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Peoples Organic Café

6 Apr

Peoples Organic Café
Visited Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

peoples exterior

Ryan
Minneapolis has to have the highest number of organic brunch joints per capita in the nation by a wide margin. Every few weeks Lauren has found a new organic/natural place to try. These places continually annoy me because of their poor price-to-portion ratio. But as long as Lauren was paying, I was along for the giving it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised first of all to find out that we wouldn’t be waiting in a line of any sort, and that there was plenty of open seating. I had in my head visions of Good Earth, where we wandered around the Galleria for 35 minutes with a buzzer in hand. This place was quiet with no wait time at all.

peoples mocha

I found an item on the menu, the Peoples Organic Breakfast, that looked like it would be filling and cost-effective. For just $7.95, I received scrambled eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, and ciabatta toast. It came out in fast fashion, everything tasted good and fresh, and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t full at the end of my meal!

classic breakfast

Not much else to say about Peoples Organic Cafe, other than it was good and I’d do it again.

ryan at peoples

Lauren
This past Sunday, on the heels of a marathon 8 straight days of working for my beloved, I suggested a trip to the suburbs for some brunch. I had to pull a few teeth, though, because Ryan senses danger whenever I suggest going to a restaurant that has even a slight natural/locavore bend to it.

Surprisingly, for around 10am on a Sunday, Peoples was empty save for about a half-dozen occupied tables. This was a very refreshing change from any other time we have tried to go to brunch at that time, ever. I wonder if they were expecting a larger crowd at some point because they seemed almost over-staffed for the number of patrons.

peoples inside

We entered from the parking lot side, which made ordering kind of confusing; had we entered from the Galleria we would have walked past the build-your-own yogurt and oatmeal stations and the deli case of sandwiches (which aren’t listed on the menu chalkboards). I found this confusing, but I located them eventually and ended up ordering the egg/bacon/swiss croissant, which came with a side of potatoes, and a coffee.

peoples coffee

I love the mug that my coffee came in something ridiculous. For starters, it’s a decent size, not so small that it’s two sips and done, but not so big that the coffee gets cold before you can finish. But I really love the handle! See how nice and substantial it is? It really felt secure as I carried it from the ordering station to the table. Note to self: Find mugs with thick, sturdy handles, and don’t bring them out when company comes over.

After only a few minutes of sitting and admiring the decor – I really liked it, kind of a pleasant cross between a Starbucks and French Meadow. I love the chartreuse green – our food arrived.

people breakfast croissant

My breakfast sandwich was pretty good. It was very rich; I think the croissant is overkill. For one thing, when a buttery pastry is topped with egg, rich cheese and bacon it naturally all sort of coalesces into one big pile of richness. I think something a little bit sturdier (and, therefore, easier to pick up) would be advised. The potatoes were a real disappointment. They were just, blah. A throwaway side dish.

For what it’s worth, I think Peoples should take note from its big sister French Meadow, and serve a side of lightly dressed greens with their rich eggy breakfast dishes. People in Minneapolis go bonkers for French Meadow’s quiche with spring greens and toast, would people in Edina react negatively to salad for breakfast?

We had a Groupon ***, so Peoples was worth a shot. I don’t see myself returning any time soon — there are too many better options.

Ambiance – Very cute, light and bright with lots of green + brown to reinforce the “natural” feeling. It was very quiet when we were there but I think it would be uncomfortably loud had it been busy; they have a ton of tables jammed into a pretty small space. If I was in the area and had time to kill I think it would be a nice place to sit with a cup of coffee (or a Surly, hello) and use the wifi.
Service – Not really much to speak of; like French Meadow, you order at the counter and your food is brought out to you. The guy who took our order was exceptionally cheerful and eager to help.
Food – So-so. My breakfast sandwich did have the hidden surprise of roasted tomatoes, which provided a nice punch between the rich cheese, bacon and pastry. More would have been better. I think with some small adjustments, it could be much better.
Overall experience – It was fine. I liked that it wasn’t super busy and that we didn’t have to wait to be seated, which is a small miracle on a Sunday. But perhaps everyone else already knew what we didn’t – that Peoples doesn’t quite stack up. It’s better than average, but when you’re asking the customer to pay the “organic” price tag, you have to really deliver on the food.

