There is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, nothing unexpected, nothing innovative or of-the-moment about the menu at Mason’s Restaurant Barre. And that’s just the first reason to like this place.
The “barre,” a pun on its location inside the Cowles Center for Dance, fills a wide-open niche in downtown Minneapolis: it is spacious, comfortable, friendly, quiet, reasonably priced, and pretension-free. What’s more, the kitchen stays open until midnight (2 a.m. on weekends), only to reopen again at 7 a.m. to serve a diner-style hot breakfast, which is available all day.
The measure of any cook, they say, is a simple, succulent roast chicken. Mason’s passes that test easily. It’s a tossup between that and the tender, juicy Reuben for the best item on the menu. If you just need a hot dog, choose the Italian, overflowing with hot onions and peppers, over the Pretzel, with its lackluster mustard-cheese sauce. If you’re here for snacks and drinks, get the thick, creamy, from-scratch hummus rather than the house-made tots. These get points for effort but, in the end, they’re just dense, bland cylinders of shredded potato with the slightest suggestion of southwestern spice.
How do you end a deliciously ordinary dinner? With a slice of deliciously ordinary flourless chocolate cake, which puts the perfect punctuation mark on a meal that won’t change your life but just might make your evening.
Mason’s Restaurant Barre
528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis