Blueberry tart from B'beri Desserts at Le Café
The cafe at Alliance Française is one of the best-kept secrets in town, a peaceful and never-crowded space with a fantastic coffee and pastry stand. At first, the stand was operated by Honey & Rye, but that bakery and its legendary morning buns moved out this summer.
Earlier this month, Le Café got a new tenant: B'beri Desserts, from Cameroonian husband-and-wife team Fritz and Diane Ebanda. The Ebandas started B'beri Desserts just as the pandemic was ramping up, and they found their footing through individual orders for their impeccable French-style pastries that they'd deliver personally. The business grew and they became favorites at suburban farmers markets, always with a reliable cream puff or a stunning holiday yule log cake. Now, they have a brick-and-mortar among the stacks of French-language library books and a boutique filled with gorgeous goodies for Francophiles.
Only a couple weeks into managing the cafe, B'beri was off to a strong start with swirling, caramel-stuffed croissants, melty croque monsieur, and a selection of stunning tarts. A fellow guest raved about the blueberry tart ($9), which piqued my interest in this light-as-air lavender-colored cream piped over a nutty filling and the most buttery pastry shell. Lovely on all counts. (Sharyn Jackson)
Pozole at Habanero Tacos Grill
As much as "sweater weather" has become a popular meme the minute the first few leaves drop, I find myself roaming the city raving about soup season. It's the time of year when something warming in a deep pot can soothe just about any care or sniffle. While I've got a roster of great recipes up my sleeve, there's nothing like tucking into a deep cauldron of something savory — that someone else made.
The pozole at Habanero Tacos Grill on Snelling Avenue is a full meal with enough left to bring a few extra slurps home.
The new outpost of the Lake Street storefront opened a couple of weeks ago in the former Snap Fitness. The restaurant has installed plenty of booths and a full-service bar with a weekday happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m. In the back, the open kitchen is serving up many of the dishes beloved by fans of the restaurant and food truck: tacos, burritos, enchiladas and more. (The server also gave me the tip that they open at 10 a.m. with breakfast burritos and chilaquiles — important info for nearby Macalester students.) But soup is on the agenda.
I default to the rojo pozole ($13.50), with deep, toasty red chili flavors and massive hominy nuggets that bob like balloons through the bowl. At the bottom, huge hunks of tender, braised meat await. A platter of tostadas, limes, chili and salsa comes as accompaniments for a choose-your-own-adventure flavor combo. Served steamy hot, it's so good for soup season. (Joy Summers)
80 Snelling Av. N., St. Paul, habanerotacosgrill.com
Afternoon tea at the Lynhall
It's not often the word "delightful" figures into a conversation about food. But it's the perfect descriptor for afternoon tea at the Lynhall in Edina. The bright dining room was bustling with groups of friends, mothers and daughters, and a birthday party for one very lucky girl.
If you're thinking "afternoon tea" means "light bites," you're at the wrong tea. Here, the three-course spread — pastry, savory and dessert — is filled with details, delicateness and creativity. We started with a pair of textbook scones (basil-sun-dried tomato and lemon-poppyseed) accompanied by clotted cream and housemade jam. A second course brought a ricotta-corn blini, a stunning (and so tiny!) spiral zucchini tart and a pair of petite but hearty sandwiches. Save room for dessert: the Pavlova was beautiful and irresistible, and the rest — raspberry frangipanes, profiteroles and chocolate mousse trifle — had to be boxed and enjoyed later. We were full.
Tea is not an afterthought, with more than a dozen loose-leaf varieties available, from orange cream oolong to the "Eastenders"-inspired Albert Square black tea. Wine or bubbles are optional add-ons. The service and setup made an ordinary, gray Saturday feel like a special occasion. It really was delightful. (Nicole Hvidsten)
Afternoon teas are Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. Cost is $55 adults, $35 for kids 10 and under; holiday teas are $65 and $40. 3945 Market St., Edina, thelynhall.com
Veggie burger at Zhora Darling
Red Stag Supperclub was one of the first restaurants I set foot in when I arrived in Minneapolis more than a decade ago. Its big curved bar holds fond memories, as I know it does for a lot of people. Fortunately, the bar is exactly where it always was now that the place has become Zhora Darling — even if the rest of the space got an extreme makeover involving neon lights, partitions and pool tables.
I haven't yet experienced all that Zhora Darling is or will be (a music venue, a place for late-night bites), being that I stopped in during daylight hours on a quiet Monday. But I did take a seat at that familiar bar and order a couple of burgers.
The menu at Zhora Darling is designed by a Brooklyn, N.Y., Australian restaurant called Five Leaves. Since opening a few weeks ago, Zhora Darling has expanded the menu, now with a half-dozen mains, some creative small plates, and a substantial brunch.
The signature Five Leaves burger — a thick, medium-rare patty — is topped with the curious combination of a sunnyside-up egg, a half-moon of a pickled beet and a paper-thin slice of pineapple that's been stained pink from said beet. It's $20 with fries or salad, but if you don't want those toppings, a regular old burger is $16.
Don't ask me how, but it works, even for this avowed avoider of beets. Still, I preferred the veggie burger ($17), a texturally satisfying housemade patty formed from barley, mushrooms and black beans. (Bold menu move, being next door to the Herbivorous Butcher.) Crumbles of feta, a tangle of pickled sweet peppers and a swipe of tomato chutney gave it some zing. Props for the very nice side salad, too.
Anyone who wants to try that Five Leaves preparation, with the egg, pineapple and beet can add those toppings to the Veggie Burger for another $4. And why not? It's time to make some new memories. (S.J.)
509 1st Av. NE., Mpls., zhoradarling.com
Pumpkin cheesecake at Yum
From the looks of the crowd on a recent rainy weekday, Woodbury is psyched to have a Yum to call its own. The newest outpost of the all-day bakery and cafe just opened in a prime strip mall location, where one can gaze across the parking lot at Punch Pizza and take a post-meal meander through Patina.
The plan was to dip in for a bowl of matzo ball soup before running errands, but I ended up at a table for one with a small pie before me, contemplating the technicalities of what "single serving" really means. Clearly, this small pumpkin cheesecake ($6.95) wasn't meant for two people — despite my angelic intentions to save a second round for "later."
The small tin contains all the intoxicating wonders that make pumpkin spice a mandatory seasoning: warm cinnamon, snappy nutmeg and just a dash of clove. Creamy pumpkin mingles with tangy cheesecake in a graham-cracker crust that has just enough salty butter to balance the twirl of real whipped cream on top.
While academics might insist that pumpkin is a fruit and that there was plenty of pie for two, I'm going to cling to my misguided beliefs that I just had the best single-serving vegetable lunch on the menu. (J.S.)
8340 City Centre Dr., Woodbury, yumkitchen.com