12 November 2006

Cue at the Guthrie – Take 2

In my October 18 post, I mentioned an experience at Cue at the Guthrie. While three of us at dinner that night enjoyed our meals, we all agreed that the service was mediocre at best, and one of our group was very dissatisfied with his meal.

I went back to Cue later in October, this time for lunch. My brother and I try to have lunch together in between his birthday (mid October) and mine (late November). I suggested that we give it a try, and he was game.

The modern, stylish décor of the restaurant works as well during the day as it does at night. At night, the lighting is all cool and dramatic. During the day, the floor-to-ceiling windows flood the dining room with light and reveal attractive views of the Mississippi river and the hip new development along the river.

This was a birthday lunch, so we started with a glass of wine. We chose a Barbera d’Alba by Pio Cesare. We both started with the puréed white lentil soup with olive oil-baked croutons
and heirloom tomato coulis. I like lentils and lentil soup, and this was very satisfying. The tomato coulis was very flavorful, but the small dollop in my bowl of soup was not sufficient for the size of the bowl they served.

My brother had filet of big eye tuna on grilled whole wheat bread with leaf lettuce,
grilled onion and peppercorn tartar sauce. It was a very attractive sandwich. The tuna slices were about a half inch thick – easy to overcook. But this was nicely seared and medium rare in the middle.

I ordered the wild mushroom risotto with pecorino cheese, crisp leeks and parmesan broth. The flavors were very good. The mushrooms had an earthy flavor and scent that combined well with the cheese. The leeks were a nice touch and lent a textural contrast to the rice and mushrooms. The parmesan broth added moistness to the dish, but not so much that it became soupy.

I liked it a lot, but I think my brother’s sandwich looked better. My wife always says that she likes the risotto I make so well that she never orders it at a restaurant. But I like to order risotto at restaurants to try different flavors and combinations of ingredients. In this case, however, I agree with her. I’ve made risotto with mushrooms and liked it better than what was served a Cue.

Which is not to say that I was disappointed. Overall, I thought the food was very good and a reasonably good value. (You don’t go to Cue for a bargain meal. But the prices were acceptable for a celebration lunch.)

Service, which was mediocre for our dinner foursome, was outstanding at our birthday lunch. Our server was attentive and prompt. She checked in with us regularly, made suggestions but never was pushy. And she graciously took our photo to preserve the moment.

In my October 18 post, I said that I wanted to like Cue. I’m happy to say that it redeemed its ‘miscue’ from our earlier dinner. I’m ready to recommend it and look forward to another meal there soon.

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