Monthly Archives: January 2016

Upton 43

We celebrated the end of a two week break from work over the holidays by trying a new restaurant, Upton 43.

The restaurant is in the Linden Hills neighborhood and has been highly anticipated as another restaurant by the folks behind Victory 44.  While they share the same minds behind the restaurants, I would say they took the opportunity to create something totally different from each other.  This is probably a great idea so as not to take away business from each other.  Victory 44 is a great place to stop for a beer and a burger.  Upton 43 is more fine dining with a glass of wine.  Upton 43 has its roots in Swedish cuisine, but with a French cooking flair.

We arrived and were quickly seated in a “floating” booth in the center of the restaurant.  This made it easy for the staff to refill our water glasses from either side.  The ambiance of the restaurant is a little stark and cold, but in a good way.  The light fixtures pinpoint LED lighting directly in the center of the tables.  Plenty of light to see the menu and what you are eating, but preserves the ambiance of the restaurant by creating a sense of darker space around you.  The overall color scheme was a grayish blue with wood tables and booths.

The restaurant was pretty quiet the evening we were there with just a few tables besides us.  This made for plenty of attention by the staff.

I had a good glass of red wine.  It paired nicely with the meal.  Unfortunately they don’t have their wine list on their website, so I can’t tell you what wine I had.

We each ordered a starter and an entree.  The hubby began with a starter of fried goat gouda balls on a bed of kale and lingonberry.  The cheese just melted in your mouth.  I went with the dried apple & acorn squash soup, onion, burnt cream, and linseed.  It was absolutely fabulous.  The bread basket was a nice addition to the starters.

For the main entree, I went with the Swedish meatballs, potato puree, and charred cucumber.  Great comfort food pick.  I’m not a pickle person, but the charred cucumber was essentially a sweet pickle that I really enjoyed.  Still don’t think I’ll be adding pickles to my sandwiches and meals in the future, but I’d eat the charred cucumber again in a heartbeat.  The hubby went with the warm grains, sunchoke, apple, truffle, and onion petal entree.  He enjoyed it, but I don’t think it was the best option on the menu.

We ended the dinner by splitting dessert.  The soder tea cremeaux, pear, burnt honey, and white chocolate was great.  Hard to describe it, but definitely worth getting it – below is a picture of the funky, but awesome dish!  Also note that all of the dishes were made specifically for Upton 43.

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All in all it was a good meal and good experience.  I think the type of restaurant it is seems a little odd for the location.  The location would be better served by a restaurant with a little lower price point and a few more options on the menu so as to attract repeat neighborhood visits.  It seems more like someplace that should be downtown Mpls or in the Uptown area.  However, I’m sure it will do fine where it is located.  Great restaurant for a special occasion, but probably not somewhere I’d go on a weekly basis.

The prices on the menu are a bit on the higher side, but this is a no tip restaurant.  They pay their staff higher wages so the tips are not necessary.  They build this into the cost of the dinner.  Keep that in mind when you see the prices.  Even with that said, we shared a dessert because we couldn’t comprehend each getting dessert and paying $14 a piece for them.

Definitely a place to check out if you are interested in trying a new restaurant and like the Scandinavian cooking scene that seems to be rather hot in Mpls at this time.

Happy Eating!

 

Brassiere Zentral Closing

Sad foodie news today.  After not quite 2 years, Brassiere Zentral is shutting its doors.  This was our favorite restaurant of 2014 and where we spent our NYE that year.  Unfortunately we never made it there in 2015, though we did visit the associated wine bar Foreign Legion.  So many restaurants in the cities to try that we sometimes miss going back to good ones like this.  We did make it to Zentral 4-5 times in 2014, but 0 in 2015.  Maybe if we would have gone once during the last year…

It’s open until January 16th for those in the cities that want to give it a try.  Thankfully Russell Klein’s other restaurant Meritage is still doing well in St. Paul.  We had dinner there with a good friend of mine in December before going to the Ordway.  Klein was in the restaurant that evening, perhaps that was a foreshadowing of the news that hit the papers today.

Do me a favor, get to Meritage for brunch, dinner, or a late night snack.  Foreign Legion is also remaining open and will accept Brassiere Zentral gift cards.  Let’s make sure Klein’s cooking still continues in the Twin Cities!

Happy Eating!

4 Bells

Hard to believe it’s been so long since I posted.  Maybe 2016 will be the year that I get back to it regularly!  Keep me honest folks!  Instead of trying to catch up on the new restaurants I’ve tried since my last post, I’ll start with the restaurant that was our 2015 restaurant of the year.  Those of you who know me, may know that we pick our favorite restaurant of they year and make that our New Year’s Eve plans.

In November, we went to 4 Bells with our good friend Heather and decided after that meal that this was the NYE choice.  It did not disappoint us on 12/31/15.

The restaurant itself is fun – wood, steel, and plenty of space that you never feel crowded.  There is space on the top-level that we’ve not been to, but I understand it has a slightly different menu offering and there is a 4 season patio type area.  The cooking has a southern theme to it, so you can find fried chicken if you so desire.  They also are known for their seafood.

We started off the evening by arriving early for a drink at the bar downstairs.  Given it was NYE, we went with a glass of Prosecco and toasted 2015 goodbye.  We didn’t have to wait long before we were escorted to our table for the evening.  We were seated in Ricardo’s area.  Side note:  I highly recommend if you go to 4 Bells (or Murray’s on the weekend), ask for Ricardo.  He is the best waiter in the cities in our opinion.  He takes his profession seriously and really makes the meal that much better!  We first became aware of Ricardo when he worked at the now defunct Pane Vino Dolce.  He then moved to Al Vento for a while.  We then lost track of him, but was so happy to see him at 4 Bells.

Ricardo came to the table and welcomed us back – stating it was good to see us and he remembered us, etc.  Even if this is part of his schtick, he makes it sincere!

We put in an order of the Boiled Peanut Hummus as a starter.  It was delivered with Aged Cheddar Crackers and Crisp Vegetables (carrots, celery, and radishes).  It was a great start to the meal, but the main entrees are so good that I don’t know if I’d get it again.

For our main entrees, the hubby went with the Grilled Pork Chop with Graham Grits and Huckleberry.  His take on the pork chop was “best in the cities.”  I went with the Seared Scallops with a Sweet Corn Cake (pancake), Bacon, Chicory, and Coffee-Maple Jus.  The scallops were fabulous!  The pancake was good, though I don’t know that it added a lot to the dish.  The corn mix was great.

As for drinks with dinner, Ricardo suggested a great red wine that would be fine with the scallops.  A California wine – Smith & Hook- Cabernet Sauvignon – very good!  The hubby stuck with water, but the previous visit we ordered a couple of their cocktails – Moscow Mule and the Gin Fizz.  They make a great cocktail if that is what you’re looking for.

We ordered a couple of sides to go with our entrees.  The Cauliflower Au Gratin – amazing!  Hard to go to a southern style restaurant without getting biscuits.  So glad we made the call.  The biscuits were served hot and with plenty of butter to slather on top.  The order came with 4 – 2 of which we brought home as leftovers.  (Now I see why we thought we didn’t need the hummus – we had a ton of food.)

We decided to skip dessert, but I’ve heard they have some “to die for” desserts.

This is a great restaurant and one that I would highly recommend. The location across from Loring Park in Minneapolis is fabulous and I think they will do well!  Such a great restaurant destination area now with Cafe Lurcat, The Third Bird and now 4 Bells.

2015 ended on an extremely high note!  2016 has started well, but that will be a post for another day.  For now…

Happy Eating!