The Necessities
Peoples Organic Café
3545 Galleria, Edina, MN 55435
952.426.1856

Have you eaten at Peoples Organic Café? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below!

Fogo de Chão

16 Mar

Fogo de Chão
Visited Friday, March 4th, 2011

fogo de chao exterior

Ryan
I had never eaten at Fogo de Chao, but in the days leading up to the big night, many friends and co-workers told me about their experiences and really hyped this up as being more of an event than just another dinner at a restaurant. Like the Mongolian BBQ places and their bowl-stacking techniques, people have developed methods at Fogo to ensure maximum meaty intake. Some of the advice given to me included “avoid the temptations of the salad bar” and “there’s only one side to the card, and that’s green.”

ryan salad bar

I am a big carnivore; meat of all kinds is welcome inside my belly. At Fogo, I was like a kid in a candy store—succulent beef, chicken, pork, and even lamb at every turn! First, however, I ordered the house cocktail which was sort of a boozy Brazilian mojito with an entire lime sliced up. So good, I ordered two (and was only charged for one!) Some people have told me the salad bar is the highlight of Fogo; true, it was loaded with some great breads, vegetables, and even some other cuts of meat, but I knew I was only in this for the meat. I took a big piece of asparagus, a slice of bread, and smoked salmon and then waited for the servers to arrive with the meats.

drink

I don’t even know where to begin. I could sit here for 17 paragraphs telling you about each meat, but for the sake of you actually reading this whole post, I’ll just tell you my favorites. #1 was definitely the filet mignon. I could go to a different restaurant and order a filet only twice the size of the slice I was served at Fogo and be charged $30 for my meal. Here, that portion of filet ended up being about $1.50 when you average it all out, and it was the best I’ve ever had. My mouth has begun to salivate thinking about eating another piece of that!

#2 was the house specialty, the picanha, a cut of top sirloin. Shaped like a C on the poker, it was equally as tender and flavorful as the filet mignon. Other top cuts were the Linguica pork sausages and the bacon-wrapped chicken. If I were to go again, I’d focus on those four first and foremost. But that’s not to say that the others were less satisfactory, because they all were good. Seriously, all 17 were excellent cuts of meat. However, the rack of lamb was probably my least favorite. The leg of lamb was much tastier. Even the pork tenderloin, seasoned in my typically despised Parmesan, was outstanding.

picanha

Remember the Scrubs where Turk eats ten steaks at dinner and goes to the hospital in agony? I was warned about the “meat coma” by several friends and co-workers. And while I didn’t need my stomach pumped like Turk, I hit the uncomfortable stage. My heart rate sped up and I began seeing things—I thought a banana was a sausage and later I thought a piece of lamb was a chocolate-covered strawberry. Ten minutes later I was polishing off Lauren’s cheesecake for dessert, so I guess it was short-lived.

cheesecake

What else can be said? I have not had such a fun restaurant experience before. It was truly an event to anticipate, not just dinner at another restaurant. That said, it must never become a regular thing. I hope that we can visit once per year in the future for special occasions, or during the special restaurant weeks in Minneapolis with the discounted rates.

orchid

Lauren

I had been waiting and waiting for the next Restaurant Week with one goal in mind: Fogo! So when the dates were announced, Ryan hopped on OpenTable and booked us a four-top for the Friday night, and we talked the Rosoks into joining us for dinner. When we arrived it was absolutely slammed! I guess the word about the good deal to be had was out. It didn’t matter though, because the restaurant is so huge that we were seated in no time. After a quick explanation from our waiter about the “card” system and a round of drinks ordered, we were off to the salad bar!

