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My 4-Star Twin Cities Restaurants

A lot of you were interested in my post on Rick Nelson’s 4 star Twin Cities restaurants. The concept of 4 stars is fun to me, and I really liked what Steph March had to say about them. 4 stars is a blessing and a curse: if something goes wrong at a 4-star, people aren’t very forgiving. If something goes wrong at a 3-star, it’s fine! Everyone makes mistakes!

But I like the idea of giving stars. I like having to make a definitive judgment, without all the backstory and the context. 4 stars means THIS RESTAURANT IS OUTSTANDING. It doesn’t mean perfect, but it means outstanding. It comes with requirements beyond great food (in my mind): excellent service, a proper host/hostess stand, more than one bathroom. I used to think that a bar with cocktails is required, but I’ve had 4-star experiences at places without cocktails.

Bear in mind, some of my favorite restaurants in town are in the 3-star range. The Strip Club in St. Paul is my favorite place to eat: I love the food, I love the people. But you walk in that room and you’re in the middle of the dining room. The restaurant is gorgeous with amazing views of St. Paul, but down the block you’ll find a condemned duplex. You can have 4-star experiences in a 3-star place, if that makes sense. Perhaps the Strib doesn’t have an easy place to find all the 4-stars because the reviews are a snapshot in time. They are a judgment of what the restaurant was doing at the time of the review, not a judgment that is conferred forever. That said, if I had to hand out 4 stars to Minneapolis Twin Cities restaurants, I’d go:

If I included Marvel Bar in The Bachelor Farmer complex, I would give that operation 4 stars too. And if I include the genius of the Heartland Market in the Heartland Restaurant, same deal. Plus, I need to have dinner at the new Corner Table location one more time to have a firm opinion on whether that should be 4 stars. So out of 13, I’m going 4 for sure, maybe 7. Pretty close to what Rick said, just tightening up the list a bit.

Not that I’m saying the other restaurarants aren’t awesome: they all are. And I’m not saying the restaurants didn’t deserve 4 stars when they were reviewed: they probably did. I’m saying today, with the standards of 2014 dining, this is where I’m at. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments: