Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jax Café – Minneapolis, MN

Over the past few months, I’ve reconnected with two gradeschool friends. One I already wrote about – MyKrore. The other, TheMayor, I also haven’t seen in 20+ years. As it turns out, he has been consulting in Minneapolis for like 6 months and we finally were able to get together for a nice dinner. As many of you know, Gerd and I have this huge list of places we would love to try and I still consult that list (and add to it) from time to time. There was a place on the list called Jax Café that I had heard good things about, so I booked us a table there.

This place is pretty classy. I wasn’t sure how classy, but when I checked the website, it suggested business casual and up. With me being unemployed currently, it was a stretch for me to even put on pants, but I thought TheMayor would appreciate that. I’m glad I spiffed up a bit. It was really nice. It was so nice, in fact, that they give you embossed match books with your name on them when you reserve a table. Small touch, but that’s what makes it a classy place.

We got caught up on 20+ years of our lives and had a great time figuring out how we both got from gradeschool in Milan (Illinois – not the REAL Milan) to Minneapolis. Long stories, and I’m sure we frustrated the server who we kept telling to come back. I ended up ordering a French Martini before dinner, since I’m a huge fan of them. Plus, I didn’t want to let TheMayor down from all of my big talk about loving the girly drinks. Hahaha. Who doesn’t love purple fruity martinis? (Oh, yeah – everyone I know)

TheMayor had looked at the menu online before he came, so he already had his choices narrowed to two or three things before we arrived. I was going in fresh, but I generally know what I like. Large meat… And that’s what I got. I ordered the Bone-in Tenderloin with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and a Caesar Salad and TheMayor finally decided on the Prime Rib (rare) and French Onion Soup). There were a couple of other things on the menu we both really wanted to try, but we simply had to choose one and get on with the meal.

They brought some really delicious bread out to our table and we munched on that until the appetizers came out. Our soup and salad actually came out pretty quickly. TheMayor said his French Onion Soup was decent and had no complaints. My Caesar salad was a little smaller than I had expected at a place like this. It was pretty unexciting. Thankfully, the server asked if I wanted anchovies on it, or I would have been surprised – I chose no slimy fish this time. The salad was fine, just something I could have gotten at Denny’s.

The food came out while I was still finishing up my salad, so my plate got whisked away before I was actually done. Now, I know it looks like there’s a bun on my steak, but it’s a giant mushroom. I didn’t realize how much it looked like a bun until I looked at the photo again… The steak was a good piece of meat. Not amazing, but good. It was tender and had minimal fat, but the flavor wasn’t vibrant or filling. Don’t get me wrong, I ate every bite of it, but at a steak place, I like to be wowed and I was just satisfied here. Not a fail for Jax or anything, just not up to the hype (or price). The Garlic Mashed Potatoes were actually quite good and I was glad I decided on them instead of a baked potato.

TheMayor said his Prime Rib was quite good and he’s somewhat of an aficionado when it comes to prime rib. We were both so totally absorbed in our own meals, we forgot to swap pieces for each other to sample. I think if either of us would have raved about our food, we would have swapped, but as it was, we didn’t want to disappoint…

Jax is a decent restaurant, but for the price, I think I’d head to a couple of different places I’ve already been to in Minneapolis. Sure if someone wanted to go here, I’d go back, but I don’t think I’d recommend it to people or suggest it for a group outing. However, it had a really nice outdoor seating area that looked festive and decorated for the holidays – I’m not sure if it’s heated or not, but it looks like a great summer hangout. You will be treated like a king at this place, however. They’re really up on the service levels here and you’ll be treated well.
After dinner we headed back to the Aloft Hotel bar and had additional drinks. A coworker of TheMayor showed up and had a bite to eat and chatted with us until he headed off to a party. IF you get a chance to stay at an Aloft Hotel, I’d recommend it. It’s a fun, hip, classy place with all kinds of amenities. It’s one of the better places TheMayor has stayed while he’s in Minneapolis for months at a time. Sounds like it’s not terribly expensive, and it’s a good time.

Top 5 things about Jax Café
1. The service was top notch
2. Prime Rib – just going on TheMayor’s word on this
3. Great menu had me second guessing everything I decided on
4. Embossed matchbooks were a classy touch
5. Inside is classy and appropriate aloof, and the outside seating area looked fun

Bottom 5 things
1. It always bums me out to go places on Gerd and I’s list without her. She also love her Prime Rib, so thankfully, she would have liked her meal more than I liked mine.
2. Bone-in Tenderloin was just average
3. Got my plate taken before I was done
4. Small and unimpressive Caesar Salad
5. This place seems more like an old people place than a date place (I found out it might be a date place after we went – I wasn’t making a move on TheMayor)

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