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Published September 21, 2011, 12:00 AM

Halgrimson: Sampling new restaurants in the Twin Cities

Usually when I visit the Twin Cities, I tend to want to visit the same restaurants I’ve been to before and liked. But on a recent, brief sojourn we sampled four new places in two days.

By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM

Usually when I visit the Twin Cities, I tend to want to visit the same restaurants I’ve been to before and liked. But on a recent, brief sojourn we sampled four new places in two days.

Here’s a brief assessment of each one.

The Black Sea Restaurant, a Turkish place at 737 N. Snelling Ave., St. Paul, will be a destination on all our future Twin Cities visits.

The restaurant was founded in 2000 by the uncle of the man who now runs it and remains a family-run establishment. The space is about 18-by-36 feet, which includes the open kitchen and seats 26 diners.

When it opened in 2008, the Black Sea Restaurant was named “Best New Restaurant” by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

For our lunch, we ordered the Meze Platter for two, which had cabbage rolls, falafel, hummus, olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, peppers and pita bread at $8.25 and the Acili Kofte Kebab, spicy Turkish meatballs served with rice for $8.95. The meal served three of us – my stepson was with us – and we were well satisfied.

A squeeze-bottle of tzatzki sauce, which is made with yogurt, cucumbers and mint, replaced the usual ketchup on the table.

I can hardly wait to return.

Barrio Tequila, 925 Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, was another lunch stop. My stepson, Dez Bernstein, works in the kitchen there so we had to check it out. While we didn’t sample any of the more than 100 tequilas, our lunch was splendid.

The small plates are $4 to $8.50 and the tacos and enchiladas $4 to $4.50. Three kinds of salsas and chips – two red and one green – were served with our meal. Dez sampled the Spicy Crab Soup and Sam and I had tacos. The green salsa was out of this world. It was a satisfying and delicious lunch.

At Victory 44 Coffee Bar & Provisions, 2203 44th Ave. N., Minneapolis, we gathered for dinner with a large group of friends and family so we were able to share and taste many of the menu items.

Prices range from $4 for the Bacon Fries (fabulous) to $20 for the 11-ounce strip steak. The menu includes rabbit for $10, octopus for $9, a reuben sandwich and a Perfect Burger (excellent) for $10 each. I tried the Charcuterie Plate, which was served with a crisp flatbread and cornichons. It was divine.

And when the restaurants we ate at didn’t have chocolate desserts that were appropriate to my needs, we stopped by Lunds Market at 1450 W. Lake St. in Uptown Minneapolis.

There, I perused the selections and chose a stunning chocolate mousse or a confection paved with fresh raspberries to complete the meal. Uffda, but they were lovely.

We also went to Heidi’s, 2903 Lyndale Ave. S. in Minneapolis. But I’ll save that experience for another column.

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