On the up side, I liked the Caesar salad ($3.95/$6.95), which was lemony, spare, and honest; the pizzas are very good, wood-roasted, crisp, and simple; and the Planked Cochonnailles--a trio of pâtés served with spicy French gherkins and oil-cured olives--were fine. But I could have, in good conscience, sent back three out of four dishes that arrived from the Mpls. Cafe kitchen. It was hilarious, in its fashion.

It was also really funny when I went to order dessert on another visit and my waitress said, "That's the only good thing here." Then she backpedaled and clarified, saying, "What I mean is, in my opinion, it's my favorite part of the menu." She's right, many of the desserts are spectacular: I loved the crème brûlée ($4.95), which is presented in a glamorous haze of smoke as your server brands the top with a hot iron plate. The Pear Obsession ($5.95), poached pear slices on a layer of flaky almond-laced pastry drizzled with a cinnamon-caramel sauce, is also truly wonderful. And the Crepe à la Gundel ($5.95), a tender crepe filled with warm fresh berries and dressed with two spectacular sauces, a crème anglaise and a Grand Marnier caramel syrup, is absolutely perfect; for everything I didn't like about the Mpls. Cafe I'll be back for this wonder.

Mpls. Cafe also takes the prize for the most artful, ample, and delicious sauce-painting I've ever seen. It also must be said that its wine list is masterful. Champagnes and sparkling wines are nicely represented, and premium bottles can be had at reasonable prices. The rest of the list is global in scope, arranged in an exceedingly user-friendly manner, and considerately showcases many wines in every price range. Mpls. Cafe has only been open for two months, and perhaps the time will come when the food lives up to the strengths of the desserts. Until then it's a fine place for music, late-night gatherings, post-theater, pre-Holidazzle, and the like--as long as you bring your sense of humor.

But wait--I totally forgot to tell you about how the rice in the Moroccan rice salad arrives as a large ice-cold dome surrounded by hot delicate seafood that (predictably) turns icy in a matter of moments. And how there are four televisions showing sports in a place with $175 bottles of champagne on the menu. Oh, and get this: One time, at a neighboring table, a customer spilled a glass of water, and it splashed all over the floor, and no one ever came to wipe it up, leaving patrons to pick their purses up off the floor to avoid the streaming rivulets; and then this one bus-guy actually told a waitress to watch out for the spilled water, because she might slip on it, and so they both avoided the spot for the rest of the night, but never wiped it up. Man, was that funny. Oh, and the time I went by the open kitchen and a chef had this magazine spread out over his cutting board, and this other time...

Oh well. I guess it was just one of those things where you had to be there. But it was really funny.

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