Monday, October 18, 2010

Kafe 421 Review

Lamb Burgers


Kafe 421 Review


Kafe 421 in collegiate Dinkytown near downtown Minneapolis is not your usual Greek joint with hunks of suspect-looking lamb rotating in the window flooded with the know-it-all tee shirt, low rider jean wearing, and backpack college crowd sharing plates of mushy chickpeas and feta cheese just to save a buck or two.  On a warm sunny October afternoon the busy sidewalk tables were jammed with diners, albeit a few of the above mentioned, of all ages and types.  The owner, Georgia who seemed to know everyone on the patio, greeted me at the door.  

 I was seated in the back dining room where I normally would’ve bristled at the idea of being shoved to the back forty but the room was welcoming and warmly lit with muted Sienna tones, dark furniture and earthy tiled floors.  My server, Kayla immediately came over with menus and water and suggested the restaurants signature dips; kalamata tapenade and an eggplant dip served with grilled pita triangles. The saline saltiness of the tapenade was a perfect foil to slather on the bland, but- in-a-good way pita bites. The eggplant dip didn’t fare as well.  It looked like a mushy pale green hotdog relish and was over-chilled and masked most of the flavors except for the garlic. 

The lamb sliders tucked inside soft petit buns spread with honey mustard aioli and seasoned with garlic, minced oregano and mint with a hint of nutmeg came with lettuce and tomato and a thin slice of cucumber that added the necessary crunch and coolness to the finely ground lamb. A luxuriously creamy Artichoke dip followed dotted with bits of sweet red bell pepper had enough garlic in it to make Dracula stop in his already dead tracks.  It came with more grilled pita bread to scoop up its luscious cheesiness.  The tanginess of the artichokes cut the richness of the dish.  

The colorful Greek salad piled with verdant green bite-size pieces of crisp romaine strewn with chunks of vine-ripened tomatoes, feta cheese and matchstick size pieces of red onion with aubergine hued kalamata olives tumbled on top was dressed with a light tasting oregano vinaigrette that highlighted instead of saturating and overpowering the salad’s fresh ingredients.

The pasta dish, Chicken Balsamico with linguine, mushrooms and of course more feta and minuscule pieces of asparagus that I needed a magnifying glass to find and chunks of chicken and tossed in a bland balsamic cream sauce was ho-hum.  It needed something to kick it up a notch, Emeril where are you?

 The meal ended with a trio of delight, tiramisu, chocolate mousse and a deliciously rich, slightly sweetened pressed Greek coffee served in demitasse cups. The tiramisu dusted with cocoa powder and layered with Kahlua moistened ladyfingers and sweetened mascarpone with a touch of Grand Marnier sat on top a pool of sauce anglaise flecked with vanilla bean was perfect.  The dark chocolate mousse also with a hint of orange liquor that added depth of flavor and dimension and topped with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream with fresh berries was a step up from the usual run-of-the-mill mousse.  Zorba would be  proud.

Eat Greek,
Rebecca
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11:55:00 AMby Rebecca
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