12 February 2013

Minneapolis: Chatterbox

From Edina Patch
This place has an interesting dynamic going on.  The atmosphere is stellar.  It has a cozy pub feel, a huge selection of food and drinks, and tons of games - both of the board and video persuasion.  It's been awarded Best Place for a First Date by City Pages.  Sweet, right?

The thing is, though... the food kind of blows.  This I can explain in great, flowering, enthusiastic, rabid detail.

4501 France Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 920-3221

First of all, an observation from Becca.  She's had 2 different kinds of wine here and was disappointed by both.  John, however, who knows beer better than I will know my firstborn child, lends 'Box props for a rather solid beer selection.

Given the choice, we had snagged the table with the couches by the Nintendo and N64.  Our server brought us controllers so we obviously started hammering it out on Mario Kart 64.  I won a few races.  No big deal.

We paused the game to inhale our Sweet Potato Fries, which were $7.95 and came with like 6 dips.  Vegans: stick to the ketchup and add salt.  As far as sweet potato fries go, these are remarkably crispy, rather than soggy and limp.  They have lots of delicious battering.  Pretty good.

The rest of the menu will look like no man's land for vegans.  It's very meat-centric - lots of burgers, meat sandwiches, salads with creamy dressings and chicken, meat on sticks, fried meat, meat dips, meat soups, meat drinks, meat desserts.  Not once ounce of tofu in sight.  Here or there you'll come across a lonely dairy-laden entree labeled "(vegetarian)" (really it's just 2 wraps).  Anything on this entire menu that you want to order vegan, save the sweet potato fries, you'll have to omit at least one ingredient.  It'd be wise to let your server know you're vegan.  What follows is a pretty complete list of what you can get veganized.

Becca's Raspberry Citrus Vinaigrette Salad for $8.95 (without bleu cheese and onions) was a total letdown. It came with romaine, oranges, and dried cranberries.  The dressing was spread so thinly across the salad that it could have been water.  Although the lettuce was fresh and crisp, I couldn't tell if the oranges were canned, and the cranberries were probably Craisins.  The salad was just phenomenally boring.  Near the end, when Becca was about to give up, she discovered walnuts.  They were all at the BOTTOM.  Hiding.  WTF?

Oh, PS, the focaccia that came with her salad was amazing.  'Cause.  It wasn't a vegetable?

Out of the two wraps, I thought I'd get more food in the De Sabroso, so I went for it at 8 bucks.  I asked the server to omit the sour cream and cheese, expecting to get the tomato tortilla with cumin black bean spread, lettuce, pico de gallo, and guac.  Then the server came back out to kindly point out that the guac actually isn't vegan.  She very nicely offered to have the chef whip up some more veggies for the filling, so I accepted.  Then instead of the fries side, she offered a side salad.  That, I also accepted.  Cram those extra veggies down my gullet, Chatterbox.  Do it.

My overall impression?  Meh.  The black bean spread in the wrap was good, but was used too sparingly.  Everything was cold and fresh.  Even the roasted mushrooms were chilled.  And I mean, it wasn't horrible.  But they had left the onions to bear the brunt of the flavor.  That's not a very nice thing to do to people who are on a first date.  Good thing Matt's stuck with me.  The salad was... kind of like Becca's.  Despite the extra veg.  Boring.

Now, I ate through this subpar food just so I could figure out what I should tell you.  Here's my final pronouncement: order a pizza.  Yes.  This meat-obsessed circus offers build-your-own pizzas with SOY CHEESE.  Why would a restaurant choking on meat give you a glorious choice like that?  No idea.  Not complaining.  Just order yourself a decent pie.  Grab a couple toppings - a personal pizza won't set you back more than $10.  And based on my previous experiences, odds are it won't suck.

Get some better food for vegans, Chatterbox.  Then we'll talk.  Don't call me, I'll call you.  I'll be at the co-op around the corner, never thinking of you.  HEARTS!

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