From its humble origins as a soda fountain in 1930s Saint Paul, Green Mill Restaurant and Bar has grown into a franchise with more than 28 locations all over Minnesota and the Midwest. As TV screens blast sports news in the background, patrons at each eatery dine on a menu of classic American and pizzeria fare. Thick, hand-pressed burgers form bunned towers with hefty toppings such as smoked bacon, haystack onions, and chipotle mayo. Families looking to bond can practice fractions on regular, deep-dish, or thin and crispy pizzas or group juggling acts with samplers of 27 juicy wings. In addition to pastas and salads, each location's bar carries a varied drink menu that includes draft beers such as Blue Moon and Samuel Adams alongside wine, martinis, and margaritas.
Uptown Diner?s chefs serve classic breakfast and lunch dishes with creative twists. They revamp the waffle with a topping of cooked cinnamon-apple chunks, caramel, whipped cream, granola, and cinnamon sugar. And chocolate-chip cookie-dough and pineapple upside-down pancakes are among their other sweet breakfast options. Those with recently pulled sweet teeth can check out the catfish breakfast or one of five varieties of eggs benedict. During lunchtime hours, chefs toss cashews into a chicken-salad sandwich and serve the Uptown burger on thick-cut sourdough toast.
At The Tea Garden, the brewers can blend exactly 2,331,091 drink possibilities. Besides iced black or green tea, they whip up iced tea lattes or chai shakes, with or without sippable tapioca pearls or fruit jellies in flavors such as pineapple and green apple. If someone needs to warm up or seek vengeance upon the snow for covering their car, the tea experts can create hot tea lattes or simply brew a cup of tea with 1 of more than 50 loose-leaf tea varieties, most of which are fair trade and organic. Art from local artists adorns the walls at The Tea Garden, and on weekend nights, ears prick up at the sounds from a live DJ or jazz players.
Combining the familiarity of eating in with the comfort of having other people cook for you, Duplex offers delectable dishes in the intimate confines of a hybrid house-restaurant. For lunch, try an order of crowd-baiting poutine (fries topped with white cheddar cheese curds and brown gravy, $6.99), potato gnocchi (with roasted portobello mushrooms, dried tomatoes, shallots, and parmesan, $13.69), or a beef brisket sandwich (Angus beef topped with caramelized onions and dijon, $8.99). Like car-eating monster-truck exhibitions, brunch is reserved for Sunday and offers items such as roasted beets with St. Pete’s blue cheese ($7.99) and trout soft scramble (scrambled eggs, smoked trout, cream cheese, cilantro, green onion, orange crème fraiche, and toast, $8.99). For dinner, you can sample the coconut curry black-bean soup ($4.99), grilled hangar steak (with dijon demi-glace, braised bok choy, caramelized onion, and potato gratin, $19.99), or blackened catfish (served on creamy tomato cilantro hominy, $16.99).
Formerly the Mt. Fuji restaurant, the robust menu hasn't changed at Kiku Bistro, which predominantly features Japanese staples with splashes of Thai and French influences. At the Uptown location, chefs occasionally leave the kitchen and man the hibachi grills that adorn select tabletops. There, they entertain hungry audiences by searing entrees of chicken, sea scallops, and filet mignon while correctly naming each of 6,852 islands in the Japanese archipelago.
Meals of sashimi and maki offers offer an equally artistic flair but fewer open flames. Sushi chefs pack a crunch into their special rolls by incorporating such ingredients as lobster tempura and deep-fried soft-shell crab, accenting their creations with signature sauces.
With an emphasis on freshness, Rinata's menu changes daily to take advantage of the best ingredients available. Start with the sharp, creamy tones of the baked Bulgarian feta ($6.75) or the tongue-staining comforts of beet salad ($7.25). Rinata's pizzas are bursting with gourmet flavors; hack triangles from a circle of housemade sausage with roasted fennel and fresh mozzarella ($9.75) or artichoke with olives, pesto, and fresh mozzarella ($9.75). All of Rinata's pastas are freshly made in-house to ensure that each noodle is imbued with love and the ability to see through walls. The bucatini alla amatriciana features a hollow, spaghetti-style pasta, creating a delicate al dente snap when served with pancetta, chili flakes, and tomato ($13.50).