Sooki and Mimi – Uptown

Lachelle: Let’s go to Sooki and Mimi!
Me: Yessssss!!!!

They are located in Uptown, offering a prix fixe three course dining experience.

A prix fixe menu is a type of menu that offers a multi-course meal for a fixed price.

We were able to select one item from each course and share it with each other.

I have never given a restaurant a 5* review, but after my dining experience at Sooki and Mimi, I may change my mind.

Why?

The restaurant gives me all of the feels of California. There are chili peppers posed as decor being dried in various spaces.

And …

I love restaurants that aesthetically make me feel like I am not in Minnesota.

And …

I enjoy food that brings me complete satisfaction, bite after bite where the flavors never leave your palette, like coffee breath.

And …

The service was impeccable. Nicholas was not only knowledgeable of the menu but very attentive and pleasant.

But let’s get into the deets of the menu and how beautiful each dish is.

Me:

First

• gravlax tostada

charred scallion cream cheese, everything bagel spice, capers, pico verde

Second

• hominy grits and prawns

new caledonia blue prawns, salsa macha, fennel

Third

• fish tacos

nopales, red cabbage slaw, avocado morita salsa, cilantro

Lachelle:

First

• frida salad

grilled radicchio, seasonal greens, cucumber, smoked labneh, cashew tahini, dukkah, soft egg*

Second

• tamal

yellow squash, pipián, queso fresco, gremolata, salsa morita

Third

• mushroom birria tacos

confit maitake, queso chihuahua, shiitake crema, vegetable consommé

Dessert 

• satsuma cream puff

yogurt creme diplomate, orange curd

• korean sweet potato mochi donuts

dulce de leche, chocolate mousse

Cocktail

Cilantro Sour

shochu, sherry, cilantro, pink peppercorn

Recommendations❗️
✅ Make a reservation for best accommodations.
✅ The bar is available; first come, first serve and offers a bar menu.
✅ Bring a friend or two so that you can share.
✅ Try going before sunset. The restaurant is pretty dim. If you want to take pics, you’ll need adequate lighting.
✅ There is a cool basement bar that you can access thru the alley. There is no indication that you are going into the basement. Just open the white-ish door and head downstairs. They serve crafted spirits while playing 70s music from a turn table. No mic.

Sanjusan – North Loop

My new favorite restaurant is this Japanese-Italian spot located in North Loop.

If you wanna feel like you’re not in MN 🤣🤣🤣, this is the spot.

The playlist is dope. They bump unedited Drake, Biggie, Lil Kim, Bryson Tiller and more.

The food is incredible. The flavors are deep and balanced. I’ve been twice already LOL.

My favorite dish so far is FETTUCCINE AI UNI which is a snow crab pasta dish with serrano and basil.

There is also a quaint Japanese whiskey bar upstairs called Gori Gori Peku and a sushi bar across the hall that offers an orchestrated dining experience called Kado no Mise.

All three spaces are extremely intimate and service is impeccable 👌🏾 .

Reservations are recommended but walking in will only get you a spot during non peak times.

Kitchen + Kocktails Chicago

When I first heard about the newly opened Kitchen + Kocktails in Chicago, I immediately went to Open Table to book a reservation. Their grand opening on October 1st was so highly anticipated that their reservations are completely booked thru October and November.

I perused Open Table for every date and every time that was available to choose from and there was no availability. None!

Then I sent one of the IG posts to my daughter who lives in Chicago and she replied back, “I have reservations for the 11th.”

So me being me and often traveling to Chicago for the day just to eat good food, went on the good old internet in search of flights. I couldn’t find a decent flight so I decided that I would opt out and try again in a few months.

Well a few days had passed and I decided to keep checking flights. 💥 BOOM, found a reasonable flight and booked it.

Now after stalking their IG page, I decided on the fried catfish, yams and mac and cheese. This is literally my favorite soul food combination especially when the yams and mac and cheese meet. My goodness. I had my mouth all set.

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty of why I am writing this review. Be patient and enjoy the ride.

Kitchen + Kocktails is a Black owned restaurant. I have this undeniable desire to support Black folks no matter what. Especially businesses that are owned and operated by Black people.

Upon entering the establishment, there is a beautiful flower wall with the Kitchen and Kocktails logo on it. Of course I took a photo because we do it for the Gram so that everyone will know we were there.

Now I was not immediately greeted. Everyone seemed to be busy doing something but I was ok with that and admired the all Black staff and all of the black patrons. I was just excited to be there.

