Cheese blintzes with strawberry sauce at the LB.
The less than a year old Hotel Minneapolis prides itself on being sophisticated, yet playful. I wondered if that transferred at all to its food. Restaurant Max has been discussed for awhile, but when I saw signs in the skyway that breakfast was available at the LB (hip name for lobby bar?), I had to find out more. In case you missed it, earlier this week CP sat down with folks who truly believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but can a hotel breakfast make the cut?
As one would expect, hotels get high marks for atmosphere. The LB was spacious, with comfortable seating and tiny red flowers at each table. The lighting wasn't super-bright, so you could remain groggy while eating if you wished. (It's easy to see how the room transforms from a breakfast place to more of a lounge in the evening.) The buffet spans one side of the room. Cold ingredients like cereal, granola, yogurt, and fruit are on one side, with drinks -- coffee, tea, cranberry, grapefruit, orange juice are in the middle. Behind a counter is a chef that makes waffles and omelettes to order -- and to the right of all this are the selection of hot entrees.
In other words, a great layout. Yet, the food doesn't exceed expectations. Mostly, what you get is what you would expect from mass produced hotel fare. I was especially disappointed by the two types of scrambled eggs at the hot breakfast part of the bar. One was plain, the other had a southwestern kick, with cheese and diced red pepper. In its uniform crumbliness, it was not appetizing and looked like someone had just thrown together the ingredients without much thought. For instance, the more spiced up version had entire sections of grated cheese in the eggs that hadn't melted or been thoroughly mixed through. Another disappointment was the yogurt on the cold side. It had a thin texture and was sweet; something about it seemed more artificial than homegrown.
Similarly, the operative word for both the "breakfast potatoes" (diced potatoes seasoned with pepper and other spices) and bacon was "meh". One highlight of the buffet was the sausage -- plump, short links with a lot of flavor and not overly greasy. Other breakfast-goers seemed excited about the cheese blintzes. These are thin pancakes rolled around a filling. They were okay, the filling was sweet and soft and the wrapping light, but I was not ecstatic about the commonplace strawberry sauce that went with them.
One way to avoid the poorly conceived scrambled eggs is to get your eggs made to order. My breakfast companion did this and was delighted by the array of toppings she could choose from -- not just cheese, bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms, but also sausage, bacon, and her favorite, jalapeno peppers.
Do extra jalapenos make this worth the trip? I think not, especially at $14.95 a person. However, I have been known on occasion to be won over by service -- almost as an extra special ingredient to a restaurant meal. However, the feel over at the LB was pretty sleepy. Not all the tables had their silverware or glassware out yet. We weren't offered water until the last five minutes of our meal. I couldn't find any great sense of dynamism anywhere -- all of which leads me to think that while the LB breakfast may be an option for guests at the Hotel Minneapolis, it may be awhile before the rest of us downtowners feel secure putting such an important meal in their hands.