Unlike my dear husband, I could definitely see myself going to town on the salad bar. I like meat but I’m more of a veggie eater than he is! So I found it tough to not fill upon the tasty things lining the salad bar; I limited it to some bread with balsamic vinegar, red peppers, lettuce and endive, mozzarella, broccoli and artichoke bottoms. Oh, and some smoked salmon! All of it was so delicious, the smoked salmon especially was amazing. It was definitely difficult for me to set the salad aside and ready myself for the onslaught of meat.

salad bar 1

So, unlike Ryan I did not try all of the meats. I first tried the garlic beef, which was not a favorite of the rest of the group. I liked it because it had some delicious charred bits and great garlic flavor. Next up were two bacon wrapped items, chicken tenders and filet. The chicken was amazing, but the bacon-wrapped filet was not as good. I think it’s the difference in the two meats – you definitely want to cook bacon fully, but cooking filet to well-done ruins it! Another surprise favorite was the linguica sausage, which was very spicy. With all of the prime beef cuts, I didn’t expect to love the sausage but it was delicious. And of course, I really liked both the ‘house specialty’ picanha top sirloin but the regular, non-bacon wrapped filet mignon was definitely the best – the favorite of the whole group.

meat

I really do think I could be satisfied with a meal at Fogo without the meat, and that is helped by the never-ending sides. The polenta was amazing. Frankly I didn’t think the potatoes were worth eating and the plaintains (which I normally love) were just so-so.

side dishes big announcement

Ambiance – It’s a little hard to get accustomed to the non-stop servers offering you meat, but we did okay after getting over the initial shock. It was very busy during Restaurant Week, of course, filled with happy diners chowing down on what had to be at least 30 whole cows.
Service – Very enthusiastic and prompt…except when it was time for the bill. We sat for quite a long time waiting for our server to bring us back our credit cards.
Food – Deeeelicious! Ryan may have stuffed himself full but I kept my meat intake under control, which was difficult at times. I even managed to order and eat a little bit of dessert!
Overall experience – A very fun night! It was definitely a great bargain during Restaurant Week. If not for the special deal, I wouldn’t have felt like I could have justified the cost but this was an awesome treat. Ryan is already looking forward to the next restaurant week…

The Necessities
Fogo de Chão
645 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN
612.338.1344

Have you eaten at Fogo de Chão? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below!

Great Mandarin

12 Mar

Elsewhere on the web: As part of our partnership with FNS Delivers, Ryan & Lauren review Great Mandarin in Eden Prairie.

Ryan’s reviewLauren’s review

Note: Outside of the cost of food, we are not being compensated for our writing at this time. We have no financial interest or stake in FNS Delivers. FNS Delivers is a wholly owned subsidiary of BLACKSUN PRODUCTIONS.

Joe’s Garage

5 Mar

Joe’s Garage
Visited Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

exterior

Ryan
First, I must say this was our most controversial restaurant visit. Controversial in that we received extremely poor service, left a tiny tip, and later complained to management. However, management’s quick and satisfactory response erased my feelings of hostility. Now to relive the story of our visit to Joe’s Garage on Wednesday night.

This week is Restaurant Week in Minneapolis, where a lot of places give customers the opportunity to eat lunch or dinner from a special menu for flat rates of $15 or $30. Lauren suggested Wednesday night that we take in one of the $15 dinner restaurants, and gave me the list of her five finalists. From that, I selected Joe’s Garage due to its largely American menu, just what I was in the mood for.

We arrived and were seated at 6:55 near the kitchen. Lauren wasn’t thrilled with where we were seated, so I asked the waitress if we could move to a booth. The waitress said that shouldn’t be a problem, at which point Lauren changed her mind and insisted she was fine with where we were. I don’t know if this little exchange somehow rubbed the waitress the wrong way or not, but it’s the only possible reason I can come up with for the events that soon unfolded.

The waitress returned at 7:05 and we placed our drink and dinner orders. There were five selections from each of the three courses: appetizers, main courses, and desserts. At this point, a pair of ladies were seated near us in a booth, and another couple was seated beside us. Lauren and I were chatting and enjoying each others’ company when I noticed the ladies in the corner were receiving their drinks and appetizers. “Ours must be coming soon!” I thought, finding it odd that people who sat down well after us were getting their food and drinks before us.

bread

Time continued to tick off the clock, and we were getting confused and impatient. Now the ladies in the corner were being served their main courses, and the table to our side was getting their appetizers. A third table behind us was seated during this time, and I thought “if these people who sat down at least twenty minutes after us get served first, I definitely have to say something.” A few more minutes went by, and they were served before us.

