Big changes at the Mall of America amusement park formerly known as Camp Snoopy: It's now Nickelodeon Universe, and while I can't comment on the updates to its rides and other attractions, I can give an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the food. The park's swell new food court is called Eats, and it's run by Levy Restaurants, a Chicago-based food service organization that caters to sports fans (Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Staples Center in Los Angeles) and foodies (Chicago's top-rated Spiaggia).
Sunny, spotless and stroller-friendly, the counter-service layout features a pleasant quick-service menu that's geared to kids and grown-ups. For the latter, there's shaved garlic-scented pork loin stacked high on a ciabatta roll and served with sweet potato chips, a juicy rotisserie chicken with crunchy cole slaw, abundantly topped flatbread pizzas, a small variety of pastas and fresh made-to-order salads, including a winning toss of fresh field greens, chicken, avocado, bacon and a splash of tequila-lime vinaigrette; most prices fall under $10, and portions are generous. Kids can choose from mini burgers and hot dogs, mac-and-cheese and a little tray of veggies, fruit and cheese, most in the $5-and-under range.
The only nit? Beverage prices so silly you'll think you're in a movie theater (a 20-ounce bottled water runs $3.25).Last-minute plans
Dinner tonight? Consider a four-course dinner at Vincent (1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, www.vincentarestaurant.com) being prepared by chef/owner Vincent Francoual and guest co-chef, the talented Justin Schoville of Söntés in Rochester. Reservations $60, call 612-630-1189.
Or take part in Dining Out for Life. Have a meal -- breakfast, lunch or dinner -- in one of more than 100 restaurants, and a portion of the tab (usually between a fifth and a third, but up to 100 percent of the check) will be donated to the Aliveness Project, a Minneapolis community service center for people living with HIV/AIDS. For a list of participating restaurants, go to www.aliveness.org.Around town
Blaine's latest is T-Asia Bar & Restaurant (10340 Baltimore St. NE., 763-230-7460, www.tasiamn.com), which features an Indonesian-Thai-Japanese-Korean fusion -- with a few American accents -- menu and a full bar, serving weekday lunch and daily dinner in a contemporary setting.
Even an attention-grabbing stunt such as naked sushi couldn't keep Temple from closing its doors. "After a very difficult reckoning, I have decided that it's time to pull back and focus on the continuing success of my flagship, Azia Restaurant, and my original little baby, Thanh Do," said owner Thom Pham in an e-mail memo. Pham opened the ambitious downtown Minneapolis operation in December 2006.