(Shown above: Cafe Maude at Loring Park.)
Okay, I didn’t take any photos when we went to Vincent A Restaurant on the Nicollet Mall last Saturday to celebrate Carol’s birthday, but the pan-seared scallops with fingerling potatoes and orange butter sauce ($19/$27) are an old favorite, and on this visit, they were as good as ever, the succulent sweetness of the lightly seared scallops perfectly complemented by the citrus notes of the butter sauce.
I tried to talk Carol out of ordering the calamari at the new Café Maude in Loring Park, because these days, every menu I see offers fried squid, and the preparation is almost always the same – breaded fried rings with some kind of aioli. But Carol’s persistence was well-rewarded: Café Maude’s rendition ($10.50) was different and delicious, combining morsels of squid prepared two ways – sautéed and deep-fried, and tossed with fresh greens and a spicy chimichurri. The new Cafe Maude, by the way, has a lot of the same warmth and charm as the original (5411 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis), and one big plus for uptown residents like myself – it’s a lot closer to home. Music starts this weekend.
The other highlight of our visit to Café Maude was the Wild Acres duck banh mi salad ($12.50). Lots of places are serving up fusion renditions of the classic Vietnamese sandwich, but Café Maude takes it to the next level, by deconstructing the dish and reinterpreting it as a salad, built around duck confit, house-cured duck pastrami and a rich duck pate, slathered on a crisp crostini.
I also didn’t bother to take photos Monday night, when we went to the Dakota to hear Davina and the Vagabonds, (who were, as usual, amazing) but at least one dish from that night belongs on the weekly highlights list: the seafood tagliatelle with mussels, shrimp and halibut in a light roux ($18) – small and light and intensely flavorful.
I had a quick solo lunch last week at Somos Peru, the new Peruvian restaurant at 60th and Nicollet, so I only tried one dish, the aji de gallina, shredded chicken in a rich but delicate creamy, nutty yellow pepper . There is a lot more on the menu I would like to try, ranging from the chupe de camarones, a creamy Peruvian shrimp chowder, to the chaufa Somos Peru, a Chinese-influenced fried rice dish made with chicken, beef, shrimp, fish, mussels, calamari, eggs and green onions ($20).
Another country heard from: Mexican restaurants are abundant in the Twin Cities, but to the best of my knowledge, Catalina’s Restaurant , 2301 37th Ave, N.E. Columbia Heights is the first in the Twin Cities to serve Honduran dishes, like this sopa de caracol ($11.95), which the menu translates as scallop soup, but is more likely made from conch. There wasn’t a lot of conch or scallop in this soup, but it was quite delicious, a hearty but still delicately flavored stew with potatoes, yucca, plantain and carrots in a rich coconut milk base. Lots of Mexican dishes on the menu as well.
I try to eat healthy, and my usual breakfast these days is granola with yogurt and fresh fruit. But every once in a while I get an irresistible urge for that old favorite, two eggs over easy with hash browns and toast. And nobody does that better than Our Kitchen, 813 W. 36th St., Minneapolis. The hash browns are perfectly browned and crisp, amazingly ungreasy and served in massive proportions.