07 May 2012

St. Louis Park: Mill Valley Kitchen

Captain Adventure was in the driver's seat.  I watched from shotgun.  We were the first car in line at a red light, and we wanted to turn left.  Fast.  We had food to eat, dammit.  Left turn light?  Check.  Foot ready on brake?  Check.  Light... almost green... wait for it...

Green!  But the SUV coming from the other direction just.  Sat there.  The seconds stretched.  The enormous cage of the vehicle made the man inside seem minuscule as he texted.  And texted.  Aaaannnnd texted.

Captain Adventure's knuckles tightened around the wheel.  Instinct rocketed through him.  Before I knew it, we were turning left RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE SUV.

Epic.  I love my husband.

Mill Valley Kitchen
3906 Excelsior Blvd
St. Louis Park, MN  55416
(952) 358-2000

Hold up, homies.  Mill Valley Kitchen is another fancy pants restaurant.  You must be financially prepared to see a light meal between two people cost upwards of $40.  Yes, they have these kinds of places outside of Edina.  St. Louis Park is just full of surprises!

MVK harkens back to Northern California in style.  The menu is very clearly marked for vegans and GF-ers.  However, there are at least twice (if not thrice) as many GF items as there are vegan ones.  If you want a full vegan meal - an entree, if you will - you'll need to piece together a bunch of sides, which can wind up being more expensive than any one non-vegan main course.  In addition to several vegan side dishes, there is some quality spicy chili and a couple killer salads.

In case you're wondering, the smoothies are not vegan.  They can't even make them vegan.  This happens to be the exact reason I ordered African Tea for $4.50.  The pot contains about 4 whole cups of tea, so it's a good deal - as long as you can drink that much tea, or are willing to share.  This particular blend had a hint of spice and some stronger floral tastes.  I liked it.  I liked it even more when I added sugar.

Are you a tea person?  If your answer is no, skip to the next paragraph so you feel less like poking your eyeballs out.  I'm vaguely a tea person - I drink Tazo chai every day and if I'm sick, I drink roughly 5,000 times that amount.  MVK's tea comes in a swank little French press.  They use loose leaf tea instead of the bag variety.  When you ask for hot tea with any lack of clarity, they bring you this box with 8 different unlabeled glass jars that the server will allow you to smell before making your decision.  It's quite fancy pants.  I recommend closing your eyes and pointing.

Anyway, on a less depressing note, let's talk about my salad.  It's called the Kale and Cara Cara Orange Salad, and it was $8.  I don't even care how small it looked or how few calories the menu said it had (let's just say it was more than a stick of gum).  It was de-freakin'-licious.  It came with fennel, red onion, and avocado, which had been blended with some kind of magical flavor and acted as a dressing.  Everything tasted earthy and fresh.  Perfect for spring.  "Hello, world!" the salad seemed to say.  "Bite me!"  Don't mind if I do.

Matt and I shared a side of Gingered-Shitake Quinoa for $5.  My first thought was: mushrooms.  The shitakes tasted like mushrooms.  You know, like the detritus from which they grow.  Matt seemed to enjoy them because he appreciates mushrooms more than I do.  We agreed the dish was definitely a side, meant to soak up the sauce of some bigger, better flavors, or at least the table's salt and pepper.  It'd be great with onion, garlic, currants, or some other addition.  But it was definitely comforting and rustic.  And, overall, I'd have to say mostly likable.

I happen to know through vicarious experience (thanks Jana and Carla!) that the hummus, carrots, green beans, and fresh berries are all lovely.  Which ones are spicy?  You'll never know until you try.  I'll give you a hint: it's not the fresh berries.  Gross.  What were you thinking?

If you're not a grammar nerd, stop reading now.  Remember when I told you to stop reading at the second tea paragraph, but you didn't listen and you read it anyway and regretted it?  This time I mean it.  Okay, fellow grammar aficionados: if you look at the menu section of MVK's website, you will see an inappropriately placed apostrophe.  And then you will keep reading.  Until you see ANOTHER inappropriate apostrophe in a sentence that may or may not make sense.  Oh, the humanity!  First one to find them get's ten point's.

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