Monday, March 26, 2007

I'm Finnished.

The Finnish Bistro
2264 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108

Pretend you are about to embark on a vacation to Finland. Think of ten things that define Finland and that you would attempt to integrate into your vacation. Here's my somewhat random list: Scenic vistas, cold weather, nice people, left-of-center politics, art, saunas, the wife-carrying world championships, northern lights, midnight sun. Do you notice what is missing? Food. Was food on your list? Didn't think so. Finland is not exactly world famous for it's high cuisine. That's part of the reason why I was slightly skeptical as we strolled into The Finnish Bistro on Sunday morning.

The Finnish Bistro was not the intended destination. TCBC convened on Sunday morning around nine. One of the benefits to a Sunday breakfast club is the option of a schmancy Sunday brunch. Alex suggested that we try Muffuletta, of which she had heard many good things about their weekend offerings. Unfortunately she didn't hear that they were closed for repairs until the beginning of April. We discovered this when we arrived at Muffuletta. With our hopes dashed, our stomachs grumbling, and a meltdown a distinct possibility, someone spotted the Finnish Bistro down the street. We decided to peek out heads in and look at the menu. The place was crowded (usually a good sign), there was a distinct welcoming atmosphere, and there was a dazzling array of baked goods on display. Our group was weak from hunger and the idea of walking away from food and having to come up with an alternative was extremely unappealing. We were sold.

The food was a bit of a letdown. The standard breakfast menu is pretty limited, with almost no option to freelance. Three of us had the house breakfast and we were all disappointed with it. The big selling point to the house breakfast was the grilled kielbasa. Unfortunately it resembled a Ballpark frank more then a kielbasa. Is that what kielbasa is like in Finland? Fern had the breakfast foccacia and was only able to eat about a quarter of it. On the plus side, it DID closely resemble a part of Pamela Anderson's anatomy. Jimmy took the authentic approach and had the salmon lefse. He didn't hate, but didn't love it. The overall grade was a C.

No member of the group particularly enjoyed their meal, but no one was willing to bash the Bistro. It is a really nice place in an adorable neighborhood. There are many things to like about it. It is clear that they do some things VERY well at the Finnish Bistro. Their baked goods looked spectacular and their lunch/sandwich options also looked delicious. Breakfast just is not their focus, and for a demanding group like ourselves, that won't cut it. We recommend that you go to the Finnish Bistro for some baked goods, or a sandwich, or a beef pasty, just don't go there expecting an inspired breakfast.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I Found my Keys

Keys Cafe
821 Marquette Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Maybe you've noticed that our little blog never mentions one of the staples of Twin Cities breakfast dining. The reason: Judy always vetoes Keys. I'm not sure why, but her nose wrinkles at the very mention of the place. I suspect she once had bad potatoes there. Sometimes my mother can hold a grudge.

This morning I ate breakfast at Keys, and I discovered that they are no longer in that dingy basement-feeling space they used to occupy on Nicollet. They are now in the Foshay tower, which is much classier digs, full of art-deco light fixtures and an old phone booth and full-sized windows. They do have some of the same art that they used to have on Nicollet. I recognized the photograph of the little girl, but she's been moved to the bathroom area. Poor kid. Anyway, according to my companion (a non-club member), Keys also serves up a great happy hour and over-priced diner-style dinners.

I had the garlic, spinach, and cream cheese scramble. It was heavy on the tasty fresh garlic, and so I have no complaints. I usually hate scrambled eggs, and I only make an exception when they have been scrambled with cream cheese, and at Keys I was glad that I did, because they tasted good, and they didn't have that consolidated texture of scrambled eggs that I hate. The piles of fresh spinach and the cream cheese helped break up the egg mass.

And OK, mom, the potatoes weren't perfect. They had layers of true crispiness on top and bottom, but the middle was mainly just soggy shredded potatoes. Still, the tops and bottoms tasted good, and I didn't need to eat the whole portion anyway.

Adam, the non-club member, said that the bacon was good. I can report that he happily ate a massive amount of it, so I think he was telling the truth. He did say that he liked his bacon a little bit limp, though, so I'm not sure how it would go over with the club.

I give the new Keys a solid B. I could eat there again and again. I mean, I could if Judy would ever stop vetoing it.