Thursday, June 16, 2005

Zelo and Beyond...

I accidentally stumbled into a world where people make way more money than. Well, acutally, it was Tuesday night and most people were there at my suggestion. But therein lies my genius. There were a few people from my place of employement that agreed an early in the week happy hour might just be in order. We traipsed over to Zelo.
The weather was threatening and since I had suffered through a meal under the new canopy at the Uptown during a severe weather storm the night before, I opted for the indoor seating. We had a lovely time in there, although the rounded booth that seemed to be designed for four people on the inside and one person sitting opposite. Our opposing coworker said it made her feel clausterphobic. It made me feel like we were sitting for some kind of test. I was happy to see Bonny Doon's Syrah on the menu. I love this wine. The manical jester on the front of the bottle might have something to do with that. It was one of the more reasonably priced glasses of wine at a measley $8. Unfortunately, the bottle was off. I don't know if it was a vintage or a storage or what kind of problem, but each sip made my jaw muscles clench. Don't worry, though. I perserveared.
For appetizers we ordered their Ahi Tuna Springrolls, seared Ahi appetizer and a magahrita pizza. The tuna was fantastic. The seared Ahi was cooked to pinkie perfection and disinigrated on the tounge. The seasme sauce was the perfect smokey and sweet combination. Seasame oil can really be overpowering, but this wasn't. I could write a sonnet about the springrolls. I'll try to restrain myself, considering how annoying I usually find rhyming couplets. They were composed of cripsy fried springroll wrappers cuddling soft, thin noodles and rare, meaty tuna. The two springrolls are laid out on a plate drizzled with the same seasame sauce a a thin wisp of wasabi sauce. I'm not always a fan of wasabi. As much as I like my spicy things, the over all taste can be a bit much for me, but this was an ideal balance. It was feng shui on a plate! In the center are little rosey slivers of pickled ginger. I could eat about a dozen, but they only give you two for $12. At this point in the evening I still wasn't certain how much I would be held responsible for the entire affair so I restrained myself.
The pizza? Yeeeaaaah... Um, not so great. Not awful, but defintely borderline half assed (see My Favorite Rant for reference.)
There was another bottle of wine, and unfortunate incident where I doused myself with the last of the glass of the Bonny Doon. Somewhere in there is where happy hour turned into hourS.
Somehow, I was convinced to go over to Cosmos, a place I never would normally consider a great happy hour spot. Well, happy hour was long gone, so that might be an unfair assessment. Upon entering the lobbly, past the 6 door people I thought, this place is not for me. Especially, not when my jacket is now sporting a Mikael Gorbachav like stain on the arm.
When I went to order my favorite rum I found they didn't carry it! The most expensive hotel in downtown Minneapolis doesn't have anything except the 12 varieties, or however many there are now, of stinking Bicardi that every other damn bar has. What's up with that? The nicest Scotch I saw was Glenlievet. What kind of scam are they trying to run over there?
After trying to explain to my not fully English speaking server that Bicardi rum is tripe, someone appeared over my shoulder crading a bottle of foreign rum. I'm not going to pretend that I even remember what it was called. My boy servant (seriously, I think he was 12) couldn't even tell me what country it was from. With great flourish they removed the cap and poured me a low ball on the rocks. It was.. divine! I'm an official rum snob now, in addition to all of the other things I hold lofty opinions about. And I think I shared this with the brave few that were continuing through these happy hours with me. The problem is that this is where the memory gets a little fuzzy. The rum, which I found out costs $25 a shot, was smokey and sugar cane-y, somewhere between a fine liquer and a well aged Scotch. I tried to share it, but I think I scared them.
Around the bottom the second glass is when I really decided that this place isn't so hot. I mean, what's the big deal with all the high prices and the attitude. Do you really think you're better than me? Hunh!? Do ya!? Whatever.
I pocketed some of the Hermes soap from the bathroom and decided it was time to get a cab.

Cafe Barbette

I am lookin' smart today. Sportin' a brand new beaming sunburn right on the top of my forehead. But that's okay, it was worth it. Sunday morning I hiked up to my favorite breakfast spot, Cafe Barbette. One of my favorite things about the place is the lack of lines whenever I go there. (Try that at the nearby Uptown with the 45 minute wait; your hangover knocking on the door.) Occassionally, I've gone and had to wait a couple of minutes for a dinner spot, but never for breakfast.
The inside is decorated with a sweet bohemian flare not seen in these parts of Minneapolis since the loss of the Loring. Along the sidewalk in the summer Barbette sets out some cute multi-colored wood tables next to standing flower boxes. The boxes are currently filled with some unfortunate little plastic flowers that apparently cost $1.99 plus tax somewhere. But I forgive them. I forgive the occassional distracted server, too. These people are there as much for their hipster stylings as their ability to walk back and forth from the kitchen. But when it all comes together, the right server, the right specials, the right early morning sunshine, you've got yourself something close to Nirvana, my friend.
My sweetie accompanies me, and he almost always without fail orders the eggs benedict. Depending on whether or not I'm wearing my sassy pants, I might be inclined to razz him about this. In truth, though, I can't blame him. The eggs benny are ALWAYS good. Seriously. I've never had a separated hollindaise or a cold poached egg. The eggs are bought at a local farm as well as the ham and you can taste the difference. This is no Moon Over My Hammy.
I usually try to mix it up a bit; trying different things when I'm there. The special scrambles are wonderful. I think my all time favorite was "French" style scramble with gooey Grueyre cheese, fluer de sel, truffle oil and cream. It was richer than Daddy Warbucks! The waffles and French toast are served with real maple syrup. After years of hauling sap in my youth I can tell the difference between the real stuff and its corn syrup-y cousin at 20 paces. I am a total, unabashed syrup snob and theirs is wonderful. I love the cute little French Toasts made with brioche that aboslutely melt in your mouth.
I haven't braved a Bloody Mary or beer with brunch there yet, but I have tried the Guiness with a shot of espresso in it. What a decadent way to start a day full of nothing but lazing around. A wonderful way to start a Sunday.