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BEST RESTAURANT FOR APPETIZERS Minneapolis 2003 - Auriga

There are about a million reasons to love Auriga, home of Doug Flicker, one of Minneapolis's most accomplished chefs. But for reasons million-and-one through million-and-eleven or so, consider this: Auriga is truly a standout place to eat light. Did you know that on Sundays to Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. all of Auriga's pizzas are half-price? For around $4.75 you can get something like the recent feature of a cracker-crusted pizza topped with slices of golden turnips, strips of pequillo peppers, chèvre, and dainty fried shallots. (During that time, select beers and glasses of wine are half-price too.) Supping on appetizers in Auriga's dark blue, celestial-seeming bar is a great way to while away a life. Last winter there was one particular night when a little pot of cauliflower and leek gratin was the only thing keeping us from moving to Hawaii. And yet the little plates don't merely stop with the ordinary appetizers. At Auriga lately there's a daily "intermezzo" menu too, for dishes that are a little larger than an appetizer, a little smaller than an entrée, and priced in the lovely $7 to $12 range. And they're every bit as chef-fantastical as Flicker's signature entrées. The intermezzo menu offers things like carnarolli risotto, filled with chunks of smoked chicken, fresh spinach, and pears, and topped with Pecorino cheese, or a Catalan fish stew, sparkling with saffron. Is it any wonder that Kenwood regulars drop by three and four times a week for a meal on the fly?

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