Tag Archives: Cafe Maude

Celebrating

Every once in a while I do something right around here. Last night an excellent example of one of those times. Mrs S turned 50 on Thursday and I wanted to celebrate half a century of grace and loveliness in way that would be meaningful for her and not get me in big fat trouble for not listening to her wishes. She doesn’t like to be the center of attention in any way, shape or form and she emphatically told me that this was to be an drama free event, no big party, no expensive gifts no nothing. A quiet dinner and we would call it good.

Can’t let 50 go like that. So knowing her as I do and knowing how much she cherishes friends I organized a little surprise birthday dinner for her at Cafe Maude in South Minneapolis. Operative word LITTLE. The restaurant is small so anything more than about 12 people would be bigger than they would probably want to handle on a Friday night. Plus she was very adamant that she didn’t really want to do anything except go out to dinner, so a big ass deal at someone’s house with thousands would not be in spirit of celebrating the birthday as she would like.

So, two months ago I put the wheels in motion. Reservations for 12 at Maude. I thought it would be really cool if I could sneak the boys home from college and have them join us at the affair. Although I was ready to fly the Auburn kid home, he had a test on Friday and Mrs S would not be happy to learn that he missed something important for this. He would have to Skype in. The Michigan Tech kid was able to get away despite losing two days of school this week to snow. 5’ of snow in Houghton in two days. Upper Peninsula living.

Arrangements were made, people invited, flowers purchased, and everything was a go.

We have some wonderful friends, really like family. Several of the women had taken her to lunch the day before, not a word was passed. On game day, she had no idea.

Here’s the thing about the other gender, just when you think you can predict their actions…

For the last 28 years Mrs S has been late to every event I’ve ever been too with her. She just runs late, it’s how she rolls. FALS- Females Always Late Syndrome I call it. Seems to be pretty common out there. But last night, the night of her big event, when I fully expected her to start getting ready 11 minutes before we had to leave, she’s freaking ready to go 30 minutes early. Yeah, half hour. Comes downstairs and says “You ready? Leszgo”. I panicked. I had instructed the guests to arrive at 7:00. Mrs S was ready to leave the house at 6:30 which meant we potentially could be sitting down 10 minutes before folks were scheduled to arrive.

“We got 30 minutes my precious turtle dove, chill.” “Been chilling all day, lets go early and sit a the bar.” Employing the following stall tactics I bought us almost 45 minutes:

  • Couldn’t find my keys. This didn’t work so well as she countered with “we’re taking my car aren’t we?” and handed me her keys.
  • Couldn’t find my muffler thingie. “It’s gone, you dropped it somewhere, it’s not that cold out LETS GO”.
  • Gotta go the bathroom. Spent about 5 minutes in there playing doodlejump until she knocked on the door to ask if I was ok.
  • Gotta let the dog out before we go. “Since when” was her response.
  • “Let me make sure the DVR is set to record CSI” “That’s on Wednesday night”..”CSI New York”, “Since when do watch that” Since you came downstairs early. “Honey just a sec I kinda forgot how to do this.” 3 minutes.
  • Took the wrong freeway to get there. That was good for about 10 minutes alone.
  • Drove 10 MPH below the speed limit. “Why are you driving so slow” “It’s icy” “People are passing us on the right now whats the deal?” “Want to be safe” “Seriously? Then wear your seatbelt.”

Unknowingly intent on blowing this event, as we got the restaurant at exactly the right time she says “let us out (daughter too) and you can go park the car.
“No, I’ll park right here.” Right here was street parking two blocks away. It had snowed about 5” during the day and as a result there was a snow bank on her side of the car. She had a hard time A) opening the door and B) Climbing over the mini-glacier only to get to an un-shoveled sidewalk.  This accentuated the gripe factor “can’t just let us off at the clean shoveled front door, blah blah blah. “

It was all worth it when we walked in (and she thankfully didn’t notice one of the party on the phone in the lobby as he was ducking behind a coat rack) and her face lit up. Seeing a little misty eye when she realized that her son was in the crowd, even better.

It was a fantastic evening judging by how happy she was chatting and enjoying what she enjoys most, time with friends.

