As I mentioned yesterday, Jimmy and Judy are on vacation until May 7th, so there has been no Breakfast Club. In addition to performing all off the duties and responsibilities that go with the title of "Official Breakfast Club Treasurers", Jimmy and Judy live with and take care of three octogenarians, with varying levels of relatedness. One grandmother (Dorothy), one mother of a former fiancé (Nicky), and one family friend (Ann). This is a complicated story that may be elaborated upon in the future. Anyway, when Jimmy and Judy are on vacation, the children are charged with checking up on "The Queens of the Universe" to make sure they have enough food, have all the library books they need, and frankly that they are still alive. This particular vacation by Jimmy and Judy occurred during Dorothy's birthday (her 87th!), so the children decided to take her out to dinner. It may not be breakfast and it may not be breakfast club, but it is a restaurant review.
We went to Duplex in Minneapolis (2516 Hennepin Ave. S., 612.381.0700) on Wednesday night. The people in attendance were Beau, Alex, Rachael, Cousin Perley (an occasional TCBC member), Ann, and Dorothy. Nicky is in the poorest health, so she stays with her family when Jimmy and Judy are away. Overall, Duplex receives a C, the food was good, but a number of non-food issues drastically lowers the grade.
Food-Everyone except Rachael and I were very pleased with the food. Rachael and I both ordered the pasta of the day. The special pasta was penne with morel mushrooms and fiddleheads in a very pedestrian cream sauce. I was able to try almost everyone else's (Perley was not a good sharer) dish and the special pasta was a poor choice. The salads were very good, especially the Caeser. Ann had the chicken fettuccini, which was buttery and delicious. Dorothy had a melt in your mouth roasted duck breast with baby carrots. Alex had the bison with fois gras, and anything with fois gras is fantastic. Perely did not leave a scrap of his risotto behind, so it must have been pretty good. If you avoid the daily special, you will be quite happy with the food.
Service-The service was...how you say...disconcerting. I think that the owners of Duplex invested in a Waitresstron 9000 and to save time set it on "5' 2", 100 pounds, short black hair, tight black pants, tight black shirt", and then just ran off 15 of them. I couldn't figure out which one was assigned to our table, and for all I know we were served by eight different women.
Atmosphere-This is really where Duplex loses points. As the name would suggest, Duplex is located in a renovated duplex. Anyone who has spent time in an old duplex is familiar with the distinct "cat pee/bong water duplex smell". Unfortunately the renovation process did nothing to reduce this smell. In the favorable reviews in the Star Tribune and the City Pages, Duplex is billed as a great date locale, quiet, intimate, nice. We found this not to be true, probably due to those favorable reviews. The restaurant was packed and the tables were crammed together, packing us into small rooms like sardines. The acoustics made things even worse. Thumping music and loud voices bouncing off of hardwood floors and walls made conversation difficult at best, especially when two of the six party members are hard of hearing. Walking out of the restaurant, my voice felt hoarse from shouting and my ears felt numb. Not exactly a calming experience.
For the food alone, Duplex warrants a return trip, but not until after the initial buzz dies down. It would be nice to be able to actually engage in conversation while eating our food.