After checking in I was told that the entire party needed to be there in order to be seated. Keep in mind, this restaurant in downtown Chicago, its 4:20 pm and raining cats and dogs outside. But no biggie, I understand that because some restaurants adhere to that policy.

I used the time to examine the ambiance of the restaurant, take a few photos and order two drinks at the bar that totaled $69. Slurp!

The Obama portrait was dope as well as the affirmation wall located on the bar side. The swing added another nice touch because again, we know that we love taking pictures for the Gram.

After being seated in the bar area, we understand immediately that this was going to be somewhat of a party. The music was loud and the tunes were very club like. After a few Kocktails, you will definitely get to bopping your shoulders and screaming Ayyyyyyeeeee!

Our server KC welcomed us and began taking our drink and appetizer orders. He also informed us that it was his first day on the job. KC was very cordial but uneducated on the menu items.

My daughter and her two friends ordered the gumbo for their appetizer and we also ordered crab cakes and shrimp with deviled eggs.

About 15 minutes later, KC returned and said the kitchen 86 the gumbo because they didn’t have anymore crab legs and that they wouldn’t serve it without it. I asked if he could request a sample for them just to taste it so he scurried off to inquire. Roughly 5 minutes later, three bowls of gumbo with the crab knuckles included were delivered to the table.

We all looked at each other and concocted our own story as to where the crab came from because KC mentioned that some crab had just come in. Come in from where? Added to the gumbo how? 🤣🤣

Those crab knuckles had marinated in the gumbo roux. They weren’t just added. But anyway. They said the gumbo was spicy but lacked the flavor that you get from using gumbo file.

Crash! Shatter! BOOM!

DAMN! Another server dropped a glass or something similar. All night long, things were shattering left and right. It’s not funny but damn. Oh and the floors are marble, take on moisture and are very slippery. You can literally stand still and your feet will just glide apart. A few folks had to be caught from falling.

The owner is an attorney so hopefully he addresses this concern immediately. The floors are not safe and I see lots of lawsuits occurring if some rugs are not placed down immediately but I digress.

Back to the food.

The crab cakes were good, meaty, void of the extra fillers and the accompanying remoulade had just enough spice.

The shrimp on the deviled eggs were extremely salty and the egg filling was a little too sweet. The shrimp were served cold. I wasn’t a fan at all.

We’ve already placed our dinner order and expecting it to arrive soon.

Well here comes KC to inform us that the catfish has been 86 and he’s so sorry. It’s been about 25 minutes at this point since we placed this order. Three of us are waiting for catfish.

Sigh 😕.

I am literally thinking that I flew all the way to Chicago for some catfish and they ran out. I’m not Joe Jackson mad but more like “What you talking about Willis” upset.

Remember, the catfish, yams and mac and cheese are my most favorite combo.

Well Nicole, you can’t have it so choose something else. Something like fried shrimp, pork chops, smothered chicken, bla bla bla and all these others things that I don’t eat.

So I decide to get the $35 lobster tail. I wasn’t tripping on the price until it arrived – about two minutes after ordering. Not sure how but I’ll take it.

The lobster tail was the size of my index and middle finger touching. I’m guessing four ounces max.

Crash! Shatter! BOOM!

More glasses shattering 🤣🤣🤣.

So now two of us have food. The other two do not. We’re being patient while enjoying each other as well as the club music loudly blasting from the nearby speaker.

I’m at the point that I am attempting to ascertain why this lobster tail is $35 and why is everything a la carte and why are the sides thirteen damn dollars and why a whole bunch of other things too. I am also attempting to ascertain why they decided to use so much salt on the lobster tail and why the mac and cheese was so dry and missing the main component taste and texture of the cheese.

Now here’s the crazy part 🤪. Ten minutes into me eating my food, an order identical to mine came from the kitchen. I explained that everyone has their food. The server looked perplexed and the other servers did too as they try to determine what table the plate needs to go to. Then here comes more sides. Nope we have all of our food. Then a side of mac and cheese comes out to our table. Again, we explain that we have all of our items.

I kid you not.
Crash! Shatter! BOOM!

More dishes or glassware fall to the slippery floor. A “caution wet floor” sandwich board remained by the bar area during the duration of our visit.

KC was great. He did the best he could with the little knowledge that he had. One thing he didn’t do was offer any sort of accommodation or complimentary dessert but instead asked us if we wanted to order dessert. He knew we were disappointed 😞 but didn’t offer anything to make things better.

