26 August 2006

A Friday lunch at Barbette

It’s been a busy summer. I’ve had some special projects at work, and I haven’t taken much time off to relax and enjoy our all-too-brief Minnesota summer. So on Friday, I took the day off and went with my wife to the Minnesota History Center and then to a mid-afternoon lunch.

When Linda and I are traveling, we love going to the art and history museums in the cities we visit. (We don’t do that often enough in our home city.) And it often works out that if we arrive at the museum at mid-morning, we’re not out of there until well past our ‘non-tourist’ lunch time. On this particular Friday, we left the museum at 1:15 p.m. and drove to one of our favorite Uptown Minneapolis cafes – Barbette. We arrived just a little before 2 p.m.

Barbette is a funky, fun, sort of counter-culture café. There’s a well-stocked bar, and at the end of the bar is a curlicue counter that adds a lot of interest to the interior. There are tables and booths. We sat at a cozy table for two in the middle of the restaurant. Danielle was our efficient and attentive server.

From our past visits, we knew we could count on Barbette to offer some unusual wines, so we took a look at the list. We were rewarded by finding several wines by the glass that looked intriguing. I opted for a French rose. Linda was having trouble deciding between an Argentine Malbec and a Beaujolais. Danielle was very accommodating and offered her a taste of each, even opening a new bottle of the Malbec. In the end, Linda chose the Beaujolais by Louis Tete. Regrettably, Barbette doesn’t post its wine list on line, and I couldn’t remember the rose I had. Both of our wines were just right for a late August afternoon – very flavorful, but not too heavy or intense.

The lunch special was sea scallops with gnocchi, arugula, scallions, and parmesan cheese. Normally, we like to order different entrees and share. But the special looked too good to pass up, so that’s what we both ordered. The scallops were cooked just right – not too rare for Linda, but not at all tough or rubbery. The gnocchi were light like little potato pillows. There was a yummy tomato paprika sauce that had a nice smoky flavor. I thought it was smoked paprika, but Danielle said she thought it was from roasting the tomatoes.

It happens that Barbette honors the Minnesota Public Radio membership card with a two-for-one deal. So we got out of there for a very reasonable price. The lunch specials were $13 and the wine was $7/glass.

Barbette also is fun for dinner. A pot of steamed mussels makes a great starter for a meal with a few friends. We discovered our favorite Spanish wine at Barbette. All in all, it’s a great little place that serves good food and interesting wine. I recommend it.

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