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 Meal Deals 
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Post Meal Deals
There are ways to absorb a restaurant's ethos without paying top dollar for the privilege. Here are nine strategies.

By RICK NELSON, Star Tribune


1. Get happy

The ritual known as Happy Hour isn't all about cocktails. Tejas marks down 10 popular menu items (smoked chicken nachos, crab-chèvre tamales) to just $3.95. Downtowners know that Vincent Francoual's whopper of a burger -- stuffed with short ribs and gouda -- gets marked down from $13.50 to $8; seriously, what are you waiting for? Tops in the late-night happy hour category include Solera, which boasts 10 meticulously prepared tapas in the $2 to $6 range (don't miss the divine shrimp croquettas) and Saffron, where chef/co-owner Sameh Wadi prepares a half-dozen superb noshes (love that lamb bacon BLT) for just $3.50 a pop.

2. Dine in twos

When the clock strikes 8 p.m. on most weeknights, Broders' Pasta Bar offers couples a small appetizer, a salad, a choice of six pasta dishes and a half-bottle of Italian wine for $26. Monday night's "Cheap Date Night" at the Bryant-Lake Bowl starts at 6 p.m., when $28 buys a pair of entrees (meat or vegetarian, the options change weekly), a bottle of wine (or two tap beers for each diner) and a round of bowling.

3. Splurge sensibly

"Bargain" is a relative term, but several tasting menu options make it possible to wallow in Perrier-Jouet luxury while paying Andre prices. The $40 four-course tasting menu in the La Belle Vie lounge is $25 less than the dining room's five-course counterpart, but still embodies chef Tim McKee's highly finessed cooking. Chef Patrick Atanalian makes weeknights (minus Friday) shine at Sanctuary with his ever-changing five-course ($35) spread. NorthCoast chef Ryan Aberle boldly strides into innovative culinary territory, charging just $35 for the five-course joyride.

4. Noon instead of night

While lunch menus routinely carry dinner items at lower prices, several restaurants also offer value-minded midday meals. At the always elegant Vincent, $12.50 buys a choice of three ever-changing entrees chased by a no-fuss dessert. For $20.21, 20.21 chef Asher Miller gives lunch guests the restaurant's full-court press, with a three-course spread that reads -- and tastes -- like a whirl through the menu's greatest Cal-Asian hits.
5. Never pay more than half price

Several dozen Twin Cities restaurants slash their wine prices in half on certain evenings. Tuesday is the night for three of the best, at the Modern Cafe, Mission American Kitchen and First Course.

6. Choose an off night

On Sundays at Cafe Levain, chef Adam Vickerman offers a comfort-oriented three-course meal ($25 for meat-eaters, $20 for vegetarians) that changes weekly. Sushi lovers with gigantic appetites should circle Sundays on their calenders, because that's when the sushi bar at Zahtar by Fhima goes into all-you-can-eat mode, for $29.95. Wednesday evenings are when the downtown institution that is Peter's Grill charges just $4.55 for its baked chicken dinner, a quarter-pound bird served with dressing, whipped potatoes, cranberry sauce, a cabbage salad and a softball-size dinner roll.

7. Take a seat in the bar

In the chic little lounge at Sapor Cafe and Bar, chef/co-owner Tanya Siebenaler offers quicker, looser versions of the energetic global cuisine she showcases in her dining room, including a pair of excellent potato croquettes ($4), a colorful fish taco ($6) and a pita-size pizza topped with grilled portobellos and a zesty red sauce ($7.50). Entrees in Cafe Lurcat dining room range from $20 to $36, but when chef Adam King puts his New American imprint on Lurcat's bar menu -- including what might be the city's most irresistible burgers -- the results average a more recession-friendly $9.

8. Check out a lower-priced sibling

At first glance, Restaurant Alma and Brasa have almost nothing in common. Look closer. Owner Alex Roberts brings his exacting culinary vigor to both formats, but the price-per-person is considerably lower at Brasa. The same can be said for Lucia Watson's Lucia's Restaurant vs. Lucia's Bakery & Take Home and Tim McKee's and Josh Thoma's La Belle Vie vs. Barrio and Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque.

