Brunch at the Top of the City

The Sample Circuit event at Windows on Minnesota this past Sunday was a swell opportunity to mix food, people watching and a 50th-story perspective on the Twin Cities.

Five observations...

1. The view from the top of the IDS tower is worth the ear-popping elevator ride to the 50th floor. Seeing much of Minneapolis and some of St. Paul stretched out before you is awe-inspiring, but the most transfixing aspect of the view is a little more specific: When else do you get a chance to see the Foshay Tower from above? Whether it's worth the $26.95 that Windows generally charges for Sunday brunch is a question that each of us have to answer for ourselves.

Brunch at the Top of the City

2. The good: a prosciutto and cheddar biscuit that was soft, buttery and difficult to not gobble down in one ravenous bite. A shot glass filled with fruit reduction-topped panna cotta. A teeny-tiny mini-salad of olive oil, parmesan and beef carpaccio.

3. The not as good: braised rabbit. Nothing personal against the rabbit, but it was, even at 1pm, too early in the morning for that kind of thing. Low grade brie. Very small cream puffs that were disposably soft and flavorless (filling and shell), and thus almost certainly not made from a good pate a choux*.

4. The gorgeous: Some of the ladies (and objectively speaking, some of the dudes) in attendance. Not exactly a funkadelic multi-ethnic jamboree, but attractive, well-dressed and well-spoken, the lot of them.

5. The Bloody Mary bar had pickled green beans, pickled mushrooms, pickled ... peppers? Asparagus? Everything, in fact, except for celery, although it may have been hidden somewhere amid the forest of other greenery lined up behind the Ketel One bottles.


* "Where does this blowhard get off," you might very well ask, "criticizing the pastry used for the cream puffs he was hoovering down at 1:30pm on a Sunday, on the 50th floor of a downtown office building?" That's a fair question.

Let's say — speaking theoretically, here — that as a kid, you used to spend a week every summer up in Door County, Wisconsin at a family get-away on the lake side of the peninsula. Back in the '80s, it was nothing fancy — a sandy, scruffy little cottage that barely had electricity. Once or twice a trip, you'd go to the Lodge for dinner, which was a pretty big deal .

For dessert: Cream puffs stuffed with ice cream. You'd get 'em once a year, and they were one of the best things about the whole trip. It wasn't just the ice cream and chocolate; those were nice, sure, but the big deal was the puff itself. It had an almost double-layered aspect to it, a crispy exterior and a chewy, puffed out interior that was a texture unlike anything else you'd experienced. The contrast between the cold, smooth ice cream and the yielding but slightly tough bubble-puffed cooked dough was most of the fun.

At any rate, doing that for a dozen formative years doesn't prepare you for much in life — certainly not pulling a high GPA at college, or explaining to your son why it would be wrong to shoot a squirrel with a pellet gun even though you've spent all morning yelling at the squirrel for getting into the supposedly squirrel-proof bird feeder — but it does prepare you for confronting tiny little underwhelming cream puffs in the sky. They show up, and you're prepared. You own those bitches.

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