The Business Power Lunch, a sacred institution in the professional world. Executives making deals, quaffing a few martini’s and expensing the whole thing. Well, I was born to late to take advantage of those good times. But I still do enjoy a good sit-down lunch at a place with real table cloths. However, I’m cheap SOB. I’ve stopped going to my usual haunt, the Local because they dumped their meal deal. Bastards.
But all is not lost, there is a Sank hotspot downtown that deserves any foodies attention.
The Gourmet Gallery at the Arts Institutes International Minnesota.
The Gallery is the Culinary Schools “dining lab”, students run a lunchtime restaurant switching off between the kitchen and serving in the front.
The menu changes every term, they always have an assortment of appetizers, sandwiches, main courses and outlandish deserts. Every week the throw in a couple student oriented specials. Since this is a lab per se, the kitchen is separated from the dining room by a glass wall so you can watch the kids as they prepare the food. It’s pretty cool.
The food.. By and large the food is excellent, I can’t say that I’ve ever been disappointed, there’s been a few times when I didn’t think the combinations of flavors went together so well.
The Winter 2011 menu can be seen here- http://aim.aiiresources.com/ggmenu/.
If you’re interested in eating there, keep in mind, they’re only open Monday to Wednesday, and only when the school is in session. It’s best to call ahead if you have any question at all. Oh, and sadly, their only open for lunch.
I happened to eat there twice this week, Monday and Wednesday, I know, get out a bit.
Today I was there celebrating lunch with a woman I work with, and had the chance to try a couple things.
We ordered a Calamari Frita for the table for an appetizer. The calamari was lightly breaded, almost a light tempura but savory instead of sweet. It was delicious, not greasy in the least. However, and here where I have to wonder if the kids were at work trying out different flavors. It was served over a bed of olives, feta cheese and celery of all things. I’m not sure it worked. The fired calamari was plenty salty, adding olives and feta seemed to accentuate the saltiness and took away from the lightness of the calamari. I think if the squid had been marinated instead of fried it would have worked better.
For lunch the women I was with ordered the fish of day.. a rice crusted salmon on a bed of potatoes and crispy baked kale. It could have been the best thing I’ve eaten there, it was excellent. Matter of fact as good as it was I think if it had been a little heavier fish it would have been even better. Personally I don’t like a ton of extras on salmon, it’s so good with just a simple presentation. Still this was excellent.
For my meal I ordered the grilled lamb chop. It was served over a pilaf of lentils, raisins, olives, feta and mint. It was good, the mint was a little absent, I only had one bite of it in the serving, but it was still good. The lamb chops were excellent, cooked exactly to order, medium rare. My only complaint was they were small and there were only two.
Always save some room for desert at the Gallery, they do a fantastic job with some very creative presentations. Because we were celebrating a birthday we were treated to a sample of all three desserts.. yeah for us. I can’t even remember what they were except the chocolate custard. Damn was that good.
Then, the best news. Two salmon orders, an order of lamb chops, calamari and three softdrinks… $26.00. That would be total, not each.
Typical entree is $7.00, appetizers go about $5 to $6.00.
This is a fun place to eat, the food is good the service is excellent, these are students trying their hardest to be outstanding servers and chefs and they typically do a great job. I highly recommend the Gallery.
Art Institute of Minneapolis
15 South 9th Street