Where to dine on New Year’s Eve – Part I

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Monday night is cheap date night at the Bryant Lake Bowl – two soups or salads, two entrees, a bottle of wine, and two lines of bowling for $28. And since New Years Eve happens to fall on a Monday, they are offering a Not So Cheap Date Night – the same deal for $32, but with better than usual entrees and wine, and tablecloths on the table.

They don’t take reservations for dinner, but you can guarantee yourself a seat if you reserve tickets for the Scrimshaw New Years Eve Spectacular, performed at 7 and 10:30 at the BLB Theater. The show, by perennial Fringe Festival favorites the Scrimshaw Brothers, is billed as “comedy, music, dance, special surprise guests, and more broken resolutions than you can shake a Scrimshaw at!” The full BLB menu is available in the theater. There are some risks attached to sitting in the dark in a theater full of people who are eating and laughing at the same time, but heck, New Years Eve is the night to live on the edge. Showtimes are 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., and tickets are $20, or $15 with a Fringe Festival button. You can reserve tickets online by going to the BLB website, or by calling 612-825-8949.

Bryant Lake Bowl, 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-825-3737.

At BLB’s sister restaurant, Barbette, new executive chef Sarah Master is raising the gastronomic level a notch or two with a selection of a la carte New Years Eve specials such as bison carpaccio with arugela and shaved pecorino ($9), red deer with cherry-vanilla demi-glace, glazed vegetables and mustard spaetzle ($27), and butter-poached lobster with asparagus, tarragon potato cakes and caviar crème fraiche ($35).

Barbette, 1600 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-827-5710.

The very romantic Grand Café is offering a six-course prix fixe menu for $65, and a modified version for vegetarians for $10 less. The structure of the menus is the same, but the vegetarian agnolotti are stuffed with celeriac, while the carnivores get foie gras; the seafood course of diver scallops with lobster sauce is replaced by polenta with sweet carrot sauce, and while the meat eaters get with a potato and cepe pave, the vegetarians get the potato and cepe pave without accompanying animal flesh.

Grand Cafe Minneapolis, 3804 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-822-8260.

Creating a menu that combines the spirit of a Northeast tavern with the structure of a five-course $65 French prix fixe menu isn’t easy, but the chef at the Sample Room has risen to the challenge: the first course offers choices such as country pate en croute with Cumberland sauce, (in lieu of meatloaf), and performing the role of bratwurst, a house-made maple chicken sausage. Entrees choices include a beef tenderloin, chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, and striped sea bass with sautéed spinach and walnut butter sauce, but also a tavern classic – roast breast of turkey with brown gravy and butternut squash puree.

The Sample Room, 2124 Marshall St. N.E., Minneapolis, 612-789-0333.

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