It was now 7:35. I was getting downright angry. We tried to get the waitress’s attention, but she avoided us and wouldn’t even make eye contact. Now we suspected that the wait was not an oversight, but intentional. But why would she do that? Because of Lauren’s tiny little two-second scene about seating? I told Lauren that if we weren’t given some sort of attention by 7:40, we were walking out. Lo and behold, at 7:37, our wine arrived and the waitress informed us the apps were on the way.

bulgogi tacos

Apps were out soon after, and they were good. We split orders of Korean tacos and wontons. The ladies in the corner were now waiting for their check, and the table to our side was on to dessert. The table behind us was finishing off their main course. We had now been at Joe’s Garage for over an hour and were still waiting on our main courses. Clearly it wasn’t backed up because others were being served in a timely manner, just not us. We couldn’t figure it out! It was 8:15 when our main courses arrived, and the tables near us had all paid and left. I had the jerk chicken and it was decent, had a little kick to it. The fries were not very warm anymore, but Lauren was kind to share her hot fries with me.

jerk chicken

The rest of the night, the service was good. Our dishes were cleared, our water glasses stayed filled, and dessert and the tab were out quickly. Dessert was the highlight of the meal for me. The warm chocolate tart and ice cream was excellent.

chocolate tart

I had such high hopes for Joe’s Garage. The food was fine but it was such an afterthought to me after the worst service we’ve received since last summer’s Moto-i debacle. Clearly the poor service had me forgetting about the rest of the night. The food was decent, prices were great, portions were reasonable. Ambiance wasn’t great in the kitchen area, but not awful.

So anyway, for the first time since a similar experience at a local D’Amico & Sons restaurant a couple years back, I wrote a letter to management and let them know we did not enjoy our experience. Within only hours I had heard back from the owner, who apologized and offered a gift card to make up for the poor service. That made me feel a lot better that management is working hard to ensure customer satisfaction. No ill will towards Joe’s Garage; we’ll try it again with our gift card this spring and hope for a much more pleasant experience!

Lauren
Gah. Well, Ryan has already said plenty about the service we received at Joe’s Garage, so I’ll just add this: We would have left much happier about the whole experience if our waitress would have acknowledged some kind of mistake or made some sort of apology. Any indication that she realized that she had messed up would have gone a long way with us.

When we got to Joe’s we were led to an area that I am a little shocked that they seat people in – was this to accommodate extra MSP Restaurant Week traffic? I don’t know, but I did not much care for being shoved into what seemed like a service area. To my point, this was the scene to my right:

ugly ugly ugly

And that’s why Ryan wanted to ask to move tables, but what I would have really preferred was to move sections and I don’t know how I would ask a server to put me in someone else’s section without coming off like a jerk. Having said all that it was kind of fun to watch the cooks do their thing, since I was directly facing the window where the servers picked up orders. Open kitchens are cool and I was liking watching them but you would think that Joe’s Garage could do something to make this space a little less horrid. I would think that for a relatively small investment they could make this into a much nicer space so that people stuck back there didn’t feel like they were secondary citizens, smashed between a service area and storage.

waited 30 mins for wine

Now that I’m being honest, after waiting 30-plus minutes for house wine I was in such a mood that I really wasn’t going to have anything positive to say about the experience, and the wine backed that plan up. I know house wine is by definition not the best stuff, but this tasted halfway to vinegar.

shrimp wontons

The shrimp wonton appetizer I had was good. Chopped up shrimp that was seasoned with curry and a coleslaw that was dominated by toasted sesame oil flavor. Dipping sauce is what you’d expect, some kind of Ponzu sauce.

lamb sliders

The lamb sliders were surprisingly meaty, although they were done more pink than I would have liked, as I have a natural aversion to underdone ground meats. They had a generous slathering of chevre and roasted red peppers which were both slightly warm, but also ice-cold strips of portobella mushroom which were unpleasant against the warm burgers. My fries, in contrast to Ryan’s, were still hot and I was happy to share them with him — I didn’t want to fill up on them when I had a dessert coming anyway. Priorities, people!

coconut creme caramel

For my dessert selection I went with the coconut crème caramel. I had checked out the menu online for Restaurant Week, which turned out to be abbreviated as online it was Banana Cream Pie, and when we actually got to the restaurant it was listed at Chocolate Banana Cream Pie. Bah!

