Well, Valentine’s week proved to be a success on both ends. I took Al to a Wild game (live hockey is soooo exciting!) and in return he brought me to a Jin Xing performance at the Orpheum. And although the Wild lost and the dance perfomance did not move me to my feet, we still managed to thoroughly enjoy ourselves and found some great new restaurants along the way.
Restaurant Numero Uno: Babani’s Kurdish Restauant (St. Paul)
Starters: Nareen (bread) followed by Mahagic soup and Tabouli salad. Who doesn’t like feta baked in to a tasty bread with a side marinara with a kick? The soup was light and the herbs were nicely balanced. The salad was potent–I personally couldn’t eat more than a few bites.
Entrees: Kubey Sawar and Chicken Tawa. The chicken was served in a lemon-spice sauce that was tantalizing. The meat fell right of the bone and the accompaniment of potatoes, peppers, onions, and lime was harmonious. I didn’t care for Al’s beef dish, but his exact words were, “It was frickin delicious.”
Drinks: BYOB! Pretty sweet, if you ask me. The money we saved by bringing our own booze was then spent on $8 drinks at the Xcel Center 😦
Restaurant #2: Toast Wine Bar and Cafe (Minneapolis)
Eats: A tapas-style menu with individual small plates to share. A few of the highlights were the burrata (an Italian cheese composed of a mozarella shell filled with cream) with arugula, serrano and balsamic and the baked polenta (esentially a cornbread) with spinach, mushrooms, and pecorino cheese. We also tried many of the Crostinis, which were good, but nothing to write home about.
Drink: A bottle of McManis Family Vineyards Petite Sirah (California, 2009) that had a great color, with just the right amount of intensity followed by a smooth finish. I would buy it again.
Restaurant Three: Washington Square (White Bear Lake)
Our most frequented restaurant (bi/weekly) never ceases to amaze me. Our most recent discovery of must-haves is their cilantro vinaigrette–I would order a house salad just to have it! The bartender now greets us with a sample of beer he thinks we’ll enjoy. Their ever-changing beer selection, fail-safe menu, and awesome staff is what keeps us coming back.
All three of these restaurants fulfill our want list of organic, local, and [somewhat] ethnic. We will be returning to the Orpheum for The Beatles’ tribute, Rain, in March and plan on dining at Masa.