Cheapskate's Highlife

In which breathtaking bargains for the luxe-minded are revealed

Another Spanish red, 2002 Manyana Tempranillo ($5.99), is also incredibly good: Chocolatey, with a soft, plush body embroidering a cherry and tobacco core, the wine is well knit and complex enough to retain your attention while standing up to any number of aged firm cheeses, roast meats, or spicy dishes. It has a long, peppery, tannic finish and it's six bucks--did I mention that it's six bucks? Buy a case of any of these and you get a case discount, making them even, if you can imagine, cheaper: Figure 10 percent off a full case, or 5 percent off a half case, and they'll even let you mix and match a case, filling it with different sort of bottles.

Sadly, man cannot live by fruit and wine alone. Frequently there must also be cannoli. Or at least dinner. Broders' Southside Pasta Bar, no matter how you look at it one of the most enjoyable restaurants in Minneapolis, has been offering an unbelievable bargain for a few months now. Sunday through Thursday, you can go in any time after 8:00 p.m. and have a prix fixe dinner for two consisting of their lovely basket full of focaccia, house-made crackers, and other breads; two salads; a half-carafe of wine (that's half a regular bottle); and two bowls of handmade pasta; all for $20.

Twenty bucks for a dinner that includes the best pasta in Minnesota? That's what I call an economic recovery. When I tried it a few weeks ago, I was very impressed with the dinner: The salad of baby lettuces and chicories was fresh and bold, scattered with good oil-cured black olives, and enhanced with a forthright mint-and-lemon dressing, the composition crowned with strips of lemon zest. The pastas--you get to choose from a varying list of four--were very good; the tagliatelle alla Bolognese consisted of pasta so tender it made you want to cry, covered with a sweet, gentle, creamy meat sauce. The stringozzi alla Spoletina was a feisty little bowl of chewy noodles jazzed up simply with tomatoes and garlic. A perfectly humble meal at a charming price.

Livin' large: Broders' Southside Pasta Bar serves up an upscale mid-week feast for two for an unbelievable $20
Bill Kelley
Livin' large: Broders' Southside Pasta Bar serves up an upscale mid-week feast for two for an unbelievable $20

Location Info

Map

Solo Vino

517 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Category: Retail

Region: St. Paul (Downtown)

Patrick's Bakery & Cafe

6010 Lyndale Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Southwest Minneapolis

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The wine we tried was a young Italian red, and it enhanced my deepening suspicion that I couldn't limit myself to the prix fixe, and must also have cannoli--my date and I shared the plate of two darling little tubes of crisp pastry stuffed with creamy, fresh, sweet ricotta ($5.25), and by the time the wee little check arrived I was already plotting a return visit to try the other pastas (and the pastry that the adjacent table got, a green lidded dome of almond cake and limoncello custard). Honestly, what is more critical to the life of a budget-keeper than fine European desserts? Nothing.

Nothing, I mean, except gilded French pastries consumed among mountains of orchids. I speak, of course, of the Patrick's Bakery outpost deep inside the main Bachman's flagship floral and garden store on West 60th Street and Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis. I went there one recent afternoon and took a plate of miniature pastries ($5.95), served on a real ceramic plate, into the shadow created by a pyramid of orchids that soared toward the sky. I listened to the sound of a tinkling fountain, I sipped my coffee, I smelled the floral air, I tried to think of whether the Patrick's here, deep inside the Bachman's greenhouse, filled with flowers and sunshine-cheerful patio umbrellas, I tried to think of whether stealing an hour at Patrick's was more like being at a wedding or more like being in some patio café in a sunny French town near the Mediterranean. I popped a miniature éclair into my mouth, tasting the fresh, luscious custard inside the eggy, light shell, and I thought, "This is a question that can have no answer, like life, mon dieu! Get me the chocolate mousse!" And then I thought to myself, "Self, you know what? Any crack dealer can hot-glue a Rolex to a beach towel, but it takes a certain flair to live like European nobility while spending with Midwestern frugality."

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