This week in Week in Reviews, the Star Tribune's Rick Nelson revisits two classic restaurants, one in each of the Twin Cities. First up, Lucia's in Minneapolis, open since 1985, where "a rigorous fidelity to classical cooking techniques is married to a modest Midwestern wholesomeness." Nelson goes on, waxing poetic about the food:
"Here is the place where short ribs are skillfully taken to their mouth-melting limits, with slow-roasted onions and root vegetables coaxed into candy-like bliss. Where the simple act of tearing into a flurry of lettuces, cabbages and other glimpse-of-summer vegetables takes on quasi-healing proportions. Where airy omelets approach work-of-art status, or a humble plate of scrambled eggs is treated with the same care as a crispy-skinned slab of arctic char sold at five times the price."
There are a few weak spots: "Lucia's is not without its issues. Some diners might find the restaurant's brief menus limiting. The dining room and wine bar are both looking their age. When the To Go side is busy, which is often, the ordering process can be a bit frustrating." But overall, Nelson writes: "when I get around to counting my blessings, Lucia's—and its namesake—occupy a permanent berth on what's fortunately a long list."
Nelson's review of St. Paul fixture W.A. Frost (which is approaching its 40th birthday) is slightly more mixed. He says that owners John and Stephanie Rupp have a winner in current chef Wyatt Evans, who has been executive chef since 2009. Nelson is positive about many of the dishes, from a "brilliant mash-up" of smoked salmon and pastrami-on-rye to head cheese that was "gloriously fatty and flavorful" and "expertly prepared and presented."
Not everything is perfect, but Nelson again doesn't seem to mind:
"Based on what I've recently encountered, I can't give a blanket endorsement to Evans' sprawling menu. Some dishes were ill-conceived (greasy pork spring rolls), others poorly executed (fishy, over-fried tuna-crab cakes).
My visits were frequently plagued with inexplicable service lapses, although they're often matched by a forceful comeback: an unmatched cheese selection, a tasting menu that manages to evoke both luxury and value, a lovely a la carte weekend brunch and an admirably deep selection of affordable wines, including more than 60 bottles in the $35-and-under range."
· All Week in Reviews [Eater MPLS]