Monday, December 28, 2009

A couple restaurant reviews...

I've had the occasion to dine at a couple new restaurants with my lovely bride (and good friends on one of the occasions). I wrote a review on a dining website for the newest one, so I thought I'd re-print it here too. I seem to get a lot of crap for not writing more on my blog. I guess nothing new and exciting happens to FWK once the snow and cold hit! Anyway, here is a copy of the review I wrote for a new restaurant located in Uptown, called "IL GATTO" (The Cat). Il Gatto is located in the former home of Figlio, and is owned by the same restaurant group, called Parasole. Figlio was a pretty darned good restaurant. It was dependable, good happy hour specials, and fun to go to. After 20 some years, Parasole decided to close Figlio and open up Il Gatto. Here is the review I posted on, a reservation website:

Seating at the tables in the dining areas is jam packed. If you enjoy sitting at your table with your elbows resting upon fellow diners chairs, this is for you! I've never been in a restaurant where diners were so jammed together. I immediately complained. After 5 minutes, we were given the option of another table, about 10 feet away, just as jammed. I said we'd prefer a booth. Within 10 minutes, one emptied out and we were re-seated. The staff was extremely prompt and courteous. Be forwarned, if you are going to dine at Il Gatto, ask for a booth. The food was fair to average. I would not go back for dinner for some time. Happy hour should be OK. It is VERY LOUD! Tab for 4 was $167/w tip, 1 btl wine,3 beers,2 drinks,3 entree,1 app.

Il Gatto isn't the cat's meow...

This past Sunday, my bride and I went to the Children's Theatre Company to see their latest rendition of "Cinderella." They have a production of it every 2 or 3 years, and it's been a while since we saw it. I bought tickets for us as part of a Christmas present for Diane. The play they present is put on as a complete farce. Extremely funny. The two step-sisters are played by men. If you've never seen it, it's well worth your time. The humor is for people of all ages. Anyway, afterwards we decided to go to downtown Mpls to dine somewhere. We hadn't decided where. We were thinking of either Hell's Kitchen or Barrio. We parked right across the street from Hell's Kitchen and decided to go there for a drink. This was our first time in the new location. They moved from 1 block away several months ago. The restaurant is located in the lower level of a building. We went in, sat down, and ordered a beer. A few minutes later, Tony, a server we've known for over 10 years walked in to begin his shift. He gave us a wave, and later, bought us a round of beers. Let me tell you about Tony. He's not the straightest of men, if you know what I mean. He worked for many years as a server at Sawatdee Thai restaurant in the warehouse district. His usual attire back then was died blond hair (he's African American), camo hot pants, and army boots. He was the maid of honor at the wedding of another couple we got to know back in the same time. Tony was dressed normally tonight. It was good to see him.

Hell's Kitchen has very good food. One of the quirky things they are known for is their peanut butter. It's hard to describe, but it's the best peanut butter I've ever had. They make it fresh on site. You can buy it to bring home, which we did.

Here is the link to their site:

As good as their food is, we decided we wanted to eat at Barrio, a Mexican restaurant, which is better known as a Tequila bar. We walked down the street, turned the corner, and there we were. Barrio is quite small, and very narrow. It is supposed to be one of the hottest happy hour bars downtown. Being a Sunday night, getting in wasn't a problem. We sat at the bar, and had 3 very good bartenders at our service.

I had a beer at first, and one of the bartenders and I had a very good discussion on tequila. I very rarely drink anything stronger then beer, but when I do, tequila is the beverage of choice. They claim to have 117 tequilas available to drink. Tequilas are like all other liquors, there are poor ones, good ones, excellent ones, and ones I can't afford! Their most expensive tequila is $95 a shot. Here is their tequila menu:

I ordered one margarita and it was excellent. I was driving, so that was all I had. Unlike most Mexican restaurants, Barrio doesn't give free chips and salsa. Their chips come with freshly made guacamole, and it was absolutely fabulous. We decided to get small plates. Diane ordered a black bean and chicken tostada, I ordered corn chowder (based on a review I read) and a fish taco. The fish taco was only $4, so I figured it to be small. It was, so I ordered another one because it was excellent. Diane and I both loved the meal for one very simple reason, everything tasted so fresh! Not a new concept, but one we appreciate. We will definitely go there again. Maybe next Sunday! Our bill of 2 wines, 1 beer, 1 margarita, chips, soup, tostada, and 2 fish tacos was $70 with tip. Here is the link to their website:

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