DiFfErEnT DiSh – Cafe Bar Lurcat

On this months edition of DiFfErEnT DiSh, it was my turn to surprise and treat Nellie to a special date night. After all, we were celebrating our first year of marriage (5/25/2013). I wanted something classy and fun, yet I wanted it to be unique. So I dug around a little bit and found a new Twin Cities hotspot that I felt would be the perfect place. So I put my plan in motion by calling in a reservation for 5:30PM that night.

Nestled in a vibrant nook Downtown Minneapolis is where this trendy gem is located, Cafe & Bar Lurcat. Conveniently our anniversary landed on a Sunday this year and it seemed too perfect that this restaurant offered a special date night that aligned. So weekly on Sundays they offer a really great deal for couples; a three coarse meal for both and their selection of a red, white or bubbly. All of this for only $50!

When I placed the reservation, I also made a note to inquire as to the dress attire which they readily offered up as clean and casual. So the queen and I both cleaned up but dressed in our street attire. As we often do, we were running a good 10 minutes late, so I called in to ensure that we would not lose our place and the hostess was very charming and sweet. It was no problem and soon there after we were arriving.  Parking was a snap and though they don’t have a ton of free parking slots, there were plenty of pay meters available and that really doesn’t bother me much.

Super excited for dinner and sharing company with one another. I love this girl... and the Lurcat was pretty great too!

Super excited for dinner and sharing company with one another. I love this girl… and the Lurcat was pretty great too!

After getting the entrance doors mixed up we eventually found our way in and were warmly greeted.  We were then escorted through the restaurant from one side to the other and sat at a cute table for two.  It was impressive how large the interior was and how the space was used.  There almost appeared to be three main dining spaces and an outside patio. I recall Nellie and I discussing how great it would be to reserve one of their rooms for a large party or celebration.  It was a beautiful interior that gave a welcoming and modern yet rustic feel to it.

A service staff member ensured that our waters were filled and that our server would be right with us. Good service so far! Our table was right next to a large window which seemed to be a theme for the wall facing the street. This feature gave great natural lighting and also a sweet view of Loring Park and the surrounding area. Across the room was an open kitchen where you were able to see many different artisan chefs busily working and preparing their work stations. Seeing all that they were doing, made you feel like the food was going to be really great.

Soon our server for the evening greeted us and made sure that we knew a little about the place. Quickly we decided upon the date night special and he proceeded to walk us through the menu recommending a few dishes in particular. See the picture collage a little further below to see the options that we selected.  We decided against a bottle of wine and instead Nell wanted a Red Sangria, yummy!  He took $15 off our tab and just charged us for the drinks separately, not bad. Shortly after taking off to fulfill our order in their POS system, his assistant delivered to us a basket of hot fresh-baked baguette style bread. It really was some of the best I have had.

My wife Nellie enjoying her Sangria. Super tasty warm bread brought by the wait staff assistant, awesome! Date Night menu totally rocks!

My wife Nellie enjoying her Sangria. Super tasty warm bread brought by the wait staff assistant, awesome! Date Night menu totally rocks!

We found it rather unique that servers at the Lurcat also had their own assistance to help keep service at a premium. It was much welcomed and together they made a great team at delivering our food, keeping our glasses full and table clean. Each course had an incredible amount of flavor and pleasant textures, some would say that it really was cooked to perfection! As we chatted and shared each of our dishes with each other Nellie and I were able to reminisce on our first year of being married. With our successes and shortcomings, we together realize that it is things like ‘Date Night’ that keep relationships going.

Our three coarse meals were awesome. The serving sizes were petite but by the end we were full.  We recommend sharing the plates so you can enjoy a bit of each dish! Very tasty!

Our three coarse meals were awesome. The serving sizes were petite but by the end we were full. We recommend sharing the plates so you can enjoy a bit of each dish! Very tasty!

By the time we were wrapping up our dinner at around 7:15PM, the place had quickly filled out with couples, some coming as double-dates. Everyone seemed to be in a really good mood, perhaps it was the good deal, maybe the wine or if not that then hopefully cause they were all spending a little time with their significant other. The Sunday special for couples is the way to go. For a first-timer to the Lurcat, it provides an affordable way to experience a top-notch gourmet restaurant and for those that frequent it allows a great way to unwind without breaking the bank.

Soon it was desert time and we both ordered what we wanted and enjoyed the sweet and chocolatey end to our date. This gentleman paid the tab and thanked our wait staff.

Cafe Bar Lurcat – Recap:

  • Food – 5/5 stars
  • Decor – 4/5 stars
  • Music – 3/5 stars (**note this score reflects my wife’s opinion, neither of us recall it being significantly note worthy, chill background music that allows conversation between couples flow**)
  • Service – 5/5 stars
  • Price – $$$

Till next time, this was DiFfErEnT DiSh – May 2014!

Good Night!

Good Night!