One of the things I really disliked was that no one in management came to our table to address our concerns or to even thank us for dining with them.

Oh and we found pieces of a paper ticket underneath the fried shrimp. You ever see restaurants place their ticket on the plate as it’s being prepared? They do this to keep track of what goes on the plate. We brought it to KC’s attention and it was removed from the bill.

What went well:
1. KC was great. I’m not sure if he had future serving experience but we liked him.
2. The yams and crab cake cakes were delicious.
3. The music was bomb but can be a turn off to older guests who want to dine in. Honestly, it’s not restaurant music. It’s club music.

My hopes is that they address the following :
1. Properly train kitchen staff to understand inventory flow and how to determine when items have shortages.
2. Place runners throughout the restaurant. The floors are extremely slippery. Someone will fall and injure themselves.
3. Update the website to reflect accurate pricing and accurate food descriptions. We were over charged on every item that is on our tab.
4. Create opportunities for guests to leave feedback. Even on the website, there is no option to share your dining experience.
5. Inform guests that paying with cash will be less than the total bill. How? I have no idea. I’ve done the math and still can’t figure out why cash is less.
6. Advise guests that there is a mandatory 20% gratuity charged to all tabs no matter how many guests. When I purchased the drinks at the bar, 20% was added to the bill and I tipped an additional 15% without knowing. No way I would have left another tip. This needs to be told to each guest. Seems pretty unethical to me.
7. I understand leasing a space downtown Chicago is probably sky high. However, $13 for a small side and $35 for a 4 oz lobster tail is high way robbery. I will never forgive them for this 🤣.
8. Lay off the salt.
9. Create a better playlist. Not everyone wants to listen to Rick Ross and R Kelly while eating dinner. The music was way too loud. We could barely hear each other at our table.

I will conclude with this.

I dine out quite frequently. I’ve eaten at fine dining restaurants as well as dive bars and food trucks. Impeccable service will trump a poor food experience any day. You can fix the food but most times poor service is activated in the wait staff and management and I’m not sure you can fix adults who work in service but choose to serve poorly.

I didn’t feel warm and fuzzy. I didn’t feel very valued and I didn’t feel satisfied or that anyone cared if I returned or not.

It’s understood that everyone has a different pallette. Mine is a bit more refined because I’ve had access to unique dining experiences as well as being fed by local Chefs throughout the Twin Cities.

The reason that I do not give restaurants 5 stars is because that indicates that you’ve never had a meal better than that or that’s the best or one of the best meals you’ve ever had. We have to be careful of this behavior and these types of reviews.

I wish Kitchen + Kocktails the very best. I would possibly return again in a few months to see if they have made any adjustments but I’m definitely not catching more flights.

#theminneapolisentreepreneur #kitchenandkocktailschicago #chicagorestaurants #downtownchicago

Date Night at Umbra

Date night at Umbra always feels like home. They have a new menu that rolled out and we were able to try three new items.

  1. Scallop & Lobster Croquette Sliders
  2. Sea Bass – now served with saffron risotto
  3. Lobster Risotto

For dessert, fried bread pudding which is always my FAV.

They also have live music every weekend. It’s definitely a cool spot to vibe and chill and were like family!

Chef Kevin Aho and Emily Pollock and the entire staff are always ah-mazing ❤️ and treat us like family.

Dessert & Discussion cards by Alex Merritt #TheLoveEngineer was a fun addition to the evening.

TheMinneapolisEntreepreneur #DateNightMN

Nonna Rosa’s

Checked out Nonna Rosa’s yesterday. It was my first time dining in. We usually order take out and the food is always delicious. Dining in was a far better experience than having it delivered.

The Aroncini was a bit heavy for my taste but I enjoyed the Shrimp Fritto and the garlic mash was on point as always but needed some salt.

Our server was very pleasant and thorough. The entire staff was on point.

The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating.

They are located in Robbinsdale.

