Are You Experienced? Twin Cities Food That’s Dinner – And A Show

Sometimes food is fuel, and you just want to eat. Sometimes you’re in the mood for something classic: white tablecloth, three courses, something chocolate for dessert. And then there are nights (and days) when you’re ready for something a little extra. 

The following Twin Cities food experiences have elements – something happening on, or in, or adjacent to the table, mostly – that transform them from a typical meal into a time to remember. Let’s dive in and go big…

Omakase | Kado no Mise in Minneapolis | $60-145 a person | 90-120 minutes

Omakase literally means “I leave it up to you” in Japanese, and it’s a glorious way to surrender control of a meal to a chef that you trust implicitly. Since opening in 2017, Kado no Mise has proved itself worthy of that kind of trust – it’s acquired a sterling reputation for obtaining great ingredients and handling them with a great deal of care. A typical omakase experience will include bites including fatty cuts of tuna, bold flavors like sea urchin and mackerel and even rare meats such as A5 Wagyu beef; pair the meal with drinks like sake, tea, and champagne to elevate it still further.

Read more about omakase (and an innovative new local artisan THC edible company) on Heavy Table’s Patreon site.

Kado No Mise, 33 North First Avenue, Second Floor, Minneapolis, 612.338.1515 

Afternoon Tea | Lynhall Edina | $55-65 a person (less for kids) | 60-90 minutes

Connection and curation are at the heart of this clever adaptation of a British tradition with global roots. Sit down in a cozy dining room with a friend (or two, or three) and make your way through a tower of sweet and savory pastries made with exquisite care by chef Jeremy Intille. We happened upon the best coconut macaroon of our lives here (light and airy thanks to the addition of meringue) and the best stollen (German fruit holiday bread.) The tea selection is inviting and expansive, service is cheerful and unobtrusive, and the whole thing is a damned delightful encounter with great food, sophisticated teas, and (if you invite the right people) charming conversation. 

Read more about the Lynhall’s afternoon tea program in our 2022 Local Food (and Drink) Gift Guide.

Lynhall Edina, 3945 Market Street, Edina

Kamayan Feast | Apoy in Minneapolis | $40 a person | 75-90 minutes

Reservations (and a party of two or more) are required to secure a Kamayan (pronounced comm-MY-yon) feast at Apoy, the Filipino restaurant at 43rd and Nicollet in Minneapolis. If you’ve got something extra festive to celebrate, this whistles-and-bells feast might be the way to do it. 

Your banana leaf-covered table is strewn with a menu developed by chefs based on what’s available and what’s delicious, but you can expect something like what our writer Amy Rea discovered when she checked out a Kamayan feast for Heavy Table:

“A long line of steaming white rice connected the two ends of the table, and then the stars of the show arrived: Myriad grilled vegetables of all colors, grilled chicken wings and pork kebabs, and a whole grilled tilapia. We were then invited to the table where, once seated, the server brought little bowls of housemade condiments, a tangy-sour soup, and a bottle of vinegar infused with peppercorns and garlic cloves. Seasoning was light, letting the fresh veggies and meats shine straight from the grill. The condiments were tasty themselves, but not really necessary–the basic ingredients spread out on the table were high-quality with good amounts of char. Crunchy cones of lumpia, which is a Filipino version of an egg roll, were tucked into the rice throughout and offered a bit of heat.”

The fact that you get to eat with your hands is an added bonus – this is a let-it-all-hang-out meal made for feasting and bonding (and napkin-dabbing, if you must.)

Amy Rea wrote about Apoy’s Kamayan feast at length in the October 14, 2022 edition of the Tap newsletter. Back the Heavy Table on Patreon to get our culinary-rich newsletters every Friday.

Apoy, 4301 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, 612.824.4719

Duck a la Presse | Meritage in St. Paul | $275 (serves 2-4 people) | 90-120 minutes

If you’re in a “go big or go home” kind of mood, it’s nearly impossible to beat the gorgeous Duck a la Presse dinner at Meritage. Reserve it in advance (the restaurant only does one per night, after 7pm) and get ready for a serious “dinner-is-the-show” kind of experience as a gorgeous whole duck is prepared, sautéed, and flambeed table side.

