12 Hour Braised Beef Short Ribs at Cedar + Stone. Photos by TJ Turner
Each month, in our restaurant rumble conversation, MnMo food critics Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers review two restaurants and pick a winner.
Jason: Sitting in the dining room of Cedar + Stone, it’s easy to forget that you’re in the Mall of America.
Joy: The view of the taxi stand and Ikea gave me an inkling.
Jason: You hate the suburbs, Joy—let’s get that out in the open. I thought the dining room was gorgeous.
Joy: I don’t hate the suburbs. I just can’t always find them. The Megamall was home to my first job upon moving to the Twin Cities, so it holds a special place in my heart. (Someday I’ll regale you with my tales from Perfumania.)
Jason: The food isn’t fine-dining style, but the service was—I saw a former La Belle Vie server.
Joy: Our server was warm without being overly friendly, enthusiastic, and incredibly knowledgeable.
Jason: The bar could easily be a destination for shoppers.
Joy: Agreed. We started with cocktails, including a glorious take on the Manhattan and a spritely “grapfrukt” with gin, grapefruit crema, and a bubbly topper that teetered gracefully between tart and sweet.
Jason: If I were shopping, I’d stop in for a drink and one of their nice salads, either the torn kale with a bright lemon vinaigrette, or the farmer with pancetta and a yummy caramelized shallot dressing.
Baked Gouda Mac & Cheese
Joy: The ingredients are locally sourced whenever possible and all the farm partners are listed on the menu—a nice way to boost their visibility when most
diners here will be from out of town.
Jason: The high-end entrées in some cases don’t measure up to their price tags. The filo-dusted walleye looked bland and tasted slightly better, but for $26? Much better off with the 12-hour braised beef short rib: juicy, tender, and served with cheddar grits for $22.
Joy: We mostly stuck to small plates and sides. My favorite was the astounding crispy-fried, honey-kissed Brussels sprouts. If Brussels sprouts and McDonald’s French fries had a baby, that’s what this would be.
Jason: They were like candy!
Joy: Tell me you brought the kids and had the mac and cheese. Elbow macaroni and melted Gouda topped with crushed Goldfish crackers served in a little cast iron pan—exactly what you want it to be!
Jason: My kids went for the croque Monsieur, and they loved it: ham and Gruyère on thick tasty bread.
Joy: We didn’t love everything: The wild rice soup was bland, as was the broccolini. Both needed a little salt or acid to jolt them out of their slumber. But the pizza was a good, simple, solid bet.
Jason: In summary, the wine list is incredible and deep, the service is polished, and the local focus mostly works. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Cedar + Stone is the best restaurant South of 494.
Joy: Best restaurant in a hotel with a view of Ikea in all of Minnesota, no question. Kidding aside, I will certainly head back for Brussels and booze.
Cedar + Stone Quick Tips:
Parking: In the hotel, you have to pay $10, but the mall lots are free
Price tag: Can be a bit spendy—entrées range from $18 to $48
Kid Friendly? Yes!
June’s restaurant rumble pitted the old-school charm of Mucci’s against the sleek and modern Cedar + Stone. Find out which restaurant Jason and Joy chose as the winner in the June issue of MnMo.
Cedar + Stone, JW Marriott, Mall of America, Bloomington, 612-615-0100, marriott.com