St. Paul >Food & Dining > Zander Cafe
525 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN | Directions 5510244.946681 -93.122274
Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, 5pm-close
Neighborhoods: Summit - University
Mucous rabbit. Yummy! – My wife and I went here for a special dinner. We usually go to the Craftsman in Minneapolis, which we love. We shouldn't have strayed. Food was exceptionally mediocre. Rabbit was cooked improperly, with the saddle was cooked as if it was rabbit breast. This left the dark meat rubbery, tough, and greasy. Rabbit was served in a bright yellow, viscous sauce that tasted of salt. No herbs, no aromatics. Sauce looked and tasted like snot. Beet salad was underseasoned- dressing only on the greens, none on the beets. Creme brulee, mercifully, was fine. Wine list was nice. Server was competent, but anxious. I cannot overstate how visually ugly the food was here. The woman next to me got the arctic char "fusion" dish, which was served with various pools of taupe, brown, and beige substances on the plate. Gives the impression of a restaurant that thinks the food is much better than it actually is.
Embarrassed – I have loved Zander Cafe for years.
A coworker approached me asking for recommendations on restaurants in St. Paul. He and his wife rarely get a night out alone and he wanted something special to surprise his wife with. I recommended Zander with confidence.
Unfortunately, something must've changed at Zander. They drove in from Stillwater only to be completely ignored by their server. They tried repeatedly to get some attention and finally he got up to ask the host for help. He was assured that someone would be right over. They sat and watched as the tables around them were waited on and finally they gave up and went back to Stillwater.
I am so embarrassed! Luckily, they took my other recommendation, Cesare's in Stillwater, and had a blast.
Great night out! – First and foremost, the food was wonderful. Everything had complex flavors that delighted the senses. We ordered an appetizer of mussels in a coconut curry sauce which was fresh and flavorful - the spice was balanced perfectly with the coconut . My fiance ordered the jambalaya which was definetly spicy, but the flavors where still there. I had a seared duck breast. It was cooked perfectly and served with an aromatic sauce that 'awakened' my senses. Our server was very nice, knowledgeable of the menu, and attentive. There was live jazz that night, however our seating made it difficult to hear and we could not see him, so that was a dissapointment. But overall, I had a great experience and would go back.
Beyond unacceptable – I'm not a writer, it's not going to translate well how neglectful and absent the service was, but here are the bullets. With reservations we were seated promptly, but waited patiently for 9 minutes (quite literally) for water or a hello. The server that seated us came back, offered excuses for who are server was to be and took our drink order. When our server did arrive, we had to ask the specials as none we offered, had to ask for bread twice even after it was offered (it arrived well after the salad and apps via the wait assistant). Our server asked if we needed anything, but walked away as my wife ordered another wine. Needless to say the wine did not arrive (go figure).
This had been one of my wife's favorite's and as a former server, manager and owner of restaurants, I always try to be impartial. The musicians made it a point to stop by three times to ask for requests and hint for gratuities, yet the server was never present when needed.
To add insult to injury, it was my wife's birthday. Her best friend had preordered and paid for a dessert that night by credit card, but it never arrived. All in all, if a restaurant is going to run without a manager present at 8 o'clock on a Friday night, they had best be on their game. They weren't. It's time to retool because their system is seriously flawed.
Our calls and messages to recoup the friends money have gone unanswered.
Cathedral Hill neighborhood bistro known for creative takes on traditional American cuisine. – In Short
Despite the mod lounge with curvy, futuristic-looking booths, Zander's soul is pure relaxed neighborhood bistro. Quirky Christmas lights dangle from copper tubing, and the unfinished plywood flooring remains a trademark. Expect well-dressed crowds, prompt service and local celebrity sightings (Garrison Keillor lives nearby). A seasonally changing, set menu emphasizes fish and vegan dishes and reflects Chef Alexander Dixon's creative, spirited style. Daily specials have included scallops crusted with sesame seeds.
the best keeps getting better – My fiancee and I love Zander Cafe. We had our first date there, we had our post-proposal romantic dinner there, and we go out on a date at Zander Cafe when we crave a special night out. Recently, we enjoyed our superb food and wine and were also entertained by a wonderful Jazz Trio. Zander is one of a few restaurants that maintains creativity, delight and excellence all the way through the meal. The service is prefectly paced and relaxed. Zander Cafe is our favorite!
Start here. – My one trip here was with a larger group for a birthday party...we had 10 people. Everyone raved about the appetizers and salads, while rating the main courses as only average. I would go back and give it a second try, but would more likely start here for drinks and an appetizer, then head off to somewhere else for dinner.
Poor Finale – My wife and I get out to a decent eatery about 1x every other month. So when we do get a sitter, we try to go to the best. Most of our locations are reccomendations from the NY Times paper. So far the have been right on - Aquavit (we miss that one), Vincent, etc. Zander's was next. Food for the money is excellent. Their home made "tobasco" on the Jambalia(sp?) and the dish itsself are top notch. Two tops are put too close together, so expect to be part of your neighbor's meal. The entire meal was great, until the dessert. They even list a pastry chef on the menu and it was beyond poor. Skip it and head somewhere else for coffee and sweets. Otherwise, for the dollar - very good.
Great place – Picked this place out of the 'Best of' list and was not dissapointed. The amibiance and food were great and the live jazz was very enjoyable! We'll be going back!
Just Ok – The friendly service and laid back feel of the place was its best attribute the night I visited. The host and our server were both very nice and friendly. The food was only so-so. Both my girlfriend and I had dishes that contained seafood, and neither tasted extremely fresh. This is not to say that the seafood was bad it just seemed a tad old. The decor sort of funky, and nice for a casual dinner.
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