Dinner BTW, phenomenal as always and the staff at Cafe Maude were awesome, atmosphere was outstanding as always and the food is fantastic every time I eat there. I told the server to “bring us stuff” and she did. Great choices of different flat breads, and a lobster croquette that was the best thing I’ve eaten in 2013. Soft cheese filling with a chunk of lobster.. the gourmet mac and cheese for the daughter, gnocchi in lemon sauce with capers, spinach and feta.. awesome.

Best part of the deal, came in about half the cost I had figured it would be. A huge surprise given the quality of the whiskies and wines people were enjoying.

It was a great evening for a great lady.

 

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Routines

Old Mr. Sank has been in a rut. Stuck in a routine.

Rather than fight the early riser curse I’ve been dealing with I’ve decided to go with it. Up at 5:00, breakfast and coffee, grab the 6:00 bus, in the office by about 6:35, and do work.

Come home, do other work and go to bed.

*sigh* tyranny of the mundane.

But, we did mix things up last night, nothing makes your dear friend Sank happier than a trip to his favorite south Minneapolis neighborhood eatery, Café Maude.

And boy did we ever pick a fantastic night to go there.

Monday through Wednesday, Maude has a prix fix menu option, last time it was lima beans and chicken. delish, but not my favorite thing I’ve ever eaten at Maude.

Last night, Chef Kemp out freak’n did himself on menu, let me recall:

IMG_0780

Main Diver Scallops- sautéed, served over small shrimp, chickpea fries, eggplant, za’atar and walnut yogurt.

This pushed off the pork with mascarpone dish I had at the Lexington in February as “the best thing I’ve eaten this year.” It was that good. Best scallop dish I’ve ever had in my life.

IMG_0778A night at Maude is always the highlight of my week, nay month. I arrived a bit early, thanks to public transportation. Beat the drivers from downtown by 20 minutes. I headed up to the bar where the bar tender, who was great BTW, and I engaged into one of my favorite conversations, good whiskey. He suggested that I try a new-to-me bourbon, Buffalo Trace. Never heard of it before.

Well, dude was right, was great. Made even better by the hand chunked ice cube he added. Delish.

Since the weather in the Twin cities has been spectacular we decided to enjoy the patio. What a night to be dining out on the street.

Once again Café Maude was the place to be. And it’s the place were you can be… stay tuned dear readers.

Buffalo Trace Distillery

Café Maude

Café Maude
5411 Penn Ave South
Minneapolis MN.

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Cafe Maude- Again

Wednesday night Mrs S and I went out to dinner with some very good friends of ours, and when we think special I aways think Cafe Maude. Actually, this was the same couple we’d been to Cafe Maude with a few months ago, so it wasn’t hard to convince everyone to make a repeat visit. This time however I wanted to take a crack at their Prix Fixe menu. They do a Prix Fixe Monday through Thursday nights. Tuesdays and Wednesdays it’s $20.00 for a three course meal plus a glass of wine or beer. Sunday and Wednesday it’s $30. Being cheap I suggested the Wednesday night deal.

Cafe Maude is essentially a neighborhood restaurant, the bill themselves as a local hang out and the atmosphere there really reinforces this idea of local and friendly. Probably the reason I keep going back. Not that I live in the neighborhood, but a man can wish…

 Wednesday’s menu was a mixed green salad, a very interesting chicken confit with bacon bits, brussels sprouts, lima beans, and sun dried tomatoes and covered in garlic butter. Dessert was a fresh backed chocolate cookie with a salty carmel ice cream.

Our friend, the male half of the couple and I rode the bus from downtown to the restaurant, a remarkably easy ride which required no transfers and dropped us off two blocks away. Access to the bus is a major plus in my book, keeps me from driving anywhere.

On arrival, and we beat the wives there by about 20 minutes we started things off with a Bookers bourbon and bowl of one of my favorite dishes at Cafe Maude- the mussels. I’ve waxed on about their mussels before, the toast, butter, garlic.. mouth watering.

