restaurant review: restaurant alma

25 Apr

I have been wanting to dine at Restaurant Alma since….well….since I knew it existed.

Why? Everyone I knew that had been raved about it and Alex Roberts has been on the organic and local bandwagon for longer than it’s been cool. Plus, it’s a bit on the fancier side than Brette and I’s normal dining scene which meant this would be a somewhat special occasion. I like special occasions.

As I waited for that special occasion, I kept kind of forgetting about Alma or I would put it off for an even more important occasion. However, this year I decided to make it one of my food goals.  I’m good at achieving goals so I knew this would get me there. Then, my friend Liza (who is a master at getting things on the calendar) volunteered her and her hubby to join us and we made a date.

I must admit after all the build up from the reviews, and the fact that I kept putting it off for a more important occasion, my expectations were very high.It’s on many Top 10 lists and places you MUST go to – shouldn’t I have high expectations? Well, I think they were to high.

To high to meet.

Let me break it down.

Atmosphere: I loved the vibe there. We sat upstairs and although it was a bit warm, it was super cute and cozy. I also loved that some people were dressed to the nines and others were in jeans (albeit, very nice jeans). Some were there for a full-blown 4-course dinner and others were there to sit at the bar for a snack and a cocktail.

Oh, and Alex himself was out in the open cooking – which I thought was cool.

Food: We each ordered the 3-course tasting menu. Everyone had a dish that they really enjoyed and the other dishes were good and enjoyable. However, we were not wowed. I expected to be wowed. I do realize some of the build up was my own fault, but for $45 tasting menu, I did want to be impressed.

Since we dined there, they have changed the menu so I do not know the official names of the dishes. My apologies.

I started with the chickpea, chorizo, and squid salad. It was tasty, but I really wanted more chorizo. There were just a few paper thin slices.

My next course was well…..forgettable. I cannot for the life of me remember what I ate. Not a good sign.

My final course was the seared tuna on a squash puree. This was my favorite. The fish was cooked perfectly and I’m happy camper when anything is paired with squash.

Other favorites at the table included a potato and arugula salad, the 24-hour pot roast, and the seared trout.

For dessert, the table shared a bread pudding with caramelized bananas.  Not a morsel was left, but also not completely amazing.

I think we were all a bit disappointed that our reaction was , “yeah, this tastes pretty good” instead of “oh my god, this is amazing!”

Service: For the most part, the service was good. We were seated right away and our server was very friendly but not too friendly – which I appreciate. However, she lost some steam at the end of the meal. I ordered coffee with dessert. She went as far to ask me if I wanted cream and sugar and if I would prefer decaf (yes, please), but then never brought the coffee. She brought the dessert and rushed off to what I assumed was my coffee. Alas, she didn’t come back until quite some time later and it was to bring the check.  I thought maybe when she saw me, her memory would be jolted, but no jolt. No coffee. The good news? She didn’t charge me for it either.

To me, forgetting to bring something that was ordered is a major mistake, especially at a place like this. And considering that happened at the end of the meal, it greatly affected my overall opinion.

So, would I go back?

Yes. I’d like to give it another try. I mean this is Alex Roberts (who I have a small crush on) and I love his other restaurant, Brasa.  I can’t just give up on one visit.  However, with a total bill of $150 for the two of us, it isn’t a place I can go to just whenever, ya know? I’d love to go again soon if someone else would like to pick up the bill.

Any takers?


5 Responses to “restaurant review: restaurant alma”

  1. Anonymous April 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    I fail to understand from this whiny review why you didn’t like the restauarant.

    “Well, I think they were to high.

    To high to meet.”

    Too high?

    • jen April 26, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

      I was trying to convey the scenario where you have something built up in your mind so much that it doesn’t have a chance to meet that expectation. Kind of like being the last one to see a really great movie that everyone’s talking about. Just my .02. Thanks for yours…whoever you are.

  2. EddieP July 12, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    I’m not sure that the review was necessarily ‘whiny’ as the first commenter stated.

    Over the years, Alma has gotten tremendous press, probably deserved. It’s possible they had an off night.

    But under the current environment, consumers have become much more discriminating about how they part with their money. While $45 may not seem like a lot to some, it’s quite the opposite story for others.

    That level of spend (not including a bottle of wine, tax, and tip), comes with a certain level of expectations. In particular, quality of product, quality of service, and a certain “wow” factor that makes the consumer feel that they spent their money well.

    At this level, there really shouldn’t have been careless errors like forgetting the coffee. Coffee with dessert is quite commonplace in fine dining venues. Restaurants in the upper end have a lower server-to-customer ratio precisely so that they fan focus on a smaller number of tables and hopefully give flawless service.

    If the reviewer was underwhelmed, so be it. But I wouldn’t qualify it as ‘whiny’.


  1. April 26 Morning Roundup « The Heavy Table – Minneapolis-St. Paul and Upper Midwest Food Magazine and Blog - April 26, 2010

    […] arriving Odell brewery, a Belgian Golden is the next Unchained Summit beer, a blogged is “not wowed” by Alma, Rick talks to Isaac Becker of 112 Eatery and Bar La Grassa about his Beard […]

  2. a year in review « She said. She said. - December 30, 2010

    […] can read my review of Restaurant Alma here. Anyone want to take me there sometime […]

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