9. Become a frequent diner

With a "Rewards Card" from Twin Cities Originals, every time you dine at any of the 28 member restaurants (including Biella, Broders Pasta Bar, Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant, Murray's and Thistles) you earn a point for every dollar spent; for every accumulated $150, you earn $10 that can be spent at any member restaurant. Parasole Restaurant Holdings (including Manny's Steakhouse, Chino Latino, Pittsburgh Blue, the Good Earth) has a similar program. Oh yeah, in the Every Little Bit Helps Department, don't leave home without a buy-six-pizzas-get-a-seventh-one-free punch card at Punch Neapolitan Pizza, home of the Twin Cities' best pizza and best quick-service food, period. Or the punch card at Be'wiched (buy 10, get one free), maker of the Twin Cities' most artfully crafted sandwiches. I may forget my driver's license, but my wallet always contains both.


Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:57 pm
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If ever your younger relations start selling "Metro Dining Club" cards to raise money for their tennis team or porn site or what have you; <b>buy the cards</b>. At least half of them will be BOGO free meals at places within the metro area.

If you've been dating a girl for more than 6 months, it's perfectly fine to start whipping out the bargain cards.

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Fri Oct 24, 2008 2:10 am
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This post made me very hungry. Then I looked in my wallet and decided on peanut butter and jelly.


Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:24 am
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i really recommend happy hours. my favorite is stellas. 50 cent oysters, cheap appetizers/drinks and free shrimp and raw bar.


Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:30 am
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chknkillr wrote:
i really recommend happy hours. my favorite is stellas. 50 cent oysters, cheap appetizers/drinks and free shrimp and raw bar.


shhhhhhh!


Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:19 pm
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Palomino has a great happy hr.


Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:16 pm
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50 cent oysters? How is the quality compared to other places? Do they taste particularly fresh, as in the half shell fresh? I dig clams and oysters. It disgusts the wife but I come from Long Island where you go clamming in the bay and slide 'em down right out of the water.

I don't get to make out as much as I used to but good oysters are worth it.


Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:35 pm
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devil wrote:
50 cent oysters? How is the quality compared to other places? Do they taste particularly fresh, as in the half shell fresh?


i don't know how to tell if they taste fresh and haven't compared to many other places but i'll say they're delicious and from what i can tell very fresh tasting-i'd have to have a seasoned oyster eater make the call. i think they're .50 on fridays 1.00 the rest of the week[?]. i'd recommend getting there early it gets busy. [sorry i spilled our secret mzmelissa :cry: ]

-----------
*there is also an article of worthwhile happy hours in this weeks city pages.


Sat Oct 25, 2008 12:06 am
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Wasabi is my favorite happy hour. THe ol' lady and I rarely spend more than $75 on a buttload of sushi with apps and a couple of drinks. And, they're actually open late, unlike most of the restaurants in this freaky farm town.

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Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:23 am
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I found a good one...

Mongo's in Maple Grove. It's a fantastic Mongolian BBQ with lots of fresh stuff to play with. And the best part is it is extremely cheap. I spent about $10 for my meal, which filled me up nicely. That's for 1 bowl of whatever you want. If you spend an extra $1 you get the unlimited salad bar- or if you spend $2 you get unlimited BBQ. So for $12 you can have all you can eat Mongolian BBQ which is excellent. Highly recommended.

~Ether~

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Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:14 pm
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Post Re: Meal Deals
devil wrote:
There are ways to absorb a restaurant's ethos without paying top dollar for the privilege. Here are nine strategies.

By RICK NELSON, Star Tribune


1. Get happy

The ritual known as Happy Hour isn't all about cocktails. Tejas marks down 10 popular menu items (smoked chicken nachos, crab-chèvre tamales) to just $3.95. Downtowners know that Vincent Francoual's whopper of a burger -- stuffed with short ribs and gouda -- gets marked down from $13.50 to $8; seriously, what are you waiting for? Tops in the late-night happy hour category include Solera, which boasts 10 meticulously prepared tapas in the $2 to $6 range (don't miss the divine shrimp croquettas) and Saffron, where chef/co-owner Sameh Wadi prepares a half-dozen superb noshes (love that lamb bacon BLT) for just $3.50 a pop.

2. Dine in twos

When the clock strikes 8 p.m. on most weeknights, Broders' Pasta Bar offers couples a small appetizer, a salad, a choice of six pasta dishes and a half-bottle of Italian wine for $26. Monday night's "Cheap Date Night" at the Bryant-Lake Bowl starts at 6 p.m., when $28 buys a pair of entrees (meat or vegetarian, the options change weekly), a bottle of wine (or two tap beers for each diner) and a round of bowling.

