Erin got an email from duplex with a coupon for a "buy one get one free entree" deal this past weekend. That answered the question of which restaurant we should go to next, so I made reservations for 7 on Saturday.
Duplex is named for its location; the restaurant is inside of a converted duplex house at 25th & Hennepin in Uptown. The location used to be a coffee shop that I remember driving by when Erin used to live near there. Being that it's inside of a house is cool, at the very least it's different from most of your restaurant experiences. They've cut walls out and added track lighting with hardwood floors throughout. They have outdoor seating on the street level and on the balcony upstairs; I would've loved to eat outside upstairs but it wasn't warm enough for that yet and ERIN DIDN'T HAVE A SWEATER! So we ate upstairs and indoors.
We got sat with a couple menus, the tap beer list is short - only three beers as I recall, and they were obscure. I think they had Boddington's, some random Belgian, and one other beer that I don't recall. Not being a Belgian fan, I went for the bottled beers, which they have plenty of. I got a Bell's Two Hearted but they have probably 20 - 25 different bottles of beer.
For an appetizer we got steamed mussels. I had never had these before (yep, we have a food blog and there are things we haven't tried, get over it) so I honestly didn't know what I was getting, but the ingredient list sounded fantastic - white wine, ginger, tomato, cilantro, Thai chili paste, scallions, butter. The mussels were good, and the sauce was excellent albeit pretty spicy; without the beer and bread it would've been way worse.
The special that night was a pan seared walleye that I wanted, but I couldn't justify the price, it was nearly double the other entrees. I opted for the shrimp spaghetti instead. The spaghetti had spinach leaves mixed in with the sauce and noodles which I had never seen before. There wasn't much sauce on the spaghetti but it was still delicious, and the portion was surprisingly modest considering that restaurants normally give you way too much to eat, this was a reasonable portion.
Our service at duplex was spot on, not pushy or annoying but they were there whenever we needed them. I love it when servers just leave you alone, you can tell by observing a table from a distance if they need anything. If they are eating and conversing, they probably don't need anything. If you see empty plates or glasses, head over, it's as simple as that.
We skipped dessert because we were full and we were meeting our friends over at Liquor Lyle's and had to get going. All in all a great meal for a reasonable price. Erin just got another email today with new deals for this weekend (a free glass of wine or beer I think).
- Service: Excellent service, prompt and not annoying.
- Food: The mussels were good, I actually liked the sauce better, and my shrimp spaghetti was great. The bread is also good.
- Drinks: Only a couple taps, but a good selection of bottled beer and wine. No bar as far as I could tell.
- Ambiance: The ambiance was different because it's a converted house, but I like the effect. It does make the tables kind of close together, which I don't really like. I don't want to hear everyone's conversations.
- Price: I think the bill was $55 with tip. It was cheaper because we got a free entree.
- Convenience: Amazingly we got a parking spot on Hennepin right in front of the place. Not usually available though, it IS on a bus line however :)
I have been intrigued by duplex since I first heard about it maybe a year and a half ago. I remember making a reservation and then having to cancel it because something else came up. This must have been how they got my email address, because I now get occasional emails from them with deals. The one I got last week was particularly good - a buy one get one free entree. This to me does not speak well for the restaurant - are they on their way to closing or something? Whatever, we didn't read too much into it and went last Saturday.
I had been to Pandora's Cup, the coffee shop that used to be in this building, quite a few times in high school and early college. They have really made this place a lot nicer as duplex. I don't think they really did much to the layout, but it looks a lot nicer to me for some reason.
The service was very good - our waitress was always there when we needed her. She wasn't overly friendly or helpful but that is fine. We didn't ask too many questions. I loved how our water was refilled all the time. I drink a LOT of water when at restaurants and I hate it when my glass is empty - I'm guessing that someone filled my glass probably 10 times when we were there. They probably hated me.
As for the food, I really enjoyed the mussels. I think that I have had one or two at dinners before (back in the glory days when I got my meals paid for by magazine publishers), but I've never ordered these myself. The sauce was spicy, but surprisingly, I didn't notice it as much as Ben did. The bread was REALLY good - nice and warm with garlic chive butter.
For my main dish I got the house made fettucine with chicken confit, pancetta, shiitake mushrooms, capers, thyme, lemon juice (I copied and pasted that directly from the menu - no way did I remember all of that. I barely know what all of that even means!). It was pretty good, but slightly blah. I could have used some type of actual sauce - there was some I'm sure, but not much.
I also got 2 glasses of wine. After my recent trip to a few wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley, I am clearly a wine expert. One of the glasses I got was red, from Chile that was called carmenere. The other was white, from France. That's all I can remember. Apparently this place is a "wine bar" - I'm not sure how a place earns that title, but the wine list didn't seem that extensive to me.
We both enjoyed duplex - the atmosphere was nice. It wasn't busy at all (hence the free entree offers) so we could just sit there and enjoy our meal.
2516 Hennepin Ave.