Ave Maria

Once the lines are all painted on the asphalt, however, fans of Maria's Café will have more to rejoice about than perfect pancakes and a yin-yang dish of sweet and bitter flan, for Hoyos says that when the construction ends she will begin to serve dinner Thursday through Saturday nights. Expect Colombian specialties priced at around $11. I've been trying to figure it out, and I think that once Maria's starts serving dinner it will be one of only a few table-service restaurants to do so in the giant swath of Phillips bordered by I-94 on the north, I-35W on the west, Cedar Avenue on the east and the old railroad tracks where the Midtown Greenway is going on the south. What's it been like pioneering in this long-troubled region? Don't get Maria started on the clichés about the neighborhood. "I have been here since last January," she says, "and yes, when I first started coming here I was a little scared. But in nine months nothing bad has happened--no graffiti, no broken windows, nothing. This neighborhood is full of beautiful people. My old customers, they all come to visit me. They come from Rochester, from Minnetonka, from Lino Lakes. They come from the country clubs. They have never been to this neighborhood before, but when they come, they just love it, too."

People from Minnetonka are racing into Phillips for pancakes and loving it? That's good pancakes. Keep an open mind, says Hoyos, keep an open mind. Minnesota is more than snow, Colombia is more than the other snow. "Always there are nice people, and working people, and people who are trying to make the community better." And, always, there are pancakes.

 

TABLEHOPPING:

NOT A BASIL'S REVIEW: Dude, I am sooooo not reviewing Basil's. The degree to which I am not reviewing Basil's is like so out there it can barely be calculated. I mean, I totally thought I was going to review Basil's. My mailbox was all clogged with gunk about how they had a new chef and a new look and were gunning to be taken more seriously. I could see the headline already: "More than the Mary Tyler Moore table!" Then I went there for lunch, and it was awful. Then I went there for lunch again, and it was worse. And then I just decided, for the first time in years, to just pull the plug on the whole endeavor. Were any of you going to go there anyway? If you were, here's a fact: Your bread will come in a plastic, faux terra-cotta plant saucer. (Waiter! Where's my trowel?)

And here are a few opinions: The appetizer of artichoke lemon fritters ($6.95) were greasy balls of deep fried batter, semi-attached to tasteless artichoke bottoms; another appetizer of white truffle ravioli ($8.25) was so freezer-burned that the fillings tasted like truffled ground memo pads. An entrée of polenta-dusted halibut ($16.95) was the best thing; the fish was tender and the smoked-tomato Provençal sauce that surrounded it was merely salty and inoffensive. But it was the lemon linguini ($9.95) that put me off the joint for good. Painfully salty, bright-pink smoked chicken butted heads with an oil slick of air freshener tasting lemon-sauce. Ugh. Normally I go back to a place that I'm going to write a full negative review of four times. But it wasn't merely the thought of two more Basil's meals that changed my mind. No, it was the moment when my server assured me that this lemon linguini was one of the most popular things that Basil's had ever served--so popular, in fact, that it was carried over from the old menu to the new.

Then it hit me like a gut full of oil slick: You don't go to Basil's. I just thought you went to Basil's. I mistook this hotel restaurant in the Marquette, with its prime position overlooking the Crystal Court, for an actual restaurant. But after a closer look I realized that none of my readers could possibly go to Basil's--and certainly not twice. Then I was saved, as the Restaurant Critic Fairy appeared on my shoulder and whispered the all-important third golden rule: Never give a negative review to a restaurant people wouldn't go to anyway. I'm off the hook! Dodged a bullet! Out of the frying pan, out of the fire! No more Basil's meals for me, because I ain't reviewing the place.... (Basil's; 710 Marquette Ave., Minneapolis--overlooking the Crystal Court at the heart of the IDS--612-376-7404.)

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
 
Loading...