We checked in with Chef Russell Klein for the current details, and he wrote back: “The duck is served with seasonal vegetables, apple confit, and currently, smoked pecan farro. The sides change with the season and our dinner menu. The meal serves two very generously, four comfortably. Depending on the group size we recommend a salad or oysters to start, but nothing to heavy. Four-tops or larger groups would most likely want to embellish their experience with additional courses. The dish is really born for good wine, and it’s a great opportunity to explore our list.” You can read more about Duck a la Presse right here on the website.

Meritage, 410 Saint Peter Street, Saint Paul, 651.222.5670

Speakeasy | Volstead’s Emporium in Minneapolis | Price and time varies

You’ll have to hunt a little bit to find Volstead’s Emporium in Minneapolis, but that’s the whole point – an unmarked door near a dim, red light is the entry point to one of the city’s best cocktail bars, a tribute to the secret bars of the Prohibition Era kicked off by Minnesota congressman and booze-banner Andrew Volstead. One of our spirits writers, John Fladd, describes the place like this:

Volstead’s Emporium is a very nice bar – small tables, dim lights, Very Old Jazz, and attractive, kind staff. Their menu is small, but the food is delicious. For our purposes though, perhaps the most important thing is that they take cocktails very seriously and think deeply about them.

If you’re able to find it, Volstead’s will serve you “a delicious drink, in a beautiful bar, served by very nice and knowledgeable people.”

John Fladd wrote about Volstead’s Emporium at length in the August 5, 2022 edition of the Tulip and Schooner newsletter. Back the Heavy Table on Patreon to get our culinary-rich newsletters every Friday.

Volstead’s Emporium

Conveyor Belt Sushi | Sushi Train in Minneapolis | Price varies | 10-45 minutes

First thing to know about conveyor belt sushi – this will not be the world’s finest sushi. Second thing to know: it will not be the world’s worst, either. Third thing to know: the novelty of the food delivery – you just grab plates of sushi off of a conveyor belt, on impulse, whenever something you’d like whizzes toward you – is really the thing. It’s a low-key thrill to plonk yourself down in a booth and immediately begin filling the table with food, and if you’ve got kids, the whole “grab the purple plate – not the blue one, the purple one! The purple!” of it all is a real kick. The experience is tailored to your appetite, too, whatever that may be – we’ve stopped ourselves at a dainty $15 a head and gorged our way toward $35, depending on mood and the quality of the fish that day. As long as you don’t take things too seriously (and that’s a crucial caveat) it’s a guaranteed mood elevator.

Sushi Train, 1200 Nicollet Mall, Suite 3C, Minneapolis, 612.259.8488

Dim Sum | Mandarin Kitchen in Bloomington | Price varies | 10-45 minutes 

If you like conveyor belt sushi but might enjoy it even more with really excellent food, you might give Saturday- and Sunday-morning dim sum at Mandarin Kitchen a try. Carts full of delicious dumplings, steamed buns, pastries, fried tidbits and more are piloted past your table at a sometimes-overwhelming pace, and you can fill up the massive lazy Susan at the center of your group before you’ve really had time to process what you’ve done.

And then you start eating, tapping into the housemade soy sauce and chili paste that adorns the table, and you realize you’ve made a wonderful, overwhelming, exciting mistake by ordering so much, and then you see something else irresistible and order a bit more. Easily one of the most delicious meals available in the metro, and one of the most fun, too – bring a group of 6-10 to really take advantage of the economy of scale and to tap into the noisy, joyful din that fills this dining room at its peak. 

We’ll cover Mandarin Kitchen’s dim sum in depth in an upcoming installment of our 18-mile, 75-restaurant tour of independent eateries along Lyndale Avenue, available to our newsletter subscribers.
Mandarin Kitchen, 8766 Lyndale Avenue South, Bloomington, 952.884.5356