I was a little disappointed with the selection in the whiskey/bourbon department, and our server wasn’t well versed in whiskey. I was looking for the Basil Hayden she had mentioned only to learn they were out, or didn’t carry it.. still Bookers is excellent. Vanilla overtones, but with a high 120 proof that requires small sips.

Oh well, I had a nice conversation with her about whiskey and bourbon and I think I was able to pass along some good knowledge.

Now ordering straight bourbon at Maude is kinda stupid, they make some really cool and unusual libations and Mrs S helped herself to a fancy margarita that had some bitters in it. She referred to it as a “winter margarita” due its not quite so sweet thing going on.. It was good but not my fav. I’ll stick to the whiskey.

The salad was simple and delicious. I enjoyed the dressing, lot of vinegar. Good stuff.

Now the chicken dish.. that was pretty complex.

First of all let me go on record as say that up until that night I’d never meet a lima bean that I liked, nor that I would eat on purpose. In my experience lima beans are nasty soft green things that truly make me gag. Add in brussels sprouts and you’d see me eating something that would make my mother fall over dead. All stuff I’ve been known to hate. (Hmmm maybe I’ll more of that stuff it helps.. never mind)

These weren’t canned lima beans however, these were reconstituted, they started dry and were soaked overnight in water and an onion. So texture and favorwise, they were quite different from what I’ve had before. The flavor was very very mild, more like a pasta than a bean. The texture was firm with a satisfying al dente like quality.. Bottom line, I ate more lima beans in one night than the previous 17,741 nights prior, and that’s combined. And.. I didn’t bitch once about it. I’m such a big boy now, is that something. Mrs S, growing up, was allowed one “hate” food that when served, she was allowed to pass on. Hers.. you guessed it, lima beans. She liked this presentation as well. On the other hand, she has since replaced limas with brussels sprouts since I’ve never even considered cooking with lima beans but I do enjoy roasted sprouts.

In this dish however the sprouts were leaved and mixed in the compote with the tomatoes and butter, so she didn’t notice. I don’t think she noticed.

I have to say something about the chicken, which was a quarter leg and thigh, broiled I think. It was the deliciously moist on the inside and delightfully crispy on the outside. Crispy enough that it held it’s own against the compote. I thought it was one of the better chicken dishes I’ve ever eaten. Very homey and comfort food like, and the same time using ingredients that I wouldn’t, nor would most home cooks consider. A+

Dessert.. I typically get the cookies and milk at Cafe Maude for dessert.. and it’s too much. One too many delicious rich fresh baked cookies. This was one cookie and a taste of ice cream. Very nice but I somehow got the scoop that missed the carmel vein. I know this because I ate Mrs S’s when she got up to use the can, and hers was better. One suggestion that she had for the Prix Fixe menu.. she’s not a dessert person, nor was one of the other folks we were with. She’d like to suggest a choice of small appetizer or taste from one of Maudes Small Plates as an option for the dessert free folks.

How’bout it guys?

To add to the evening, live music. I didn’t realize they were going to have a band when we made the rezzies, it was a dub band of all things playing in the back ground. Three 20 something white kids doing their best Lee “scratch” Perry meets Sly and Robbie. They were good and added to the evenings enjoyment.

So.. all in all fantastic evening at Cafe Maude. However we weren’t paying close enough attention to the budget and the Prix Fixe with the mussels and four cocktails got us north of $140 for the four of us. Should have been closer to $100 if we’d been a bit more careful.. but no regrets the food was great and the atmosphere welcoming and friendly. That makes 4 consecutive outstanding visits in a row… a tribute to a well run restaurant if you ask me.

This old and in the way fat guy says thumbs UP~

Cafe Maude
5411 Penn Ave S
Minneapolis

(612) 822-5411

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Eat’n and Drink’n wit da fat man- Some shamless plugs

This weekend Mrs S and I happened to my favorite restaurant in Minnesota, Cafe Maude.. and once again, they did not disappoint. I’ve raved about Cafe Maude here before so this time I’ll keep it short. If you haven’t eaten there, give it a try.

