Last night The Wife and I used a $50 gift card I won on Twitter sometime back in 2011 from DiAmico Restaurants. While the gift card was good at any of the DiAmico-owned locations, we found that the only menu we both found items we thought we’d enjoy was at Cafe Lurcat in Minneapolis.
We made 6:30 PM reservations on a Thursday, not that they were at all necessary as the restaurant wasn’t even close to full, but we arrived a little late due to our sitter running a little behind and traffic on I-94 forcing us through the city. We entered through the beautiful Bar Lurcat and were led through the narrow hallways which eventually opened up up into Cafe Lurcat itself.
Quiet with a nice decor, we were seated next to a window which offered us a view of the restaurant and open kitchen. While The Wife noted she wouldn’t have liked to have been closer to the kitchen, I think I would have thoroughly enjoyed watching the staff prepare meals for those eating at the restaurant that evening. Aside from the high ceilings with large windows and the open air kitchen, I thought the rest of the restaurant was nicely done and certainly looked nice enough for any special occasion.
We were provided with waters and a basket of bread with some very tasty salted butter. The menu is impressive and a little on the spendy side for us. With appetizers running between $9.5 and $16 and entrees from $19 to $35, this is a place we would likely only do on a very special occasion or when someone else is footing the bill. We eventually made our choices, both going with steaks and an appetizer to share. We ordered the Lurcat Crab Cake ($14), Baby Potatoes with Chive Butter and Creme Fraiche ($8.50), the 7oz Filet ($34) cooked medium-rare, and a NY Strip ($30) cooked blue (very rare).
The Lurcat Crab Cake was out first. It was a good size but I am still cringing a bit at the $14 price tag–something I generally reserve only for multiple cakes of similar size. However Cafe Lurcat’s version wasn’t skimping on anything. The breading carried a beautiful crunch and was full of flavor but definitely wasn’t all you could taste. While the crab meat itself was a bit strong for my liking, I was surprised to taste the bell peppers and a tiny bit of peppery spice inside. While The Wife said she really enjoyed the dijon sauce, I didn’t get much from it and was fine enjoying the crab filling and breading without it. The Wife, being the big crab cake fan she is, said it was definitely good (certainly above average) and something she’d order again. While I would have preferred another appetizer all together, being that Cafe Lurcat had all seafood items (except one) on their starter menu and The Wife being as miserably pregnant as she is, we had to stick to what was safe for her. Better luck next time.
Cafe Lurcat was definitely not rushing anyone this Thursday evening and thus they took their time delivering our entrees to us. Eventually our steaks arrived with The Wife’s being placed in front of her first. A beautiful 7oz filet, although it looked larger to me, was topped with sauteed wild mushrooms (they looked like shiitake to me which are definitely not “wild” however I didn’t really get a chance to take a close look or get a good enough taste to be certain) and sitting on a gorgeous Bordelaise sauce, this was one gorgeous piece of meat. Perfectly cooked to mid-rare with a beautiful salty and peppery crust, I thoroughly enjoyed the three pieces The Wife carved for me. Tender and crunchy and perfectly seasoned, coupled with the earthy mushroom and the deep wine and marrow sauce, I was in heaven as the meat melted in my mouth. This was worth every single penny of that $34 and I would absolutely recommend to anyone who’s a steak lover that they try this one out.
My NY Strip came out with two bleu cheese stuffed onions and was topped with a very nicely done garlic butter (beurre gascogne). While the crust was similarly done to The Wife’s filet, the center was cooked a little more than mid-rare. In fact, it was heading for medium as it was more than just warm to the touch. After one bite our server asked what I thought and I replied, “it’s all right.” Instead of just wandering off she pressed me for more with a, “just all right?” (nice!) and I replied that I thought it was overdone for blue but perhaps it was because I hadn’t yet reached the middle. She offered to take it back and cook another and they did. While I didn’t really expect nor need this to happen I will admit that it was appreciated. I’m guessing the first steak was either resting too long or the kitchen thought that I was a typical Minnesotan who wouldn’t know “very rare/blue” from a hole in their head.
The second NY Strip I had was definitely cooked blue. Seared on the outside but cool to the touch inside, this was perfectly done. While a little tougher than I would like, perhaps I’m spoiled on the recent filets I’ve tasted in both my home and across the table from me, the flavor was excellent and I was thoroughly impressed. While the steak was quite good, the Snake River Bleu Cheese (out of New Richmond, WI I was told) stuffed onions were an absolute treat. Aggressive yet smooth, these sweet little onions were heaven on a plate and definitely coupled well with the steak while not overpowering the meat as bleu crusts so often do.
The potatoes and creme fraiche were good but certainly not $8.50 good. While it was nice to have them on the side, I really wish that Cafe Lurcat didn’t do ala carte entrees and provided some smaller and cheaper vegetable side options to serve with the meals.
After our entrees we ordered some coffee and dessert. The Wife went with her Corner Table favorite, the Pots du Creme ($9) and I went with a triple chocolate cake ($9). The desserts took a long while to arrive allowing us a nice chat and time to drink our coffees. The Pots du Creme didn’t live up to the high bar set by the Corner Table but my chocolate cake was light and fluffy yet absolutely bursting with chocolate. While I’m not much for desserts, especially at nearly $10, I thought these were good enough for me.
Our bill eventually arrived, minus the $50 gift card, and came out to an astonishingly low $39. Surprised I started signing the check when the server passed by to let me know they took my steak off the bill–something I didn’t expect, notice, or desire. When I said that was unnecessary she just replied with, “that’s how we do it here.” The total bill would have run somewhere north of $110 for two coffees, one appetizer, two steaks, and two desserts. Again, not out of control for a high-end place, but definitely way more than The Wife and I usually spend on dinner.
Overall I really enjoyed our dinner. The server was extremely knowledgeable (offering both the least expensive and most expensive items on the menu as worthy suggestions), friendly, and just the right amount of table touch and the food was top-notch. While not the best meal we’ve ever had in town, it was definitely a memorable one and Cafe Lurcat is most certainly a place we’d return again to celebrate a special occasion or happily dine on someone else’s dime.
Have you ever eaten at Cafe Lurcat in Minneapolis? If so what did you think? What did you order and what would you like to order in the future? Have you eaten at any of the other DiAmico restaurants and what did you think of those locations? What do you think about restaurants which serve their entrees ala carte and have high priced vegetable sides? Whatever you have to say about Cafe or Bar Lurcat go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
1624 Harmon Pl
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Monday to Thursday: 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Friday and Saturday: 5:30pm – 10:30pm
Sunday: 5:30pm – 9:00pm
See all the pictures from Cafe Lurcat in Minneapolis on Flickr here.