grocery stores here that are willing to order it would like to charge for it like it is filet mignon. Thanks for your help.
AAAARGGGGHHHHHHH . . . ! I feel your pain, and at EBM the carne para fajita is indeed skirt. They offer it marinated or plain, and it rocks. Perfect for summertime grilling. Oddly, every other city I have ever shopped in (even Cleveland!) offers skirt at the neighborhood Super Save. But then again, even Kansas City has a Dean & Deluca, so the skirt steak war is actually the second most outrageous food shortcoming of the Twin Cities. I say we get everyone to ask for it at the local market (no one carries it regularly) and see what happens.
Another cut that should be available anywhere is triangle tip sirloin, which makes for great grilling as well.