During our extended wait that evening I saw many of the crème caramel being brought out with lots of lovely blackberries and raspberries, so I was disappointed when mine had mostly sad-looking blueberries. Outside of that, the custard itself was very good and was also the highlight of my meal, but that’s not surprising given my love for pretty much all custard desserts.

Ambiance – Bad. Ryan didn’t hate it but I have never been seated in such a terrible area of a restaurant. I don’t understand how they can justify seating people next to an overflowing storage area.
Service – Well, it was just plain terrible. We were ignored, our order was obviously forgotten but there was no attempt to address the situation or even recognize that the server screwed up. It doesn’t even take 40 seconds to pour a glass of wine, much less 40 minutes. However, Ryan and I both appreciated the response of the manager to our email complaint. He knew where we sat and who our server was and said that he was going to address the situation with her.
Food – It was fine. Considering the three courses were a total of $15 the value was there, but when you’re waiting over an hour for a chicken breast, mini burgers and fries it’s impossible to muster anything but the very faintest of praise.
Overall experience – Very bad. If we had not been offered a gift card by the manager I would not plan on going back, ever. We will give it another shot, perhaps in the summer on their rooftop patio overlooking Loring Park.

The Necessities
Joe’s Garage
1610 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, MN
612.904.1163

Have you eaten at Joe’s Garage? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below!

Greek Grill & Fry Co.

19 Feb

Elsewhere on the web: As part of our partnership with FNS Delivers, Ryan & Lauren review Greek Grill & Fry Co in Eden Prairie.

Ryan’s reviewLauren’s review

Note: Outside of the cost of food, we are not being compensated for our writing at this time. We have no financial interest or stake in FNS Delivers. FNS Delivers is a wholly owned subsidiary of BLACKSUN PRODUCTIONS.

Hot Plate Diner

16 Feb

Hot Plate Diner
Visited Saturday, February 12th, 2011

hot plate exterior

Ryan
Saturday morning, I was given three choices by Lauren for places to have brunch before a fun-filled day of wine-tasting and celebrating Chinese New Year. I selected Hot Plate Diner by default after eliminating the other two choices for various reasons. After picking up our trusty friends Walsh and Sarah, we arrived at the inconspicuous location on Bloomington and 52nd in south Minneapolis. When I walked inside, I about crapped myself. The inside of this place was crazy! I’ve seen many restaurants that litter the walls with random memorabilia and signs and stuff, but Hot Plate Diner was jam-packed wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with everything from paintings of cats to hanging art to 70s handheld video games. It was quite the interesting place to look at.

the dude

We arrived around 10:30 on a Saturday; a wait was inevitable. We were directed to the coffee cups and took our seats in the waiting area, and after fifteen minutes were seated at a booth in the corner. The waitress greeted us and asked if there was anything we wanted to get started. My first instinct was “no,” but then she announced “Maybe a caramel roll? They’re hot out of the oven!” It took all of about 0.5 seconds for both me and Sarah to say “okay!” The caramel rolls were out quickly and we dug in. They were big and gooey and fresh out of the oven, and featured an excess of caramel on the plate for dipping. I felt this was an excellent start to the meal.

now that is a caramel roll
caramel roll clean plate club

When it was time to place our orders, I scanned the very brief menu and chose the Eggs Benedict, mostly because it was one of the few cheese-less items and I wasn’t feeling up to making special requests. It wasn’t a long wait before our food arrived, and my heart sank just a little when I saw that the serving portion of my meal was only about 1/2 that of Lauren’s scramble. Granted, I had just had a gigantic calorie-riddled caramel roll, but I was hoping for an equally ginormous portion of Benedict and potatoes. Nevertheless, I was satisfied with my breakfast. The American fries were cooked just right and really came to life with some hot sauce. The Eggs Benedict, although good, was nothing at all out of the ordinary compared to other Eggs Benedict meals that I’ve ordered in the past. When it comes to the Benedict meals, all else is judged against Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis, the best I’ve had, and Hot Plate’s version fell short. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did.