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TeaLee’s in Denver Story time 😃 [120 second read] When I visited Denver a few weeks ago, I intentionally searched for Black businesses to support. I ran across a tea house in the Five Points neighborhood; one of Denver’s oldest and most diverse neighborhoods. It’s located at 611 22nd Street. Upon entering the small tea shop we were greeted by the owner Risë Jones. She was a beautiful, petite and gracious Black women. There was music playing, black art adorned the walls along with books, jewelry and of course tea. I’m not a huge tea fan but I was eager to try something different. I’m all about creating memories and experiences. Because Denver is 5,280 feet above sea level, you may feel a bit of sickness while you’re there as you’re adjusting to the altitude. Anyway, edibles and altitude may not go together very well but again, it’s all about the experience. After ordering the Hibiscus tea and picking out a few tea cakes to accompany the tea, I couldn’t help but watch Risë as she gracefully prepared our drinks and placed the tea cakes on a small plate. She said we couldn’t eat them from the wrapper. They needed to be on a plate😂. The tea house is very small. It can accommodate about 8 guests at one time. There were two other guests inside when we arrived but they left shortly afterwards. A few locals stopped in to get their daily fixes and again I watched Rïse gracefully take care of each guest. The edibles have kicked in. The music is soothing. Time is standing still. We’re in Denver drinking tea and eating tea cakes in a Black owned establishment! Eventually Risë had served all of the guests then made her way back to our table. We asked her to take a seat and she does. The conversation started by her asking where we were from and what brought us to Denver. We continued to chat with Risë about a plethora of things. The edibles are clearly in full effect at this point. We chatted about art, books, travel, food and other Black owned spots to patronize in Denver. She told us about her downstairs which is a bookstore as well as a community space where she hosts gatherings and small events. As she’s schooling us on the Denver happenings which isn’t much due to Covid, a couple walks in and takes a seat at the larger table next to us. We could tell that she was extremely familiar with the two. Risë told them that we were looking for a Black food business to dine at and also mentioned to us that this couple had a food business that closed down due to Covid. We know this story all too well. The three of them collectively researched places we could eat while on their phones and having chitchat. Their conversation was priceless as they mentioned the places we wanted to avoid if we didn’t want to get shot in the back😂😂. That’s real🤷🏾‍♀️. Risë came back to our table and asked us if we had heard the song ‘My Imagination’ by Bill Withers. We said no. Guess what, she played it. We could hear the melody but the lyrics weren’t very clear. If you listen to this song, you’ll understand the gem that she dropped on us that will forever be embedded in our souls. Oh but the tea. The Hibiscus tea was a bright cranberry complexion. It was vibrant and bold tasting. It made me so happy. In that moment, I was utterly satiated. I’m in Denver drinking tea and eating tea cakes in a Black owned establishment in the middle of a pandemic! Oh but the real tea is Risë. Being the inquisitive person that I am, I did some research and found out that her and her husband opened TeaLee’s together a few years ago. Seven years prior to opening TeaLee’s, Risë was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Fortunately, she beat it — and after she recovered, her husband asked her what she wanted to do with her life. Her reply: “I want a tea house.” Her husband passed away late 2020. If you don’t know someone’s story was a story, this is the story! I miss Risë and I think of her often. I can’t wait to see her again at 611 22nd Street.

Butternut Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

1 large onion, chopped

6 cups vegetable stock

1 medium butternut squash peeled and seeded. Lawd this part was work!

Cut into 1 inch pieces

Vegan Chickenless Seasoning Salt ( Trader Joe’s). Figure out how much.

Black pepper. The ancestors will tell you how much.

  1. Heat EVOO in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the squash, Vegan Chickenless Seasoning Salt and black pepper to the pot and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, 22 – 25 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, make you an adult beverage and heat oven to 375°F. Toss the reserved seeds with some EVOO, some of the Trader Joe’s Chickenless Seasoning and some salt and black pepper and roast until golden brown and crispy, 10 minutes.
  4. Using a blender, working in batches purée the soup. Sprinkle with the toasted seeds, cilantro and swirl in the coconut milk.
  5. Be creative. Add additional flavors if desired.

RH Restaurant

So I’ve been holding out going to RH Rooftop because the menu seemed underwhelming but today Galie suggested that we go there after Ikea.

The place is stunning. The staff is extraordinary. The food is beautifully plated and delicious too.

Get there. Have your own RH Rooftop Restaurant experience.


Menu:
Peach Bellini
Burrata
Avocado Toast
Smoked Salmon
Truffle Fries

#MinneapolisEntreepreneur

Green is the New Black: Pop-up Market

Appetite for Change hosted its first Black business market that supported and showcased over 15 small business owners.

It was the perfect sunny day with an added crispiness in the air indicating that Fall is right around the corner.

I was able to support six black businesses with my coins ♥️

Here are a few of the vendors and some yummy plant-based goodies.