moto-i gives diners an authentic Japanese culinary experience without requiring that they leave uptown Minneapolis. Unpasteurized draft sake is brewed inside the izakaya-influenced bar and restaurant; onsite production keeps this staple libation fresh and free of jet lag. Executive chef Omar forges Asian-fusion dishes that meld flavors such as whole fish served with handmade pickles and abura ramen peppered with smoked pork shoulder. Instead of airing football games and soccer matches, the restaurant’s TVs run live and pre-recorded sumo wrestling bouts simulcast from Japan, proving to diners that sports aren’t required by international law to include a ball.
The culinary team at Common Roots Cafe believes that the best way to create a welcoming restaurant is to fully embrace local flavor in every sense of the word. Even the interior speaks to this mission?reclaimed barn wood makes up the dining room's floorboards and tabletops, the counter is composed of recycled cardboard, and the air is one-hundred percent Minnesotan. The overall effect is one of casual warmth, an atmosphere that makes the cafe an ideal spot for guests to chew on eclectic, yet accessible, cuisine and relax with a choice of 10 local craft beers.
The menu itself also bursts with hometown pride, highlighting local organic and sustainable ingredients. As much as half of the restaurant's food comes from farms located within 250 miles of Minneapolis, while some produce is picked right outside the door at the cafe's urban garden. And since the selection of ingredients alters with the seasons, the chefs adapt their dishes each month to showcase their fresh flavors. Previous offerings have included redfish tacos with jicama slaw, mac 'n' cheese with local cheddar, and house-made tagliatelle pasta topped with a hearty bison bolognese sauce. Bites are complemented with sips from a drink list featuring wines?many made from organic grapes?and local beers. And, in the unlikely event that diners leave any food on their plates, the scraps are carefully composted to continue the cafe's green production cycle.
C&G’s Smoking Barbecue's owner and head chef Greg Alford has spent 40 years perfecting smoked barbecue ribs, tender beef-brisket sandwiches, and crispy, in-season perch that Heavy Table writer Jason Walker called, "the best I've had in a while". Rather than adhering to contemporary trends, the restaurateur dazzles Minnesota mouths with his unique blend of traditional cooking techniques borrowed from both Louisiana, where his family hails from, and Detroit, where he was raised. His ribs––which attracted Minnesota Monthly's July 2010 feature on the best barbecue spots in Minneapolis––are the joint's most popular item and arrive with an even tenderness that is the result of a three-hour smoking and heat-distributing process. Barbecue sauce is served on the side, according to the preference of both Greg and his regular customers, who believe that the best meat should be seasoned and balanced enough to perform alone or with the subtle accompaniment of doo-wop-singing french fries.
Creative dishes aim to turn the common meal into an artistic experience by adding international accents to classic country cooking. The Midwestern charm begins, as in any good farmhouse, with breakfast. Omelettes ($12) get a gourmet upgrade with options such as smoked salmon with brie and asparagus, or peppers with tomato, olives, and goat cheese. If your sweet tooth won't stop texting you, treat it to ricotta pancakes covered in raspberries and vanilla butter ($9) or irresistibly rich French toast with ginger cream, bananas, and walnuts ($10). Breakfast spills over into the lunch hour with the fried egg sandwich ($9), done up in its Sunday best with crispy bacon, sharp cheddar, and tomato jam. For something more traditionally lunchy, stick with the classic bacon cheeseburger ($13) or the spinach salad ($7), thoughtfully tossed with pear, spiced pecans, bleu cheese, and sweet onion. Dinner brings out the big guns to help heat your bodily furnace through the harsh Minnesota winter, with most dishes built around a single, classic staple (meat, fish, fowl, or pasta). The juicy Black Angus tenderloin ($37) is inventively accented with pickled mushrooms and bleu cheese, while the veal chop ($38) comes with mac 'n' cheese, mustard greens, and barbecue sauce.
After ascending two floors of ivory and ebony decor that adorns the Marquette Hotel, the subtle colors of Basil's Restaurant stand out. Tables and booths situated next to the third-story windows bathe in natural light during the breakfast and lunch rush. Dishes include the smoked salmon gravlax with capers and eggs or banana flambe french toast for breakfast and escalate to lunch eats such as lamb burgers with gruyere cheese or cider-brined pork chops. That's because Basil's Restaurant's chefs keep time with the sun, making sure to rotate their menus throughout the day.
At night, the ambiance imbues elegance, donning a backdrop of twinkling lights and views of the IDS Center's Crystal Court from the dining terrace. The chefs, too, work with finer ingredients and utensils that wear top hats in order to craft steak au poivre with a blueberry demi glaze or seared diver scallops with carrot and parsnip puree.
Split between "smaller bites" and "bigger bites," Executive Chef Kris Koch's concise menu at The SIX15 Room encompasses his travels around the globe. To bring his culinary vision to life, however, the born-and-raised Minnesotan sticks to locally sourced, sustainable ingredients, including seafood that complies with Monterey Bay Seafood Watch guidelines. Those fixings lend rich flavor to dishes such as local cheese platters, calamari fries with lemon mayo, and Mexican-inspired pizza topped with chorizo and caramelized onion sauce. To complement Kris's edibles, bartenders pour everything from craft beers to signature cocktails like the SIX15, a blend of house-made bloody-mary mix, house-infused Thai chili vodka, and house-infused bacon vodka.