Had a whirlwind 24+ hours in Minneapolis this weekend, seeing friends, family and running errands. Of course, me being me, I still found plenty of time to eat and drink in spectacular fashion.
yum!, , 4000 Minnetonka Blvd, St. Louis Park, MN, 952.922.4000
“Cupcakes and more” would be the lazy way to describe yum! kitchen and bakery. Doing so, however, would be a disservice to the “more” in that equation. The “more” on my recent visit included mini burgers, grilled cheese, and the delightful fries pictured above. The mini burgers were juicy despite their size and the red pepper aioli was a perfect complement. The grilled cheese was on challah was how it should be. Buttery bread melted with the gooeyness of muenster and cheddar. The star of this visit though was the fries. These, of the skin-on variety with sea salt and big chunks of black pepper, were so good they could have been my main course. The dipping sauces were alright but completely unnecessary. Of course you can’t go to yum! without getting something sweet so I picked up a moist vanilla cupcake with about a mile of frosting on top. Sure it was “boring” but it's gotta be the best cupcake in all the Twin Cities.
Kozy’s,3220 Galleria, Edina, MN, 952-224-5866
Located in a high end mall in Edina you sometimes forget that Kozy’s is run by the same folks that own NE Minneapolis staple Jax. Once you start eating though the comparisons come fast and furious. My group decided on Kozy’s based on some diet restrictions that thankfully allowed us all to eat as much beef as possible. The place was certainly quiet on a Saturday night but with their steakhouse prices that’s not a surprise. I was struck at some of the promotions they were running to drum up more business, like ‘kids eat for $1” or “$35 Lobster Sunday” and how I just don’t see them driving in more folks. In a neighborhood joint like Jax that could work, but Kozy’s feels like a sanitized steakhouse like Wildfire or Ruth Chris. The best thing they can do is to promote their connection to Jax and the Kozlak food empire (something their website does well). The food is a little overpriced but is excellent and certainly a fine representation of their family history. I started with the poblano pepper soup and while I was expecting more of a cream based soup the tomato broth with chunks of veggies had a fire I did not expect but was pleased to find. The garden salads my companions had were good but unspectacular. My wife’s regular cut of prime rib was at least 18oz so I’d be terrified to see what the king cut looks like. It was done perfectly and seasoned very well. The beef tournedos were another example of perfectly cooked beef as the two sauces (béarnaise and marsala) hit just the right notes. The crostini that were included were throw away additions as was the broiled parmesan tomato. The garlic mashed potatoes while heavy on a summer night we very well done. My smothered rib eye was served over a bed of hash browns that must have been cooked in at least a stick of butter. Please note, that’s not a complaint. The steak itself was again done perfectly and the char crust seasoning, sautéed mushrooms and onions only accentuated the meat’s flavor. I thought the wine list was nice and surprisingly well priced in comparison to the beef. It certainly appears Kozy’s, like our economy, could use a boost so if you’re in the mood for a little extravagance keep it in mind.
Moto-i, 2940 Lyndale Ave South, Minneapolis, MN, 612-821-NAMA
While I ate no food at Moto-i in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood, I must share with you the new love of my life…sake. Yes stuck in this busy block of Minneapolis restaurants and pubs is the only sake brew spot in the U.S. I originally found this hard to believe given the huge effect of Asian culture in major cities and I found it even harder to believe after tasting the sweet, sweet nectars of the gods. Yes Moto-i’s sake is the real deal and yes I want to take it behind the bleachers and get it pregnant. It’s that fucking good. I started out with a sampler of three of their in-house brews. The junmai nama nigori was cloudy in appearance and was slightly bolder then the junmai nama. Both were fine choices but the real star of my sampler was the junmai nama genshu that was brewed without any additional water added. This heavy on the alcohol brew still had a subtle sweetness and had a dryness that lingered pleasantly on my pallet. All three were served chilled which surprised me. My limited sake experience had only been with the warm table style sake which Moto-i also brews and the chilled sparkling variety of which I’ve recently become enamored with. Apparently they will soon start selling bottles of their sake and I’ve got to tell you I’ll never leave Minneapolis again without having one of them in my car.