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DiFfErEnT DiSh – Brasa

Trying out a new restaurant each has been a lot of fun, especially when your basically locked inside during these cold months here in Minneapolis. The DiFfErEnT DiSh concept has been one of the few little joys that Nellie and I have been able to look forward to and our March 2014 experience was a great one! It was Nell’s turn to select a spot and she hit trending hipster food heaven when she selected Brasa!

A newer spot in the North East part of the cities that seems to be trending with many new foodie options.  Brasa, a restaurant where the cook staff have apparently mastered the wizardry of rotisserie. Having had it mentioned to her several times from friends, she felt that it would be a good place for us to visit and I am glad we did.  The restaurant itself is a break from the norm.  There is a unique atmosphere when you enter; It’s almost like entering an old automotive car shop with double glass garage doors just waiting for warmer weather to be sprung open.

We arrived at approximately 8:15PM for a late dinner. I was surprised to see how tiny the seating area was when we walked through the door.  However, we were kindly greeted by a host / server and told that there was a short wait (approximately 10 minutes, so we did). Luckily, it gave us a chance to look around and catch a starter beverage at their combo bar and to-go.  Apparently there are many customers that order ahead and get some gourmet food and take it home.

Enjoyed a few drinks as we relaxed and waiting for our food to arrive.  Nell was looking cute as always!

Enjoyed a few drinks as we relaxed and waiting for our food to arrive. Nell was looking cute as always!

Nellie sipped her Red Sangria and I enjoyed an Ace Apple Cider while a few tables were being cleared.  Soon we were sat and reviewing a very simplistic menu.  I was surprised that the menu was reasonably priced.  The menu design has the customer to start by picking a protein, then there are a slew of sides you choose from.  The menu is very much a-la-cart which makes it easy to make a few selections and share.  We shared the rotisserie chicken and pulled pork and for sides we had sweet yams, yuca, greens, and plantains.  Everything was quite delicious and sharing the meal made the experience unique and a lot of fun.

Our server was quite polite and paid us just the right amount of attention. There really was not any noticeable music playing that I noticed, which would have been nice, but we were busy chatting and sharing conversation.  With so much going on at the moment for the both of us, we never have a shortage of things to discuss.  I am not sure if they have dessert, but I didn’t see it when reviewing the menu and was not asked if we wanted any, sad face.

A look at our fantastic food, cooked fresh and to perfection! The atmosphere was full of close corridor chatter and tasty food aromas! Yummy!

A look at our fantastic food, cooked fresh and to perfection! The atmosphere was full of close corridor chatter and tasty food aromas! Yummy!

When we had our fill, our tab was delivered and we were left smiling.  With everything going on in the next coming months, including weddings, baby showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties, it was nice not spending a lot on a really good dinner.  The price point was much better than some of the other places we have been. It was a great spot and we will definitely recommend it to our friends looking for a quaint little dinner.

Brasa Recap:

  • Food – 4/5 stars
  • Decor – 3/5 stars
  • Music – NA/5 stars
  • Service – 4/5 stars
  • Price – $$

Till next time, this was DiFfErEnT DiSh – March 2014!

DiFfErEnT DiSh – Borough

As you can recall, Nellie set the bar pretty high in our debut edition of DiFfErEnT DiSh – MARIN! So the pressure was on for me to find some really good dining options to rival our amazing start. I dug deep, and I mean deep, and I found my inner foodie-self and came up with a fantastic short list of fine dining options!

Conveniently on the way home, I stopped and picked up a bottle of wine and was able to unwind before our evening was to commence. So I sipped some sweet white wine and listened to country music while I ironed out my attire for the evening.  Nell had not yet arrived home yet, which was fine by me, I was finally able to take a moment for myself. My weeks have recently been held hostage by a very demanding grad school course load; so this was really nice.

Soon my Mrs. arrived and we were able to finish getting ready together. We snapped a few selfies and were quickly out the door. She definitely knows how to get glamorous and tonight was not an exception, she was spot on.  After her asking a few times where we dining, I finally caved and told her.  We would be trying one of the Twin Cities new hot spots, The Borough!

Checking out the Borough on this episode of DiFfErEnT DiSh! It's a new and trending restaurant which provides great atmosphere and excellent service!

Checking out the Borough on this episode of DiFfErEnT DiSh! It’s a new and trending restaurant which provides great atmosphere and excellent service!

I felt that this place had a cool rustic feel mixed with a few tasteful accents that would deliver the upscale dining atmosphere. It definitely delivered. When we arrived the hostess politely greeted us and we quickly took us to a quiet table by the windows. I felt a few complements being sent our way from the glances we received from those casually dining and chit chatting. We started catching up with normal work and school conversation, it seems like we get little time together these days because we are both very busy.  I am proud of her though, she has really taken her career to new levels lately, and she knows it! The conversation kept coming and we let it flow, the bottle of wine that we shared only helped to grease the wheels of more gossip.