We were there to celebrate and say thank you to some great friends of our who were a huge help at the Daughters Bat Mitzvah, back in June. We were celebrating our 26th anniversary, also late.. the real date was back on August 4. Lastly, the big news that Mrs. has re-joined the workforce as a school nurse in ISD 196. It was the perfect storm of belated joyousness.

yeah for us.

BTW, for your reference-
Cafe Maude
5411 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis
612.822.5411

So, this time around we had:

House Cut Fries with Truffle Fontina Fondue- Um I don’t know were to start with accolades here. This could be one of the best plates of french fires I’ve ever had. Right up there with a Indonesian version I had in San Francisco that had red pepperflakes, sea salt any.. the fondue truffle dipping sauce.. awesome.

Salmon Poke- I’ve had this before and it is excellent. The sashimi grade salmon is cubed and topped with a mild wasabi. The real killer here is the lemon grass, soy and chili slaw thing on the side. Big hit.

Hoisin Ribs- these are a perfect interpretation, sweet and tasty.

I can’t go to Cafe Maude with out getting the mussels. They were very good, but I don’t know if they piled on a few more shellfish because we were splitting them four ways.. but we really light on the excellent garlic/shallot broth.

Black Forest Ham and Pear Flat bread… this was excellent, it has a cream sauce on it that’s amazing, delish.

Deserts-

Cookies and milk. Fresh hot cookies out of the oven with vanilla milk. Perfect and simple. Gordon Ramseyish if you ask me.

Caramel tart with berry compote. It was like eating home made caramels on graham cracker crust. Awesome.

Cheesecake.. ok this was the most interesting cheese cake I’d ever had.. fresh light.. with fruit and.. cut basil. Never had basil on a cheese cake but it worked.

Now, in addition to the food, this was kinda of a neat night for us in the wine department.

Matheson Wines- a very different wine tasting

Matheson winery is a small urban winery in, of all places, New Mexico. Always eager to try new things, and after a summer of drinking 3 buck chuck, I was dying for something new.

We tried two wines from Matheson, a Doce and something they call Tres.

The Tres is a blend of tempranillo, grenache, and cabernet sauvignon grapes. The vintner explained to me that this a regional style of wine made from 100% New Mexico grown grapes. It’s a semi-sweet red wine that he suggested we try chilled. Chilled red wine, interesting. It was awesome. This wine was full of fresh fruit with none of the dryness that makes some big reds a bit unapproachable for some people. We quaffed a bottle at home before we left, it went over extremely well. This is one that would be outstanding in the summer at the lake. We’ll be restocking the cellar with a reorder on that one.

The Doce is a port style desert wine fortified wine that has a bit of brandy. We brought the bottle to the restaurant with us and corked it with desert. I’m a big fan of ports this winery in New Mexico nailed it. We all really enjoyed the wines.

From New Mexico mind you.

Now the disclaimer.. one doesn’t just find New Mexico wines in Minnesota by accident, although Cafe Maude does serve a Gruet Brut form New Mexico so could happ’n. I found this particular winery through a personal connection with the vintner. I’ve known him, more or less since we were in the 5th grade in Stockton California. But, just because I’ve know Mr. Matheson longer than anyone in my life, and regardless of the fact that he’s a great guy, the wine is for real. Mark’s credentials are real.

Smart, driven, hard working… Mark went UC Davis while yours truly, not so bright slacker when to UC Davis’s poor cousin Chico State. The very top wine school in the world, exactly Mark’s major, verses the top party school in the United States, twice. You get the picture.

The wine is excellent, it’s unusual in that it stands out in crowd for the good reason and I encourage you to check it out.

Matheson Winery
mathesonwines.com
(505) 350-6557

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Date Night at Cafe Maude, behind the Wifies back

This week, we’re talking about eat’n instead of cook’n. It’s like cook’n only with less work.

Mrs S took off for California at 4:15 last Thursday afternoon. At 4:16 I made a dinner reservation for two at one of my favorite restaurants in town, Café Maude. Like I said, while the warden is away, we gonna play. BTW, I have to throw some kudo’s over to Open Table, the Open Table app on my phone enabled me to get a seat at Maude with NO Fuss, right from my phone, three clicks, it’s awesome.