eggs benny

Overall, my experience was positive at Hot Plate Diner. I thoroughly enjoyed the kitschy decor, the short wait time, and the caramel roll. Prices were pretty standard, maybe just a tiny hair on the spendy side. If I were to go back, which I could certainly see ourselves doing, I would get one of those scrambles that looked like a lot more food for one’s money.

snowflakes

Lauren

There was a funny moment as we were pulling up to Hot Plate where Sarah, sitting in the backseat, told Chris, “This looks like your kind of place…” Meaning, a greasy spoon, small-town diner. We were all surprised when we walked in and saw a cute, down-to-earth little restaurant jam-packed with young families and twenty-somethings.

lamp

There was a little bit of a wait for a table (see: aforementioned twenty-somethings and young families. Damn our demographical love of brunch!) but I loved that they had a couple of airpots of coffee to make the wait a little bit sweeter and more caffeinated. I only had a bit of trouble balancing my cup of coffee on the arm of a chair at the same time as I was trying to take photos with my beautiful new Canon T1i! So if you’ve noticed a big step up in the photo qualities on the blog, you’re right!

beagles paint by numbers

Hot Plate’s menu is short and sweet, with the wildest item on their menu probably the “Grand Marais Scramble” with cream cheese, smoked trout and asparagus on home fries with toast, and that is exactly what I got. It was a very nice and unusual twist on a traditional scramble. The home fries were delicious and perfect – not greasy, not mushy, just perfect little pillows of potato. My only complaint would be that I would have liked it better if there had been more asparagus, and if it had been chopped up and mixed in the scramble as opposed to just sitting on top. This girl likes her veggies mixed in with her eggs!

big marsh scramble

I definitely disagree with Ryan’s assessment of the portions, as I could only finish about half of my scramble (I did have a bite or two of his caramel roll, though). My leftovers made a delicious breakfast the next day. Surprisingly, when Ryan finished his meal he did not attack what I had yet to eat! This was only the third time in our relationship that I was able to bring leftovers home from a cheese or olive-free dish.

sunshine

Ambiance – Busy, but we were there on a Saturday morning. The decor is cute and very fun, and not annoyingly busy in an Applebees kind of way.
Service – Our waitress was great. I actually didn’t drink very much water so I can’t comment on her water refilling chops. She definitely hit the nail on the head when she dropped that line about caramel rolls straight from the oven!
Food – Really good, I loved my Grand Marais scramble. It was just a little different, enough to pique my interest. I would love to go back and try their buckwheat pumpkin waffles, which I hear are in the running for best pumpkin waffle in the city!
Overall experience – Mmm, very good! Great breakfast spot. With all of the awesome spots for brunch in the cities I don’t know when we’ll get back there, but it has my vote for a repeat.

The Necessities
Hot Plate Diner
5204 Bloomington Ave S, Minneapolis MN
612.824.4794

Riverview Wine Bar

12 Feb

Riverview Wine Bar
Visited Friday, February 4th, 2011

Ryan
Lauren and I ended up at Riverview Wine Bar with friends Walsh and Sarah Friday night because I maaaaay have dropped the ball on my beautiful lovely wife’s birthday dinner. I had agreed to take Lauren anywhere she wanted for her birthday dinner, and she chose a small popular local restaurant called Alma for Friday night after work. Thursday night, I attempted to make a reservation and was dismayed to see they were totally booked. All of Lauren’s other choices also were all booked—I couldn’t believe my eyes! Needless to say, Lauren was very disappointed that I hadn’t acted sooner. After a few hours of contemplation, she announced to me that “I’ll allow you to take me to Riverview Wine Bar instead.” I knew it wasn’t quite what she had in mind, but I was quick to agree and out we headed to pick up friends Walsh and Sarah for a night at a cozy venue in south Minneapolis.

We were seated at the lone remaining table, situated right in front of the drafty entry way. This was unfortunate but couldn’t be avoided; the place is quite small to begin with and I imagine all tables felt a little rush of cold when the door opened on this frosty winter’s night. I’m warm-bodied; I got over it. The waitress took our drink orders, and all four of us tried different flights. I opted for the Espana flight, featuring four 2 oz. glasses of premium wines from the Spain region. I had one white called Las Brisas (my favorite) and three reds–Massroig, Conde Valdemur, and Mas Donis. I nursed these glasses for over an hour, attempting to get the most for my $12. I enjoyed their wine flight options… a tad spendy, but a fun treat!

