Finding great food at great prices is a bit like the parlor trick of putting a five in one pocket that, after a mysterious invocation, becomes a ten in the other. For years, the charming Modern Cafe has churned out pot roast and other Sunday supper–worthy comfort foods. More recently, there have been rumblings of improved quality and even expansion, but the best-kept secret is most likely its chef, Phillip Becht, and he likes it that way. This self-effacing quality may give an inkling as to why Becht, with his “head down and march, soldier” attitude, turns out the best food—in a kitchen the size of a postage stamp—in Northeast and, dollar for dollar, perhaps the whole city. A rack of lamb with mango gelée, coconut couscous, mint, and pistachios is wonderful. But the price is amazing: $17—half the cost of his competition’s. Asked his philosophy, Becht gazes at his shoes and extols the virtues of the owner, his co-workers, and the room. As for the whereabouts of the wand, he only grins.
337 13th Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-378-9882