We had a great server, he was rather animated and made us feel excited about the items on the menu.  Our hunger had grown and we were eager to try new dishes.  The Borough has more of an american style cuisine but offers some unique flavors, so we didn’t hold back.  For our 1st and 2nd courses we decided to split the plates and order our own main entries and share. The *Hamachi was absolutely delightful and the Octopus was very very excellent.  They were recommended on several reviews that I read and now I know that they weren’t lying, absolutely delicious. We continued sipping on some wine as we ate some bread as our main course was prepared. I went with the Short Rib and Nell went with the Chicken entrée, both were very well prepared but were again smaller portions.

A picture collage of our evening, cause nothing spells out a good evening with your wife than a bunch of selfies! We had a really fun time tasting some new dishes!

A picture collage of our evening, cause nothing spells out a good evening with your wife better than a bunch of selfies! We had a really fun time tasting some new dishes at this classy upscale restaurant!

Overall this place has great service and a nice staff to ensure that your having a quality experience, but this does come with a price tag.  Another wards, if you don’t plan on spending a lot, then you might have to borrow money just to pay your Borough tab; I know bad pun, lol. We didn’t sweat it, with a quick swipe we settled up and started the car from across the street. We said our goodbyes and like a gentleman, I retrieved the car and picked up my queen.  This was another fun dining experience and the night was well spent in the best company!

Borough Recap:

  • Food – 4/5 stars
  • Decor – 3.5/5 stars
  • Music – 3/5 stars
  • Service – 5/5 stars
  • Price – $$$

Stick with us as we see what Nellie surprises me with next month, stay tuned for our next DiFfErEnT DiSh!

DiFfErEnT DiSh – MARIN

As a fun spin on making resolutions and setting new goals for 2014, a creative idea came to me.  It would be recorded as a unique relationship building goal called DiFfErEnT DiSh.  The concept is very simple and should prove to keep my courtship with the beautiful Mrs. Nellie happy and healthy for another year.  Which shouldn’t be hard, I mean we are still pretty much newly weds!

How it works: Essentially my spouse and I have agreed to setting up a date night each month this year where we will visit a new eatery or trendy restaurant that we have never been to before. And for an added measure of spiciness, I decided that we would alternate months and keep secret our selections until the moment of arrival.

1.9.2014 – MARIN

The MARIN Restaurant and Bar.

The MARIN Restaurant and Bar was host to a friendly vibe, warm decor and good music. My sweetie surprised me with her choice and all I can say is “well-played”, she has set the bar! #DiFfErEnTDiSh

Our special dinner date was to start promptly at 7:30 P.M. on a casual Thursday evening. After getting spiffed up we left the house and Nellie navigated us downtown. I thought to my self that this was going to be interesting. After having worked in the vicinity for several years, I had a preconceived notion that I had pretty much tried all the restaurants downtown, but I guess I was wrong.

When we arrived at the MARIN, we were happy to find a close public parking option that was both affordable and somewhat heated (bonus – especially in January). I snapped a couple of pictures of the entrance as we made our way inside.  Nellie and I were both promptly greeted and were soon sat at a cozy table in the middle of the establishment.  The staff was very gracious and everyone seemed to be in a warm mood.  Once we were sat we finally had the chance to let the amenities and decor sink in. It had a nice atmosphere one that was best described by Nellie as “modern, sheek and classy”, for a second there I had thought she had started on a tangent about herself, lol.

I couldn’t have agreed with her more, the place was charming and the accompanying music was really good.  I thought about asking what satellite radio channel they were playing.  It was a consortium of classic rock and smooth mellow rifts that blended well. Thankfully it was not too loud and we were able to finally do what we had primarily set out to do, spend time together talking and sharing about our work week.

We discussed in detail about things that were keeping us on our toes at the office and of course the latest gossip from our friendship circles. As we were discussing things we perused the MARIN’s dinner selections. Their seemingly Paleo influenced style menu was perfect for us as we both swore off carbs this month in an effort to combat the effects of too many holiday treats. Though the options were limited, they did offer a blend of different protein based dishes that were accompanied by a couple nicely prepared sides. I would consider the fair to be a bit on the spendy side for american, but once you calculate in the attentive service and atmosphere, you find yourself agreeing with the overall cost for the experience.

DiFfErEnT DiSh @ MARIN! Great food, enjoyed with the best company!

DiFfErEnT DiSh @ MARIN! Great food, enjoyed with the best company!

A couple of glasses of wine kept us company as we waited for our entrées which were served up shortly after. We both found them to be very well prepared; hats off to their head and sous-chefs.  I can tell that they are all about quality and not quantity, which I appreciated, yummy! Nellie had their roasted chicken while I had the pork tenderloin, we finished and being too full for dessert, paid our tab and made our way home.  It was a fun date and we really like this spot, we will be back again.

MARIN Recap:

  • Food – 4/5 stars
  • Decor – 4/5 stars
  • Music – 4/5 stars
  • Service – 4/5 stars
  • Price – $$$