The dinner menu was totally what I expected–mostly things like cheese plates and salads. But they also featured a short list of original pizzas. I scoped out the menu and deducted that the Corleone was the one for me, featuring locally produced spicy sausage, mushrooms, and olives. I hate all olives, so I picked those off and handed them to Lauren, a lover of olives. And likewise, I enjoy mushrooms, while Lauren is still a little cool on them. What a team we make! The pizza was just enough for one person, even me! It tasted good to me, but I’m not a pizza critic and won’t even begin to explain flavors to you. It was just good. Eventually the bread we ordered showed up and I gobbled about half the loaf down using their great seasoned butter. Later I had a pint of Old Speckled Hen, a delicious European beer.

I liked the ambiance of this place a lot. It was cozy, dark, and featured some vibrant yet bold colors and tasteful lighting. I commented to Lauren that I envisioned a room in our future house looking like this. The restaurant is attached to a coffee bar, which on this night featured a small jazz ensemble that we could hear through the glass doors. It had seating for maybe 30 people, tops. Our final bill was about $65, a bit spendy for a meal but considering the wine was a big part of it, I was hardly surprised.

Riverview is a place I would return to on a balmy summer night for a glass of wine, but is probably not the kind of place I would make a point to eat a full meal in the near future even though I was perfectly satisfied by the experience as a whole. I think it’s more of a girls’ place to go.

And oh, how did I possibly forget the service. If ever a centimeter of water was missing from my glass, a waitress was over immediately to fill it up. They don’t mess around with their water service there!

Lauren

Yup, my dear old husband sure dropped the stinkin’ ball on my birthday. He somehow didn’t think that any of the six, six! popular, special occasion restaurants on my birthday list would require more than 24 hours notice for a reservation.

Ahem.

I decided that he could take a step towards making it up to me by taking me out to a girly wine bar with cheese plates and appetizers that I would love but he would surely hate.

Ryan has already described our table, which was freezing cold whenever anyone walked in. Unfortunately nothing could be done about that and I’m sure that most of the cafe got some of the draft.

Riverview has a cute, almost kitschy list of wine flights like “Sauerkraut” (German wines) and “No Trees Killed” (Un-Oaked Whites). I went for the cheesy “K-Syrah, Syrah” which was four of my favorite (for now) varietal of wine. I don’t remember much of the wine, other than I liked them all… 🙂

I also ordered a pizza, which I didn’t know the name of at the time and I don’t know now. I ordered by telling the waitress “the last pizza on the list, please”. Scarpino maybe? It had bacon, prosciutto, blue cheese and three other kinds of cheeses. It was sooo salty and delicious and totally hit the spot.

The pizzas at Riverview are small and cracker-crusty, which is my favorite, but I don’t think that the crusts are house-made. For some reason I looked on the bottom of one of my slices and it had these little dimples which reminded me of commercial pizza crusts. Oh well.

After my Syrah wine flight I ordered a class of “Acrobat” Pinot Noir from Oregon which I found very nice, a little bit of spice and lots of flavors. It’s a wine I’m going to be on the lookout for in the future!

One thing that I did think was ridiculous – we ordered a side of baguette, which was $6 for ten or so slices of bread with herbed butter. Both things were very good but it seemed incredibly expensive for something that is usually free at restaurants. I don’t mind paying for bread but $6 seems pretty stiff, all things considered.

Riverview is a place I would like to return to for a glass of wine and a dessert or a bowl of olives, but I doubt it will be somewhere we go to for dinner again.

Ambiance – Very cute. They have done an outstanding job with the decor, it is very cozy. There are a couple couches around a fireplace that look like a really nice place to lounge and have a glass of wine…too bad though, that we were by the door where it was very cold.
Service – They were OUTSTANDING with the water! I loved it! I was in heaven!
Food – My pizza was delicious, very salty and savory. The bread was good but overpriced.
Overall experience – Very nice. I would return. I would like to go back in the summer to sit out on the patio.

The Necessities
Riverview Wine Bar
3745 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN
612.729.4200