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BEST RESTAURANT--ST. PAUL Minneapolis 2001 - Zander

There's a new chef working behind the lines at Zander, young chef de cuisine Matthew Bickford, and even though we had dubious feelings about that change at first, it seems Zander the café is just as good as ever. Bold, often counterintuitively combined flavors still dominate the menu, but we've been happy to find no chaos evident on the plates, which seem tightly controlled. Recently an appetizer of duck and pork rillettes ($7.50) was appealingly rich and savory, whereas Star Prairie trout stuffed with wild rice and bacon and served on wilted greens in a sesame vinaigrette ($15) was light and forthright. The wine list is still a delight to behold. The things we'd change are still mostly architectural. Really, the only problem we have with Zander at all is the fact that we don't call enough to keep track of the wine dinners--and all the bright chefs de cuisine in the world can't help that.

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