3. Splurge sensibly

"Bargain" is a relative term, but several tasting menu options make it possible to wallow in Perrier-Jouet luxury while paying Andre prices. The $40 four-course tasting menu in the La Belle Vie lounge is $25 less than the dining room's five-course counterpart, but still embodies chef Tim McKee's highly finessed cooking. Chef Patrick Atanalian makes weeknights (minus Friday) shine at Sanctuary with his ever-changing five-course ($35) spread. NorthCoast chef Ryan Aberle boldly strides into innovative culinary territory, charging just $35 for the five-course joyride.

4. Noon instead of night

While lunch menus routinely carry dinner items at lower prices, several restaurants also offer value-minded midday meals. At the always elegant Vincent, $12.50 buys a choice of three ever-changing entrees chased by a no-fuss dessert. For $20.21, 20.21 chef Asher Miller gives lunch guests the restaurant's full-court press, with a three-course spread that reads -- and tastes -- like a whirl through the menu's greatest Cal-Asian hits.
5. Never pay more than half price

Several dozen Twin Cities restaurants slash their wine prices in half on certain evenings. Tuesday is the night for three of the best, at the Modern Cafe, Mission American Kitchen and First Course.

6. Choose an off night

On Sundays at Cafe Levain, chef Adam Vickerman offers a comfort-oriented three-course meal ($25 for meat-eaters, $20 for vegetarians) that changes weekly. Sushi lovers with gigantic appetites should circle Sundays on their calenders, because that's when the sushi bar at Zahtar by Fhima goes into all-you-can-eat mode, for $29.95. Wednesday evenings are when the downtown institution that is Peter's Grill charges just $4.55 for its baked chicken dinner, a quarter-pound bird served with dressing, whipped potatoes, cranberry sauce, a cabbage salad and a softball-size dinner roll.

7. Take a seat in the bar

In the chic little lounge at Sapor Cafe and Bar, chef/co-owner Tanya Siebenaler offers quicker, looser versions of the energetic global cuisine she showcases in her dining room, including a pair of excellent potato croquettes ($4), a colorful fish taco ($6) and a pita-size pizza topped with grilled portobellos and a zesty red sauce ($7.50). Entrees in Cafe Lurcat dining room range from $20 to $36, but when chef Adam King puts his New American imprint on Lurcat's bar menu -- including what might be the city's most irresistible burgers -- the results average a more recession-friendly $9.

8. Check out a lower-priced sibling

At first glance, Restaurant Alma and Brasa have almost nothing in common. Look closer. Owner Alex Roberts brings his exacting culinary vigor to both formats, but the price-per-person is considerably lower at Brasa. The same can be said for Lucia Watson's Lucia's Restaurant vs. Lucia's Bakery & Take Home and Tim McKee's and Josh Thoma's La Belle Vie vs. Barrio and Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque.

9. Become a frequent diner

With a "Rewards Card" from Twin Cities Originals, every time you dine at any of the 28 member restaurants (including Biella, Broders Pasta Bar, Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant, Murray's and Thistles) you earn a point for every dollar spent; for every accumulated $150, you earn $10 that can be spent at any member restaurant. Parasole Restaurant Holdings (including Manny's Steakhouse, Chino Latino, Pittsburgh Blue, the Good Earth) has a similar program. Oh yeah, in the Every Little Bit Helps Department, don't leave home without a buy-six-pizzas-get-a-seventh-one-free punch card at Punch Neapolitan Pizza, home of the Twin Cities' best pizza and best quick-service food, period. Or the punch card at Be'wiched (buy 10, get one free), maker of the Twin Cities' most artfully crafted sandwiches. I may forget my driver's license, but my wallet always contains both.


Awesome post, thanks!

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Fri Oct 31, 2008 9:45 am
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Wasabi's website says they're open until 2am. It's good to know their <i>kitchen</i> is open until then... lots of places are open until bar close but don't serve food after. Strangely.


Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:29 pm
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alisgray wrote:
Wasabi's website says they're open until 2am. It's good to know their <i>kitchen</i> is open until then... lots of places are open until bar close but don't serve food after. Strangely.


Oh, i know. It's like the common thinking around here is "Well, drunk people never want to eat, and all the respectable folk are in bed by nine so they ca get up to milk the walleye..."

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Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:14 am
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