Category Archives: MPLS

Tilia

This is, without a doubt, our favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities.

We first went to Tilia last summer and immediately fell in love with the food, the ambiance, and the neighborhood. Located in charming Linden Hills, close to both Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, the restaurant itself is completely unassuming: no huge sign or placard, just the name on the front window. Steven Brown, the head chef and owner, welcomes guests in to his small yet wonderfully homey restaurant with food that’s exciting, fresh, and (really) affordable.

We are so excited to see how well Tilia is being received, not only because we love it so much, but because it makes great food accessible to all ages.  Recently named Minnesota Monthly’s Best New Restaurant for 2011, Tilia has also been topping other Best of Twin Cities lists since it opened last spring.

Not once have we been disappointed with our meal. Tilia’s menu offers everything from soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and larger appetizer plates to share. There are also some great side options – we even learned to LOVE brussel sprouts after trying Tilia’s version…and who wouldn’t: they’re caramelized and sauteed with walnuts and ham! The bar is well stocked (plenty of different tap beers to try), and there’s also a lovely brunch offered on weekends.

Our most recent visit was on a bright and frigid afternoon, a typical cold winter day in Minnesota. The restaurant was ready for Christmas, both inside and out. It was busy; there was an energetic buzz in the air as everyone was enjoying their lunch. We sat at the counter where we were able to enjoy watching the chefs create and plate all the dishes. We started our lunch by sharing a crispy smoked pork belly with lentils, which we quickly devoured; it reminded us of a favorite dish from our trip to The Publican in Chicago.

I ordered a tagliatelle pasta (they offer small portions for their pasta dishes, something I wish more restaurants would do) with smoked cauliflower, braised greens, and bagna cauda, finished off with (lots) of Parmesan. It was delicious. Andrew, of course, ordered his favorite: the BLT dogs. He swears this is the best hot dog you can order in the entire state of Minnesota…considering you get two hot dogs topped with bacon, tomatoes, dill pickled cauliflower, mayo, and mustard, I tend to agree!

Tagliatelle

Andrew's BLT Dogs

Tilia is truly a Minneapolis gem. Warm, inviting, and inventive, it’s definitely a place to go back to again and again.

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Gone too Long…

Well, this post has been a long time coming. Honestly, it has nothing to do with our lackadaisical approach to cooking or the fact that we haven’t been to any new restaurants recently; neither are true. In the last week alone we’ve recreated Willie Mae’s famous deep-fried chicken recipe, made home-made hot sauce, braised fennel, and created an entire bunch of dishes that were worthy of at least a few minutes of our writing.

But beyond anything we made this last week, we had quite possibly the most FUN meal we’ve had at least since our first to Piccolo and possibly exceeding it. Travail in Robbinsdale has recently been named to Bon Appetite’s “Top 10 Best New Restaurants in the Country,” and in all fairness I wouldn’t have pushed to go to this restaurant without such a strong recommendation from a noted publication. For God’s sake, my dad read that magazine when I was kid! How could I not at least heed some attention to them?

Regardless of how we found out about Travail, the fact remains: if you haven’t been there, you need to be. Furthermore, if your idea of a good meal is going to Applebee’s and getting their “spinach artichoke dip” is your definition of a small-plate, then you probably won’t be too interested in what Travail has to offer. If, however, your idea of a great meal is 10 courses, punctuated with FREE amuse-bouche, then you need to go to Robbinsdale and park in front of the TCF Bank or in the McDonald’s lot and walk up to what is arguably the most enjoyable food experience in Minnesota.

I have had better meals,I have had more romantic meals, I have had meals of equal length with better taste. But nowhere in this state have I had a meal with such a strong ability to create a myriad of delicious, exciting dishes.

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Lucky me.

I’m a pretty lucky girl.

Take a look at our morning yesterday. It was a beautiful Saturday, and after watching our Chelsea FC win 4-1 (we are a very BLUE house…see below), we decided to take advantage of the first fall weekend in the cities.

We rode our bikes across the river to the Mill City Farmer’s Market.  Located between the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater, this market is my favorite in the Twin Cities.  We bought garlic and a baguette, then walked down by the Mississippi and crossed the river to East Hennepin and had a great lunch at Pizza Nea.  It couldn’t have been a better morning!

We’re so lucky to live in a neighborhood that has so much to offer – I love Northeast!

Another reason I feel so fortunate, especially lately, is that I have my own master chef at home. I’ve always loved to cook, but with school being as busy as it is (those who told me that third year of law school isn’t so bad should have their heads examined), Andrew has taken over the kitchen.  He has seriously become one of the best cooks I know.  Over the last week, here are just some of the dishes I’ve been able to enjoy:

          


    

Right now, we’ve got the Packers game on (ok, so we’re a bluegreen house) and chicken braising in home-made tomatillo salsa.  Really a great end to a great weekend.

See?  Told you I’m lucky! 

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