Monday, January 9, 2012

La Chaya Bistro

Visited on Saturday, December 31st with Nate & Molly

Outside La Chaya Bistro

Erin's Review
Because Ben's parents had asked to take all the grandkids each New Year's Eve, we figured we were pretty much obligated to find SOMETHING to do. 98% of our friends are either pregnant and/or have small children, so the pickings were slim. We have both been burned by special "holiday" menus at restaurants before that are mostly a waste of money and not very good, so I set out to find a place on our list that was just serving their normal menu and either did not take reservations at all, or still had openings. Ben apparently did not know this, after reading his review, but I purposely picked places further away in Minneapolis since I knew we'd have freedom from rush hour and the toddler.

After driving through what was a rainstorm at the time, we got there right on time - all the spots in the parking lot were filled, but we found one on the street very close. The restaurant was completely full when we got there, so I guess it was a good thing we made reservations. I didn't think it would be that full since there were still several openings when I'd checked about a week previously.

Inside La Chaya Bistro

After the men ordered their beers, we decided on a few appetizers. Molly picked something with mushrooms, and we also got calamari. I normally am not a fan of mushrooms, but I actually really liked the appetizer. I guess they are "oyster mushrooms, sauteed in garlic and chili served with grilled bread", according to the menu - I liked that they weren't HUGE chunks of mushrooms, and they were grilled such that the mushrooms had a nice texture to them. I also liked the calamari - the tomato sauce they came with was a nice change, and they weren't overly breaded or too chewy at all.


For my entree, I chose to get the pasta special, which was their standard seafood pasta with lobster. It was served in a white wine sauce with spinach and tomatoes. I liked how light this dish was - I didn't feel disgustingly full when done with it, and the sauce was very flavorful but didn't overwhelm the lobster. I did have enough leftover for a small lunch, and it reheated well.

Lobster pasta in a white wine sauce

I purposely saved room for dessert, but wasn't too thrilled with the options. I went with a key lime pie, but it was a bit TOO tart for my liking. I honestly don't even think I finished the whole thing. Molly got the apple crisp and that seemed like a much better option. I also got a decaf Mexican mocha which was quite good, but not sweet enough for me - adding a few sugars made it perfect. I guess my sweet tooth has gotten a bit out of control lately :)

Mexican Mocha

Key Lime Coconut Torte

La Chaya Bistro was a great pick for this evening - I'm glad we finally tried it, as the food was delicious. The ambiance is a bit generic, but the food makes up for it. It was a fun night out actually enjoying some leisurely kid free conversation with Nate & Molly for once!

Ben's Review
My parents want to start a tradition of taking all the grandkids on New Years Eve, a total of three kids this year. We took advantage of the night off and went to La Chaya Bistro in south Minneapolis with our neighbors.

Randomly, we ended up just a few blocks from our last review spot, Sunstreet Breads, which is odd for us since I feel like we don’t make it over to south Minneapolis that often. We had reservations for 7pm and arrived right on time. Nate and Molly had gotten there a few minutes earlier and already were at the table. La Chaya Bistro is a very small restaurant with the tables close together and “cozy”, so we were elbow to elbow with our neighboring tables. Luckily being the table of four, we got to be the “loud” ones and all the couples just had to deal with us :) The place was completely full of NYE diners and everyone seemed to be a in good mood having a great time.


The beer list at La Chaya Bistro is not huge, but they did have Fulton’s IPA in bottles, which I had been wanting to try. Nate got some sort of peppery concoction with Corona and a salted rim that he seemed to like. The wine list looks more promising if wine is your thing.

Spicy beer or something

Ben's beer

We ordered calamari for an appetizer while we enjoyed the company of adults without any children around. Erin remarked afterwards that she had no idea the last time we ate dinner with Nate and Molly without both of our kids around. I bet it’s been well over a year. The calamari was good, being that it’s pretty tough to screw that up. There was also plenty for the four of us.


I was tempted to get the special that night, an eight ounce pork tenderloin with brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes. Nate ended up getting it and let me try a bite and it was fantastic. I ended up ordering the chipotle sea bass with mashed potatoes and spinach.

Our food took awhile to arrive, but we were fine with the wait as nobody was in a rush. When our food came out it was immediately clear that it was all freshly prepared. The food was still steaming and the plates weren’t hot. I feel like a hot plate is a sure sign that it has been sitting under heat lamps for awhile :) My sea bass was one of the best meals I ate all year. It was absolutely delicious. The sea bass came with a sort of oily pesto on top that gave it a fresh flavor in addition to the chipotle, it was amazing.

Chipotle Sea Bass

Not being a dessert fan I deferred to Erin and she got the key lime coconut torte and let me try a bite. It was good, but I was already too full from my sea bass to really care. I say give me a good piece of meat over sweets any day of the week.

If you’re looking for a nice meal out, I highly recommend La Chaya Bistro, it is fantastic and well worth the money.

Service: Excellent service. Our server was knowledgeable about everything and friendly.
Food: Delicious and fresh, you won’t be disappointed.
Drinks: Good wine list, smallish beer list, but they did have Fulton and Summit.
Ambiance: It’s a tight fit, but everyone we encountered was in a good mood, so it was fun.
Convenience: They have a small parking lot and there is ample on-street parking.