For those hesitant to dine at Mysore Cafe for fear of its un-hip faÃ§ade, vegetarian menu, and medically suggestive name, here’s some advice: Get over it.
Mysore occupies an Uptown Minneapolis storefront, briefly filled by Antoine’s Creole Maison, that seems to be an undesirable space in a desirable location. The new restaurateurs hope to build on the success of their other eatery, New Delhi, but they have some aesthetic challenges, including raised tables by the window that make diners feel like models in a Macy’s display. What the cafÃ© lacks in ambiance, however, it makes up for with its authentic menu and attentive staff.
The restaurant’s name (“my-SOOR,” not “my sore”) comes from the southern Indian city of Mysore, the primary inspiration for its vegetarian fare. Indian food lovers weaned on the Punjab-focused comfort food that prevails in the Twin Cities—naan, chicken tikka masala, and tandoori meats—may need to recalibrate their expectations. South Indian—style cuisine, like that served at Nala Pak in Columbia Heights, has its own specialty dishes. In lieu of naan, there’s soft, flaky garlic paratha and crisp dosai, savory crÃªpes stuffed with spiced potatoes, paneer, and onion. Fried vegetables, such as the pakora appetizer or the earthy, golden raisin—laced navratan korma, a creamy, nutty mixed-vegetable curry, can easily substitute for the hearty richness of meat.
For the best introduction to Mysore, skip the Royal Thali sampler platter (a hodgepodge of redundant flavors), and try the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. It features a changing mix of curries, breads, soups, chutneys, and snacks, including such south Indian specialties as the coconut-vegetable curry, avail, tamarind-tinged rasam soup, tomato-based chutney, and puffy, deep-fried poori and batura breads. With nearly 30 distinct tastes, it’s easy to find a reason to return.
2819 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-871-1110 Â» Lunch and dinner served Tues.—Sun. $ [w]
What To Drink Now
Let’s face it: We’re all immigrants in this part of the world. Even American Indians had to hike here from Asia once upon a time. So the claim that Zinfandel is uniquely American is somewhat exaggerated. Still, it’s undisputable that Zinfandel came into its own after it reached our shores in a way that it never did in its native Croatia. In fact, of all the vinifera varieties that traveled across the pond from Europe, none has a better rags-to-riches story than Zinfandel.
But success has sometimes gone to this full-bodied wine’s head—and “legs”—as it can tend toward over-the-top fruitiness and bombastic alcohol levels. For this reason, Roger Clark of Surdyk’s recommends wines from Dry Creek Valley in California’s Sonoma County, which has a long history of producing food-friendly Zinfandel.
Containing less than 14 percent alcohol, Peterson’s 2002 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is easy on the palate but has enough substance and spice to stand up to boldly flavored food. With its affable personality and deep American roots, it’s a perfect choice for a Fourth of July barbecue.
Peterson Winery Dry Creek Zinfandel 2002,
$18.99 at Surdyk’s, 303 E.
Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-379-3232