Thursday, January 31, 2008

Origami, 30 North First Street, Minneapolis

Among some of the praised heaped upon Origami, which posts up in both downtown Minneapolis and Ridgedale Minnetonka, is Best Sushi four years in a row (2002-2006) from City Pages and a 9.3 rating from City Search 2006. A Best Sushi award from the critics of City Pages is no small feat in a metro area flooded with Japanese and Korean restaurants. Origami doesn’t try to pretend at Asian quaintness, it’s furnished with some ultra-modern purple panels inside at the bar. There are booths for five that would look more fitting in a sports bar, but the sushi is excellent, and it’s open for business lunch during the workweek.

Origami is known to be the place to go for a business lunch with a party of four or more. In fact, going out for a quiet date is not a good idea at Origami, as the house prefers large parties. 5-9 people are sat on a first come first served basis while parties of ten or more should call ahead. If you’re going for sushi, each piece is gorgeously prepared. There is tuna, lobster and salmon. But the squid and octopus somehow look just as appetizing. Sushi is not fast food, even as much as it’s become popular, and Origami doesn’t treat it that way.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Figlio Calhoun Square vs. Zarletti's Milwaukee

A few weeks ago my boss gave me free Timberwolves tickets for their game against the Utah Jazz at the Target Center. However, before we left for the game we decided to go out for some great Italian food in the Minneapolis St. Paul area. After the wait for Amore Victoria was too long, we drove up the road to Figlio’s in Calhoun Square, located in Uptown as well. The food was okay, not one of the better Italian meals that I have had, but you cannot beat Filigo’s drink specials. There are not many Minneapolis Happy Hours that can compete with Figlio’s $2 drinks (that includes wine!) and their $2 appetizers. Their Happy Hours vary, but they have specials every day.

Last week I ventured to Milwaukee and I ate at the best Italian restaurant I have ever been to. Zarletti’s is located in downtown Milwaukee on Mason Street, close to the Milwaukee Athletic Club. It has a nice atmosphere that emits a professional, but not too stuffy, surroundings. The restaurant itself is dimly lit and offers a great selection of fine Italian cuisine. I had an immaculate dish ‘ravioli al fungi’ which was an assortment of mushrooms in a light cream sauce with cheese filled ravioli. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! This restaurant did not feature drink specials or $2 appetizers, but Italian is kind of a ‘you get what you pay for’ cuisine. Zarletti’s cost a little more ($18-$30 a plate) than Figlio’s, but the quality and taste shows. If you are ever in Milwaukee, be sure to stop in!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

El Patio, St. Paul

El Patio Mexican Grill is conveniently located on St. Paul’s West Seventh Street, giving easy access to pre-Wild margaritas. The carnitas are what is to try here, but vegetarians also have options as there is a separate menu of meatless delights (the complimentary soup is not vegetarian so watch for that). The spot isn’t called El Patio for nothing, in the summer there is great space for outdoors dining although it’s tough to think about in the middle of January.

The margaritas are expensive but tasty. The better drink deal here is the 40 ounce draft beers for only six to seven bucks, and that includes Heineken! If you’re feeling Mexican on a Minnesota Wild game night, or any night, El Patio is a good space. If you don’t sit in the dining room, get up and try to check out the mural that is strewn across one of its walls at some point.