Porter & Frye Lunch and Vegetarian Champagne Dinner

I read press reports saying Porter & Frye, the restaurant in the Ivy Hotel that was briefly one of the best restaurants the Twin Cities has ever had, under Steven Brown, was back. This didn’t jibe with what I’d heard from other people—like that they were no longer serving breakfast or lunch in their dining room—so I went on over to check it out. I was rewarded for my trouble with one of the worst lunches in memory.

When I got there I learned indeed, they no longer serve lunch in the dining room; they’d like you to eat in “the Ivy lounge,” that is, tables in the lobby. Seeing that the dining room was open, I asked if there was any chance we could actually eat in the restaurant, and the staff sweetly accomodated. I then asked for the bar’s legendary cocktail list, as I was bent on ordering a fancy lemonade. No dice. All the wonderful non-alcoholic drinks are gone. I asked for the lunch menu (the one on the restaurant’s website is quite appealing, listing some 20 options). No dice again; they serve only a very abbreviated version of that at lunch now—little more than calamari, Caesar salad, burgers, and pizza. So I got one of each. The calamari was adequate, if pallid and flopsy.

The Caesar salad was a catastrophe: A giant pile of greens were dressed with a watery pale nothing and two pricey white Spanish anchovies perched on top as if shipwreck victims calling for help and restoration to a salad more fitting for them. I wasn’t sure at first what the black lump beside the salad was—grilled bread? Nope, a chicken breast singed to charcoal. The pizza had a crust that was chewy and unpleasant. The burger was pretty good, but not good-good, more like there’s-got-to-be-something-I-can-eat-here good. I’m not sure how the restaurant is at dinner, but as of this writing, Porter and Frye isn’t even really a restaurant at lunch.

In other news…

Vegetarians get the short end of the stick when it comes to some of the plushest dining in the Twin Cities—the periodic wine dinners that pop up offering course after course of dinner matched with special wines. But not this month! Patrick Atanalian at the Sanctuary will be serving a five-course vegetarian wine dinner on August 25th. Each course will be local vegetables from local farmers celebrating the height of harvest, paired with Champagne. (If you’ve got a troublesome date who must have meat, that person will be accommodated. How’s that for a turn from the usual?) Atanalian also tells me he just revamped the Sanctuary menu, adding more big dishes to share. (And of course Sanctuary’s claim to fame, the Monday–Thursday five-course tasting menu for $35 continues.)

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