28 September 2006

Dinner at Cave Vin, south Minneapolis

My former boss, the one who rented a villa in Eze, France, after he retired, came to town for a meeting. So we decided to get together for dinner. He was staying at an airport hotel, and we didn’t want to go downtown. So my wife and I picked Cave Vin. I’ve provided a link to its web site, but it doesn’t have its menus posted.

Open Table (the online restaurant reservation service) says that Cave Vin is located in the Armitage neighborhood. I didn’t know that was what the neighborhood was called. But it’s a pleasant residential part of town. The restaurant is located in a corner commercial area that includes a laundry and a convenience store.

When my wife and I arrived, Bob was sitting outside enjoying a glass of wine. The restaurant has a few outdoor tables. But there isn’t any particular reason to sit outside except if the weather is particularly nice. Bob said it had a casual, comfortable feel of a French village café.

Bob had ordered a Portuguese wine – Lisa Terras do Sado. I couldn’t locate any online information about the wine or the winery. It had a hint of sweetness. I commented that it tasted like a chenin blanc that we used to drink. (The New York Times wine columnist, Eric Asimov, has written about chenin blanc in a recent post on his blog – The Pour. His blog is worth reading regularly.) By the way, Mondays and Tuesdays are half-price wine nights, so the bottle was a real bargain.

As you can see from the photo, the décor is open and spare. We’ve been there on busy weekends when it can get a little noisy. But it’s a pleasant, comfortable space.

Our waiter left us a basket of bread. It was a nice crusty French bread with a little pot of soft butter. It was very good, but we could have used some more butter.

Linda and I split a salad printemps. It was fine, but nothing out of the ordinary. (Printemps is French for ‘spring’ isn’t it? This salad wasn’t particularly springy.)

Bob ordered steak tartare. He commented that it’s hard enough to get a hamburger served medium rare in America, much less find steak tartare on a menu. He said it was very good, but also very rich. Instead of an entrée, he ordered another starter – fruits de mer. It was a plate of shrimp, crab, and fish fritters. Again, he said it was very tasty but also rich. Served as an appetizer, it would have easily sufficed for three or four people.

I ordered veal scaloppini. It was very tasty, served with a pistachio crust. The trouble is, like trout (see my post on Olives in Washington, DC), the thin slices of veal are difficult to get done just right. Also, since veal is very lean, it can get tough if it’s overdone. This veal was slightly overdone.

My wife’s meal was the best of the evening. She had crab-crusted halibut. The halibut was flakey and moist, and the crab was a perfect complement.

Overall, I think that Cave Vin is a comfortable restaurant that serves consistently good food. It was a good choice for our dinner with Bob.

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