Since I was eating out, kinda behind my wife’s back I had to be discreet, which explains why I waited until I was sure she was wheels up. I went to pick up my date, which was a treat; not. She wanted to eat at a local fast food place and wasn’t all that interested in a dining experience. She also didn’t want to wear shoes, wouldn’t put on something nicer than a T-Shirt and complained about having to wear a jacket, despite it being below zero. However, since I am her father I pulled rank and tossed her ungrateful teen angst filled self into the car.

We had a 6:30 reservation. I can now safely report that it takes exactly 22 minutes to zoom from Agrestic Valley to 54th and Penn in South Minneapolis. We walked in at exactly 6:30 and were seated immediately. In hindsight, reservations are a must, even on a Thursday night the place was completely packed.

Café Maude is a foodie kind of place, they make lots of “small plates”, the idea being that you order several things to eat and get to taste lots of different dishes. Personally I love that kind of dining, my date however was not quite as enamored with the idea. As a matter of fact she was sort of out of sorts because they didn’t have chicken fingers or grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu. I’m really trying here sweetie, move past chicken nuggets would you.

I ordered their mussels to start us off and they came promptly. The mussels came soaking in a garlic flavored broth with tomatoes and a crusty toasted slice of bread. They were awesome, and the picky little girl across the table from me gobbled down more than her fair share I assure you. After eating the mussels, fishing the tomatoes out of the broth and soaking her bread we’d officially done work on the appetizer, nuth’n left but a pile of shells to show for it.

The next two courses were a macaroni and cheese dish for the kid, and a classic hamburger for me. Why a hamburger? I’m not sure to be honest, there are a lot of better looking, more adventurous things on the menu, the duck for example I happen to know is outstanding, but the mood struck me and I guess I figured the kid might want to share.

No chance of that. At first she was a little hesitant. “Tastes funny Dad.” Usually her mac and cheese comes out of a blue box. I took a bite.. ahhhh that would be white wine and shallots dear, and lovely croutons on the top.. delish. She took another bite, and another and didn’t stop until her plate was clean. It was one of the best mac and cheese versions I’ve had, and I’ve had many. It was way better than my own, the one I make with butternut squash and grated Parmesan.

My hamburger was incredible. A very simple presentation, ground beef patty, grilled onions on a fresh bun with catsup on the side. I had an epiphany about hamburgers that night.  A crummy hamburger, like say Wendy’s, possibly my least favorite hamburger, or McDonalds Big Mac.. the taste doesn’t come from meat, it comes from all the crap they put around the meat. A really good hamburger is flavored by the meat itself and should be able to stand alone on just the meat. That’s where my Café Maude hamburger really differentiated itself the patty was fantastic, juicy, flavorful, just the right balance of beef and grill and btw, it was grilled perfectly. The burger was clearly the star on the plate, not the add-ons.

Dessert was cookies and vanilla bean milk. It’s the standard desert for me at Café Maude. 5 large chocolate cookies, semi-sweet chips, fresh and hot out of the oven and a large mug of ice cold milk with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream in it. OMG those things are heaven, and they’re very rich so you can only really eat one comfortably, not that I let that stop me. I had three, the kid had two, and the milk… dipped in that vanilla milk.. heaven.

All in all, another very impressive dining experience at Café Maude. I can’t say more good things about it. In addition to good food, the atmosphere is excellent, a bit loud but I like that. It really ash the feel of a neighborhood restaurant, just happens to have gourmet food.

After dinner we stopped off at Half Price Books where I paid an earlier bribe, the kid wanted a sketch book. She found one that had hand made paper and a very interesting Indian motif on the cover with elephants and Sanskrit, even I have to bow to her taste once in a while.

We got home, and unlike any other kid I’ve raised she actually thanked me for a great dinner and went on to stare at her blank book for a while. BTW, 6 days later she’s still staring at it trying to figure out what her first drawing will be.  Of course now that she’s been cut off from the Internet she has oodles of time to stare. I wonder she’ll start illustrating it?

Cafe’ Maude
5411 Penn Ave. South
Minneapolis MN
(612) 822-5411

cafemaude.com

 

 

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