Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Modern Cafe

Visited on Thursday, November 19th with Becca and Joe

Modern Cafe

Ben's Review
We went out with my sister Becca and her husband Joe last Thursday, for no reason other than we hadn't been out to dinner with them for awhile and they are big fans of the Modern Cafe (TMC) in NE Mpls. (They even walked 5 miles from their house one day. With the dogs.)

TMC is located just east of the 331 Club near the intersection of Broadway & University. There is street parking here but with several bars and restaurants in the area it gets full easily. I found a spot a couple blocks down and then, of course, on the walk back I saw a car leave from right in front of the restaurant. Luckily it's not winter yet :)

I found Erin, Becca, and Joe already tucked into one of the "cozy" booths along the side wall. I wedged myself in and quickly looked over the beer list when our server arrived. They have a good, albeit small, beer list (maybe eight bottled beers) but something for everyone. I went with the Dumaine DuPage French style country ale while we looked over the menu. Even though I had looked at the menu online earlier in the day, I still wasn't sure what I was in the mood for. The beet ravioli sounded good, but Becca said the fries were excellent. The butternut hash and chorizo sounded tasty with the chicken breast, but I eventually decided on the lamb burger with tomato chutney, tzatziki, and the fries.

Inside Modern Cafe

We ordered the beets with horseradish cream and dill as an appetizer to share while we waited, which I thought was great. By the time the food came out Joe and I were ready for our next round. They had the Left Hand Milk Stout which I've always been tempted to get at the liquor store but never pulled the trigger on, so I figured this was as good a time as any to try it out, especially since the server recommended it with the lamb burger specifically.



The burger was pretty good, though with the spicy chutney and the tzatziki I couldn't really discern that it was lamb as opposed to ground beef. I probably should have gotten it medium rare instead of medium, but it still tasted good, the chutney and tzatziki were fantastic. For my fries I had asked for a side of the garlic mayo which was really good, but it was a bit much for me so I switched to ketchup halfway through. The milk stout did go well with the burger, though I was expecting a creamier beer ("milk stout" has certain connotations for me I guess).

Lamb Burger

I tried some of Joe's pot roast and the meat was exceptionally tender and fell apart just as you would expect. Becca got the mussel stew (which came with fries? seems odd) and while I didn't try any she said it was good and took the leftovers home for lunch. Erin purposely saved room for dessert and let me have a bite of her red velvet cake, which was awesome, as are most red velvet cakes that I've had. It was a great meal and I'm glad that we finally made it to TMC, great experience all around.
  • Service: Our server was great, he was knowledgeable about the menu and showed up at the perfect times.
  • Food: Excellent food. The menu is a bit small but they execute it very well.
  • Drinks: Reasonable bottled beer list and a larger wine list, everyone can find something they like.
  • Ambiance: TMC is a relatively small place that almost feels like a diner in spite of the better-than-diner food and service. On the Thursday night that we were there it wasn't very busy at all.
  • Price: The prices are right where I would expect them (maybe even a little lower) for the quality of food. Entrees in the $12-$16 range and the small plates from $3-$6.
  • Convenience: Parking is generally not a big deal in this area, even if you are a couple blocks away. The neighborhoods are quiet and friendly so I don't mind walking through them a bit.
Erin's Review
Well, I guess this is a sign of things to come - we have definitely been slacking on going out to new places lately! What can I say, life has definitely gotten busy lately, but hopefully we can pick up the pace a bit so we have some reviews to post when we are cooped up at home with a newborn in a few months :) Perhaps we'll be reviewing a lot of takeout places...

Anyway, we had plans for awhile to go out with Becca and Joe, and they LOVE the Modern Cafe in Northeast. I actually had been here once before, for brunch back in May, but hadn't been here with Ben to review yet. When we got there at 6:30, it was pretty empty for a Thursday night - maybe everyone is going to the newer hot spots nearby... who knows? The booths are a BIT of a tight squeeze for 4, but not too bad. Pretty sure in a month I won't even fit in there, so I should just enjoy it while I can.

I had perused their very small menu online earlier, and was feeling like having something smaller for dinner so I could feel okay about eating dessert. First things first, I made sure to ask our server what the desserts were so I knew if it was worth it - pots de creme and red velvet cake - sounded great to me! I chose a cup of the "delicious soup" - black bean that evening, and the mixed greens salad.


Bread came out fairly quickly and it was pretty good, although not warm. My soup came out first and I enjoyed it - it was thick and flavorful but not too filling, which was perfect. The salad was pretty blah - just a pile of greens (obviously) but it made me feel better that I got my veggies :)


Black Bean Soup

Greens Salad

Now, on to the most important part - dessert! I ordered the red velvet cake, and Becca got the pots de creme. The cake came with vanilla bean ice cream and was very good - just a simple cake, but it was prepared well - the cake was fluffy and not dry at all. I really liked how it was just a single layer for some reason. The frosting was a variation of cream cheese frosting with some other flavor, maybe maple? As with most cream cheese frostings - wonderful! I loved the addition of the ice cream too. Becca's pots de creme was a delight - I loved the peanut brittle topping especially.

Red Velvet

Pots de Creme

Overall, our experience at Modern was pleasant. Not the most exciting dining experience I've ever had, but the food is delicious, the service is good (could speed up the water refills, but barely anyone can keep up with me on that), and the decor is homey and warm. I'd definitely go back.

Modern Cafe

The Modern Cafe
337 13th Ave NE