Erin from Minneapolis writes in: “I’m about to have a minor milestone birthday (35) on a Saturday, which almost certainly necessitates some kind of ‘going out.’ The majority of my friends have kids, and birthdays are times when people fork over the cash for a babysitter so we can all get together. I feel compelled to pick a venue which will appeal to everyone else (and, ultimately, to me, I hope) and I haven’t come up with anything great. In recent years, I’ve celebrated at Chino Latino and Lurcat. Since there is no chance I will be able to get my friends to all report to a certain location at a certain time, I’m thinking I need a venue where friends can ‘stop by,’ with good drinks, good food (small plates, not big dinner), and really good atmosphere. Also, my favorite thing about birthdays is cake. Even more important than presents. Like, if I could have a party at Wuollet’s with martinis and mood lighting, I’d be the happiest girl in the world. So, Dara, where in Minneapolis (or, could be St. Paul) should I go?”
Well, happy birthday, Erin! Interesting predicament: Great bars that aren’t too crowded (and thus can accommodate comings and goings), have great food, can deal with people coming in and getting individual checks, and serve great cake. What about Nick and Eddie? I’ve loved that lately, and it’s definitely drop-in friendly if you get a table in the bar, has delicious desserts, delicious small plates, and so on.
This has probably occurred to you already, but: How about the bar at La Belle Vie? It has wonderful everything, is drop-in friendly, and of course, has wonderful cake—by Diane Yang. Also: Bradstreet Craftshouse? Wonderful bar, wonderful desserts by Khanh Tran. The desserts at the whole Parasole group of restaurants (Il Gatto, Chino Latino et al) have improved since they brought on local pastry genius Adrienne Odom. Il Gatto might be crowded for dropping in, however. (Ditto Lucia’s. Spectacular desserts, but try to bring a group to the wine bar on a Saturday. It’s too good and too well known, it can’t be done.)
Another thought: What about one of the rooftop bars? You might not be able to plan this till the day-of but on a sunny day the rooftop bars at Solera (more Diane Yang desserts), Japanese sake bar Moto-I, or even Joe’s Garage might be perfect.
But that’s merely one critic’s best ideas: Anyone else got anything for Erin? It is her birthday, after all. And she needs a great bar with great cake!