Okay, we resolved on our trip to Singapore that once we got back home, we would finally face up to our new economic circumstances and start dining out less and eating more peanut butter sandwiches – if we can find peanut butter that is safe to eat. Except there is one tradition that we are not going to let go of, which is our annual Valentine’s Day dinner at the Atlas Grill, 200 S. 6th St., Minneapolis, where Carol and I had our wedding reception and dinner. (Actually, we had our wedding ceremony there, too, after we were rained out of Loring Park.)
I don’t know what chef Abbas has planned for this Saturday, but usually it’s seafood for Carol, and a mixed grill for me – including some lamb. This may be a sly reference to the original menu for our wedding dinner- Abbas had proposed doing a whole lamb, Persian-style “for presentation” – which, for Carol, who is a near-vegetarian, had about as much appeal as human sacrifice.
And, in spite of our new resolution, we are going out to dinner tonight as well. – if we can get in. A couple of our friends have invited us to join them at another of our favorite restaurants, Saffron, 123 N. 3rd St., Minneapolis. Chef Sameh Wadi’s February special is a twelve-course dinner for two of mezze, the traditional Middle Eastern version of tapas. Wadi says he learned a lot of the recipes from his mother; the selection includes baba ganoush, beef kibbe, stuffed grape leaves with rice, chicken kebobs with sumac, fried mussels with tahini sauce, and a flight of homemade ice creams and desserts. Cost is $55 for two, plus an additional $15 per person for glass of Arak with the mezze, Moscato d’Asti with dessert and a cup of Turkish coffee afterwards.
I don’t know where Steven Brown is going to be dining – or cooking – on Valentine’s Day, but word from Doug Anderson at Nick and Eddie is that the talented Mr. Brown will start cooking next Monday at his Loring Park establishment – “we aren’t sure in what capacity or for how long.” This isn’t permanent, says Anderson – just an interim place to land till Brown figures out what he is going to do next. Brown recently left Porter & Frye at the Ivy Hotel, where he was replaced by Joan Ida. Nick and Eddie seems to be a sort of half-way house these days for talented chefs between gigs: J.P. Samuelson has been working there short-term since his own restaurant closed, but he moves on Monday to his new gig at Solera.