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i don't go to the far end of this issue like local boosters like dara grumdahl* but this constant harping on what twin cities fine dining was like >20 years ago is a good example of the kind of coastal dismissal people like her care too much about. 

 

 

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*see, for example, this piece in which she manages to turn grand cafe being named one of food & wine's restaurants of the year into

 

Top restaurant in the whole country.  What an honor, so richly deserved, we really couldn't be prouder. 

 

 

 

or the recent claim that the twin cities are apparently "one of the world's sustainable seafood leaders". 

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until 2016, grand cafe in s. minneapolis was a solid neighbourhood spot. i ate there one time with friends, liked my meal but mostly liked that the restaurant was not charging outrageous prices for fo

yes, but what is the relevance of those memories to a discussion of current twin cities fine dining?   also, where on the grand cafe website are you seeing a menu item called "hot sampler"? 

the vibe at grand cafe was very much not that. who knows, maybe it had something to do with the fact that 3 of the 4 in our party are not white, but i don't think so. there was a performative quality

i do hope you realize that the restaurants that still inform your sense of twin cities fine dining have their analogues in new york too. meanwhile, the menus of the places that have sprung up in the last decade or so are mostly indistinguishable from their new american peers in new york.

 

Coincidentally I was discussing this with some of my msp based partners (over dinner at Frenchette where they did not order the walleye). Their main complaint was that even though there are better places to eat, they are still all either special occasion restaurants where you're not expected to show up on a regular basis, or they're corporate / high volume and in both cases there is still no notion of people eating regularly at "fancy" places. This is all paraphrased from minnesotan. 

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right. at dinner at grand cafe we had a similar conversation about the the fact that there is a lot of money in the twin cities but with a few exceptions there is nothing very distinctive about the high-end restaurants. but i guess you could say the same about most high-end restaurants in most big cities. and it's true that there's little interesting by way of "middle class" dining, by which i mean places where you wouldn't be in danger of getting close to $100/head.

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Before Mongo files a lawsuit against me, can I just mildly point out that my recollections of old time St Paul were prompted by someone (who?) making a crack about tater tot hotdish casserole, followed by someone else mentioning pecan-crusted walleye, a St Paul Grill specialty -- neither having anything to do with Grand Cafe.

 

So leave me alone.

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I have no dog in this fight but from mongo’s pictures grand cafe doesn’t look formal or corporate. why couldn’t you be a regular there?

 

the menu and mongo’s report make it seem quite a lot better than the two new american bistros in my neighborhood, which appear to have a similar ambience and are at about the same price point. (stone park cafe & blue ribbon if you want to feel culturally superior mongo.)

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I have no dog in this fight but from mongo’s pictures grand cafe doesn’t look formal or corporate. why couldn’t you be a regular there?

 

the menu and mongo’s report make it seem quite a lot better than the two new american bistros in my neighborhood, which appear to have a similar ambience and are at about the same price point. (stone park cafe & blue ribbon if you want to feel culturally superior mongo.)

 

When a restaurant doesn't have the idea of people coming back, and when there isn't much of a celebrity / money class, it behaves differently. 

 

To paraphrase a statement made: "I could go there 100 times and spend almost as much as I spend when I'm in New York, and still nobody would even recognize me... here I went to [restaurant under our nyc office] three times and we're now best friends with the owner."

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well, all i can say to that is that at the one place we went to once every 4-6 weeks (piccolo, now lamentably closed), we began to be recognized as regulars and greeted/treated as such quite early on. we don't go anywhere else often enough to expect to be recognized but that's because we have a two-hour round-trip and restrict ourselves to 1-2 nice dinners out a month.

 

i'd be surprised though if regulars at places like hyacinth or tilia or 112 eatery are not recognized as such.

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I think that you can definitely become a regular some of the restaurants in the Twin Cities. Tilia and Hyacinth are both good examples. The restaurant at Alma (as opposed to the cafe) seems decent at knowing who their regulars are (but this is not neighborhood dining). Our third visit to Hyacinth got noticed and they brought over a sample of a wine that was new to their menu. Years ago I had a similar thing going at Lucia's.

 

I don't know what it is like in New York but if you want to be a regular you must focus on the bar. Too much turnover at both the host and server positions to ever make a mark. Maybe you can luck out if one of the owners is running the front of house.

 

But, honestly, I rarely have a conversation about this topic with folks who go to restaurants often enough. So perhaps too few here see the value in being a regular. Or maybe their Nordic coolness keeps them from chatting up the right people.

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