Tag Archives: Chicago


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!


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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Well it’s been about a month since either one of us has posted on here. That is our fault and we should make more time for it, but it’s tough when both of us are in graduate school and work. I am nearly done with my thesis (next week!) and the reality of the situation is slowly sinking in, making it harder for me to commit free time to this blog. Natalia is very busy trying to help her clients and it’s difficult too for her to find energy to write. But perhaps some recent news will provide a renewed impetus for writing: WE GOT ENGAGED!!!

That’s right, we took a trip to Chicago and I got a bride, she got a groom. There are no timeframes for the wedding (at least a year away probably), but until then we get time to plan, toast, and cook. It must be said that while we were in Chicago we ate at some of the best restaurants in the country. Our meals at The Purple Pig, The Publican, Cafe Spiaggia, and Q were all beyond anything we could have imagined.

In fact, the meal we had at The Publican preceded our engagement and it provided us the opportunity to have duck hearts. The duck hearts come from Au Bon Canard, a local farm (to Minnesota), and they were single-handedly the greatest dish we’ve had since we ate at Piccolo in June. In June the dish that won our hearts (pun intended) was the Tete de Porc, or pig’s head to the Englishly inclined. It was a beautiful melange of creamy fat and unctuous flavor and truly exceptional. The duck hearts at The Publican were a completely different dish: smooth and buttery, but had a wonderful starchy quality provided by the lentils. The dish was completed was then topped with slices of kumquat which added a wonderful citrusy element to the salt and starch. Natalia was hesitant about this dish, but afterwards was completely blown away by the experience.

I guess there really was no better way to later win her heart by feeding her hearts before hand. Thanks Chicago for the memories, we’ll be back soon!

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