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Best New Restaurants

Brunch. Power Lunch. Date Night. Fine dining. We’ve picked our Fresh favorites for every dining situation—plus 13 restaurants that have stood the test of time

Best New Restaurants
Photo by Terry Brennan

(page 1 of 4)

 

BRUNCH 

Good Day Café

Restaurant breakfasts can be such a snoozer: eggs and toast and hash that you could have just as easily whipped up at home. But at the Good Day Café, adjacent to the Metropolitan Ballroom in Golden Valley, brunch is a meal worth the wake-up call.

The café’s bright, sunny space feels like a place where the country-club class gathers when they want to loosen their ties and slip off their loafers. Proprietor David Webb has taken his successful restaurant formula (he and his brother Rick collectively own Zelo, Ciao Bella, Bacio, and the restaurant that Good Day replaced, Coco Lezzone) and applied it to the breakfast biz. Morning standards are dialed up a notch: The eggs Benedict are served with lush crab cakes, the fried-egg sandwich piled high with ham and avocado. And they’re supplemented with a bevy of bakery items, from beignets to caramel rolls, and a full coffee bar that delivers a sure-fire sugar-caffeine kick-start.

The only problem with Good Day is that, during peak times, it’s impossible to get a table. If they ever start taking reservations, we’ll never sleep through breakfast again.

Best Meal: The glazed-doughnut pancakes with an obnoxiously rich chocolate-coconut coffee drink dubbed the Almond Joy. 5410 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley, 763-544-0205

The Classic
The first meal of the day is as elegant as the last at the Nicollet Island Inn, a historic hotel on the edge of the Mississippi. The Nicollet’s $30, five-course plated brunch starts off with petite house-made pastries and then offers a sampling of traditional and trendy fare. After a meal of egg-and-sausage bake, chicken-liver bruschetta, crème brûlée French toast, and grapefruit gelée, you’ll want to celebrate with another mimosa. 95 Merriam St., Mpls., 612-331-1800


BUSINESS MEETINGS

Bank

Business all boils down to trust, so if you need to seal a deal while you dine, pick a place that’s an institution, not the latest flash-in-the-pan. The problem with traditional restaurants, however, is that sometimes they’re too traditional—the food hasn’t changed for decades. Bank, though, offers both timelessness and taste. It’s housed in an elegant, historic space—the Art Moderne lobby of the former Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank in downtown Minneapolis—but the restaurant is brand new, with a menu of enlivened classics.

The food may be familiar, but it has a modern, luxurious touch: The deviled eggs are sprinkled with three types of caviar; the Kobe-beef burger comes topped with smoked bacon, sharp Cheddar, and roasted tomatoes; the grilled salmon is accompanied by ramps and trumpet mushrooms. The drink selection may be the best of the menu lists, as the carefully crafted cocktails are made with fresh herbs and juices. A blueberry mojito, watermelon margarita, or Bank’s titular drink—garnished with flecks of gold leaf—should ease even the most difficult negotiations.

Best Meal: Start with the hot-chili raspberry cosmo, the shrimp rolls, and the arugula salad. Then have the lamb with braised white beans, ratatouille, and rosemary-mint gremolata followed by a few tiny, shotglass-size desserts. 88 S. Sixth St., Mpls., 612-656-3255

The Classic
With its mahogany woodwork and polished brass, the St. Paul Grill’s classic dining room feels like the clubhouse for last century’s railroad magnates and lumber barons. The frosted-glass partitions between the booths allow extra privacy for politicians and power brokers to seal deals over steaks and single-malt scotches—the same way they’ve been doing things for decades. 350 Market St., St. Paul, 651-224-7455

 

DATE NIGHT

Photo by Terry Brennan

Café Maude

Unless you plan in advance, date night is going to have to be a late-night if you want to snag a table at Café Maude. The former Connor’s Deli space has been mobbed by its Armatage neighbors since it opened this summer—and for good reason.

Café Maude possesses a comfortable sophistication: The walls are painted dark hues of red, gold, and blue, and the room is furnished with plush benches, eclectic art, and mismatched light fixtures. On weekends, live bands play experimental jazz or world music. It all goes together precisely because it doesn’t: Opposites attract, just like you two, right?

The creative drink list was crafted by La Belle Vie’s stellar bartender Johnny Michaels, and a blackberry mojito or fig-espresso martini is sure to relax the mood. For a non-alcoholic alternative, the sassy marshmallow Peep–topped blue raspberry lemonade makes a great flirtation device. Snacky, sharable small plates range from the substantive half-a-chicken or hanger steak, to lighter salads, sides, and flatbreads. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s done right. Seared ahi tuna, for example, can be a cliché, but Maude’s version—served on buttery toasts with guacamole, microgreens, and citrus vinaigrette—is a sublimely tasty take. And none of the dishes are more than $12, so your cheap date doesn’t have to feel like one.

Best Meal: The Woman of Leisure lychee cocktail paired with the ahi tuna and the mixed-green salad with avocado, duck confit, and citrus vinaigrette. Be sure to save room for the delightfully light lemon cheesecake with blackberry compote. 5411 Penn Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-5411

The Classic
Though romance isn’t immediately associated with this acclaimed Warehouse District gastropub, 112 Eatery is a great date spot for several reasons. First, securing a reservation the requisite month in advance is a testament to your commitment. Second, the main dining room has the intimacy of a speakeasy, with noise levels that require diners to lean in close. Third, you can linger as long as you want to, as the kitchen turns out its amazing meals— bacon, egg, and harissa sandwiches, steak tartare, tagliatelle with foie gras meatballs, and more—until 1 a.m. 112 N. Third St., Mpls., 612-343-7696

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