However, the main reason why Thursday is my favorite day of the week is because the Taste section arrives in the Star Tribune. For the past six (or more) years, I patiently wait for Thursday to arrive so I can grab the paper and pour over restaurant openings and closings. My Thursdays became even better when the Pioneer Press started releasing the Eat section too. Wow, two food sections in one day!
When friends at work noticed my obsession with the food sections and constant chatter about newly opened restaurants an idea was sprung: Let’s start a dinner club! Through multiple lunch meetings, we determined our core members (9 of us), set some ground rules and made an overwhelming list of restaurants to visit. We also held a meeting to discuss possible names and decided upon The Finer Things Club. Totally original of us, right?
We have been going strong for almost two years now, meeting every month at a different restaurant. Last month, it was my turn to pick and I have to admit, there was a lot of pressure. Here I am the food writer of the group who attends numerous foodie events and I couldn’t decide on a restaurant!
Luckily, a friend got wind of my struggle and said he’d make it easy for me by inviting us to Longfellow Grill. Known for their made-from-scratch foods down to even the dressings and sauces, I was sure Longfellow would be an excellent choice.
Pat, our waiter (and friend) made sure we were well taken care of. He supplied us with happy hour priced drinks just before the happy hour cut off and made sure we tried a unique appetizer, Roasted Duck & Grits.
The menu describes the dish as “Slow cooked Maple Leaf Farms duck with wild Marsala mushrooms and dried cherries in a savory poultry glace, over truffle-scented cheesy grits.” Our table really liked the dish and I especially loved the grits. Super creamy yet firm and very tasty with a pop of tartness from the cherries. I’m working on obtaining the recipe as I have to make the grits at home!
[Editor's Note: I found the grits recipe -yes!]
We also shared an appetizer of Tempura Green Beans for the novelty of it.
The neat thing about Longfellow is the table spacing. Now, if I were on a romantic date, I’d hate being so close to another table, but being with a group of friends, we had no problem chatting with our neighbors. We sat next to a super sweet couple who offered us bites of their appetizers while we chatted about her former life as a recipe tester for Betty Crocker. As soon as they were finished dining, they offered a little wave as they were off to catch a Ken Burns special on PBS. How sweet!
While most of my table ordered “the best turkey burger in the Twin Cities” with a side of yummy sweet potato fries, I went with the Vegetarian Risotto.
I think the big chunks of veggies prevented this from being a delicate risotto, but it was still a fantastic dish in terms of flavor. The cheese and wine made a creamy sauce and the rice lent a nutty flavor that paired well with the spinach and herbs. My only request would be for the veggies to be chopped a bit smaller, but perhaps they were going for a more rustic dish?
We were all too stuffed for dessert, but Pat brought it out anyway, so who are we to say no? It was agreed that the Butterscotch Pudding was amazing and worth a return visit, but the Chocolate Mousse was much too rich and thick for our tastes.
Longfellow Grill was definitely worth the visit and we all enjoyed the freshly made food and attention to detail in service. We were even handed separate checks, which is sometimes flat out refused in restaurants. Small things like that are much appreciated and added to the already pleasant dining experience. Longfellow is part of the Blue Plate Restaurant Group, so you'll find similar fare at Edina Grill, Highland Grill, Groveland Tap and 3 Squares.
2990 West River Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55406