It’s Wednesday evening at 8 pm. This fairly new cafe at 22nd and Hennepin was overflowing to the gills. Even the bar was packed and the only setback of the evening was that the Twins were on the bar TV, grudgingly plowing to the end of a grim season.
When the server brought the wine/beer menu, my first response was “Wowser Dowser.” While the phrase may have not had a lotta relevant meaning, she nodded knowingly: “I know.” There was a terrific list of about 30 tap beers (from everywhere. She was eager to have me try a couple ’til I settled on a darker ale which was perfect for a cool autumn evening. My dining partner ordered the Zinfandel and she too found the wine list intriguing and lengthy. The cafe has 10 wines from the barrel, but they’re a bit higher priced, and we were on a budget.
The menu is fun to peruse and we elected to start off with the featured soup of the day, French onion (not typically a soup that I’d order). We were pleasantly surprised to find the cup hearty, rich, flavorful, cheesy, chewy and quite scrumptious. The deviled egg that comes in two halves was an excellent surprise appetizer. It comes on a small, narrow plate, lined with hummus and the eggs were deviled with bacon bits and small pieces of arugula. We split an order of the perfectly cooked mussels which were smothered in a delectable tomato puree and pungent sausage sauce, nicely seasoned with garlic, onions and oregano. These three items were certainly enough for two people but, as pasta lovers, we couldn’t resist the pappardelle that was combined with sautéed asparagus and a Catalan goat cheese. We both rated the mussels as “sensational” and the pasta “quite good.”
No wonder the Lowry was packed. The variety of food and drink choices was plentiful and the prices were extremely reasonable. We’re going back for the steak with pierogis, maybe the meatloaf, but definitely more beer tastings! Oh, and there’s plenty of parking.
Rich Reeder lives in CARAG.