Forepaugh’s, in an 1870 mansion in St. Paul’s Irvine Park, has undergone a sumptuous renovation under new owner Bruce Taher
Steve Rice, Star Tribune
La Luz Cafe in Apple Valley serves a Cuban-style pressed sandwich called the Cubano Poblano with pork, ham, pickled pepper, Swiss cheese and mustard, with chips and salsa on the side. The smoothie has mangoes and strawberries.
Steve Rice, Star Tribune
The staff at restaurant Max trained with invited guests before the next day’s opening.
Steve Rice, Star Tribune
Forepaugh's, 276 S. Exchange St., St. Paul, 651-224-5606. Open 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Weekday lunch service (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) begins Aug. 27.
La Luz Cafe, 15322 Galaxie Av., Apple Valley, 952-432-1088, laluzcafe.com. Open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to midnight Friday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Brunch served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
restaurant Max, 215 S. 4th St., Minneapolis, 612-340-2000, therestaurantmax.com. Lunch served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily; dinner served 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; bar menu served 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
A Forepaugh's that refreshes
- August 13, 2008 - 2:34 PM
That's because new owner Bruce Taher is the Taher in Taher Inc., the food-service management company that feeds schools, colleges, senior residences and corporations. The company jumped into the restaurant business in a big way during the past year, launching the Wayzata Eatery, the Alaska Eatery and Glacier Bar and the Nordeast Eatery.
And now Forepaugh's. Taher has given Joseph Forepaugh's ornate 1870 mansion what appears to be a spare-no-expenses once-over, its three floors of intimately scaled bars, lounges and dining rooms recast in romantic golds and reds and appointed with comfort-minded furniture. The basement boasts a wine storage area that doubles as a private dining room, and a second-story patio is downright magical, with downtown's towers poking over the treetops and the splashy sounds of Irvine Park's fountain wandering up the hill. Another charming draw: Our server told us that Molly, the house's resident ghost and a former Forepaugh family servant, continues to haunt the Victorian manor.
Chef Donald Gonzalez, a Chambers Kitchen alum, manages to cover a lot of bases in his somewhat brief menu. Starters ($8 to $14) include battered-and-fried halibut, artichokes, plantains, eggplant and mushrooms finished in a lemon aioli; a smooth grilled corn soup and a bright cherry tomato soup; a stylish version of poutine, the French Canadian fries-cheese- curds-gravy delicacy, and heirloom tomatoes artfully matched with mozzarella and a pungent olive tapenade.
Entrees ($21 to $38) feature a rack of lamb with polenta, beef Wellington and a trio of beautifully presented seafood dishes: slow-roasted salmon, succulent striped bass in a vibrant basil-garlic broth and moist halibut dressed in a mellow coconut curry. Pastry chef Carrie Summer's ingenious sweets ($8) include a deconstructivist riff on banana cream pie, an elegant and summery fruit soup and two luxurious variations on the chocolate theme. The too-short wine list could use some fleshing out, with 14 mostly-California choices, all sold by the glass (average price $12) and/or the bottle.A Cuban standout among suburban fast-food franchises
Asandwich shop in the suburbs usually defaults to Subway, Jimmy John's, Potbelly or Panera Bread. But not in Apple Valley, where Jim and Barb Althoff recently opened La Luz Cafe, where the house specialty is Cuban-inspired pressed sandwiches.
Jim is doing the cooking. He's a Minnesota native who spent a lot of time in south Florida, where he picked up an appreciation for Cuban flavors. Combine that with stints as a bartender, a cook and a restaurant general manager -- and a desire to get out of the real estate business -- and a new career materialized. "It got to where we'd drive past a 'For Rent' sign and we'd look at each other and say, 'sandwich shop,'" he said. "Finally we just decided to do it."
Their cheery, counter-service cafe is a refreshing change of pace from the fast-food nightmare that is Apple Valley's Cedar Av./County Rd. 42 intersection (with one similarity: value. Top price is $7.49, with most under $6). There's pork shoulder, roasted low and slow in lime, cayenne pepper and cider vinegar and paired with house-picked poblano peppers, smoked ham and mustard. Citrus-marinated steak goes great with fresh guacamole. Roasted vegetables are glazed in a chile-cumin-lime-olive oil emulsion, and a mozzarella-tomato salad is drizzled with that same robust chile oil. Salsas, a half-dozen varieties, are made from scratch, and breads approximate the real deal.
Pleasant flavors, but not "so spicy that it scares away the Norwegians," Jim said with a laugh. "My wife calls it 'Cuban con-fusion.' I didn't go to culinary school, so I'm not following any set rules. If it tastes good, I go with it."From deposits and withdrawals to lobster
Here's the difference between the Westin and Doubletree hotel brands. When the former converted an iconic downtown Minneapolis banking lobby (Farmers and Mechanics Bank's 1940 Art Moderne eye-popper) into a restaurant, the results seamlessly respect the past and appeal to the present. If only the same could be said for the latter, restaurant Max at the new Hotel Minneapolis, where Linda Snyder Associates, a Los Angeles design firm, seems eager to downplay the enviably classic attributes of the 103-year-old Midland Bank.
Just one example: "Were they going for rose-colored lilypads?" was my friend's reaction to the ungainly red glass petals that radiate away from the Midland's imperious Carrera marble columns. "They remind me of that alien doohickey in the Tom Cruise version of 'War of the Worlds,'" said another. My mind was going to Meryl Streep's character in "Out of Africa," the moment when she is called out on her unusual bridal hat. "It's meant to be stunning," she says with a self-deprecating smile.
The restaurant is operated by Morrissey Hospitality, the force behind the St. Paul Grill, Pazzaluna and Tria. As with most hotel ventures, chef Matthew Holmes' dinner menu covers a lot of ground. Graze-friendly starters ($4 to $16) include mushrooms baked in puff pastry, plentifully topped flatbreads, pan-fried lemon-ricotta dumplings, saffron-scented mussel bisque, ham-and-cheese croquettes and a fig-pear-goat cheese combo on arugula.
Sixteen entrees (average price: $30) feature many boilerplate proteins -- duck, pork, lobster, lamb, beef, chicken, salmon -- presented in ambitious ways. At lunch, Holmes prunes his dinner roster and adds a dozen elaborate sandwiches ($8 to $12).
Flavor-infused vodkas are the bar's specialty, and two dozen wines (stored in the former bank vault) are sold in four volumes, from a short tasting pour to the bottle. Desserts are dominated by nine quick tastes ($2.50) delicately spooned into juice-size glasses. It's a great idea, although I've seen it somewhere before. Oh, yeah -- at the Westin.
Rick Nelson • 612-673-4757
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