St. Paul >Food & Dining > 128 Cafe
128 Cleveland Ave N, St Paul, MN | Directions 5510444.945319 -93.187197
Friday & Saturday 5-10
Neighborhoods: Merriam Park West, Merriam Park - Lexington - Hamline
No Place Like Home – Worth every penny!
We have traveled around the world, all over the US and grazed our way through some of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities; and I must say our dining experience at the 128 Cafe last night held its own against some of the finest experiences we have enjoyed over the years. This is the first time I've written an on-line review, but felt compelled.
We started with the Butternut Squash soup was creamy with a delicate hint of heat. The demi-glace with the Grilled Beef Tenderloin and the Penne Pasta had a wonderfully complex and layered flavors. The vegetables retained their texture and flavor while the pasta was the perfect temperature. We kept thinking that the next course would be the dud; certainly we didn't expect every one of them to be perfect. It might not be for everyone, but the mango sorbet was exquisite! What a wonderful evening.
The presentation of all our food was a feast for the eyes and the service was outstanding--effortless dining--it is unfortunately rare to find this type of service where you don't even think about it because it’s flawless--say that second cup of coffee without asking let alone hot coffee. The servers at the 128 Cafe nailed it--how divine!
Thank you 128 Cafe.
Don't bother – In a time where the pocketbook is tight why can't this neighborhood spot "get" the value of good service. I was shocked having heard such good things years back about this establishment. The service was rigid and uninformed..Not recommended, go to classes on being classy with your patrons... That's right, your money source....sorry. The metro is competative, people can go anywhere...
Great wine, apps, and dessert – I went to the 128 for a birthday celebration about a month ago. The food and atmosphere was fantastic. The interior is cozy, quaint, and comfortable. The rissotto was delicious, as was the goat cheese and chutney platter with baked garlic clove--never had anything like that, excellent pairings and wonderful flavor. The hostess and server were younger, presumably college goers at UST--they could have been a bit more on top of things as we were left for extended periods of time. but the apps, wine, and their ribs more than made up for it.
Not as Good as Expected – I had been meaning to get to 128 Cafe for years and finally made it. It really was not as good as I had anticipated. The food and service were okay...but my fish way too under-cooked, and when I asked them to take it back, they first said that it's supposed to be that way - and when I asked them to do it anyway, they barely cooked it much more. I also placed a take-out order, and realized after I left the restaurant that it was a fraction of the portion that my friend was served for her meal. The portion looked more like someones leftovers, but still cost $18. Although small, it was tasty. Won't return anytime soon.
Truly a hidden gem, this bistro serves elegant New American fare near the University of St. Thomas. – In Short
This darling place is tucked into the ground floor of an apartment building. Two small rooms, aglow with candles reflecting on white-linen tablecloths, are usually packed with sophisticated patrons on dates. The chefs start with basics, like organic meats and fresh seafood, adding elegant simplicity to enhance each dish. The result is exciting New American fare that changes every few weeks. A perennial favorite is tiger shrimp in a piquant sauce while roasted chicken breast is cooked with tart capers, lemon and white wine.
Very good food, not very good service – My wife and I went on Valentine's Day. They had a fixed price 4 course menu. We were seated within 5 minutes. We waited 5 minutes for our server. When we told her we'd like to look at the wine list, she showed us where it was and then we didn't see her for 15 minutes. When she came back, I asked her if she had a choice between the Tempranillo/Merlot blend or the Pinot Noir, which would she choose. She looked at us blankly and said, "uhh, those are really different wines." The entire night the service was excruciatingly slow. For the 4 course meal, we were there almost 3 hours. All of the tables around us experienced the same thing...some left without dessert even though they had already paid for it. The food was mostly very good. The pizza appetizer was cooked perfectly and very flavorful. The Caesar salad was VERY average. Just some romaine on a little plate with some croutons..no garnish whatsoever. My pork tenderloin was very good and perfectly cooked. My wife's was ordered medium but came out rare to medium rare. Dessert was excellent. I'd highly recommend any of the Izzy's ice cream selections. The atmosphere was cozy but crowded...the people next to us could barely take off their coats without us moving out of the way. So overall, pretty good food the such bad service that we probably won't go back very soon...too many other choices in the Twin Cities with comparable or better food and definitely better service.
Good food but we won't go back – I tried grilled vegetables with couscous which I really loved, but what my friend ordered from today's special, pasta, was just average. The peach pie for dessert, also with a candle on it for my birthday was cute and good. The place is small and a little dark at dinner time with a good atmosphere. But the place is cramped with tables, and the first table we got was in front of a very loud air conditioner (it was in September). The next table was on the wall with a dusty radiator. I wouldn't go back because I felt uncomfortable with their physical setting of the room and the food was not particularly great for the price. You can park on the street at certain time in the evening or on the weekend.
I'll be back – Hearty mid-western fare & vegetarian options - my dish tasted like they stopped by the farmer's market that morning to pick up some fresh asparagus & organic, run around in the sun chicken. Not too expensive considering the quality of the meal & centrally located in the TC. Loved that I could check out a sample menu on their web site.
The food was very good, staff genuinely nice & atmosphere comfortable. Accommodated our group of 12 quite well.
I'll definitely be back for a romantic dinner with my husband, who will love their wine list. We will, however, split dessert - it was huge!
Also, it's a great place to take guests in from the East if you don't want to throw one of our TC Italian restaurants up against a Little Italy crowd.
Why haven't I come here before? – As a resident of this area, I am sorely disappointed with myself. Why haven't I been to 128 Cafe before? 128 Cafe is a charming restaurant tucked in the bottom of an apartment building. The food is delicious, and the portions are just right. One is tempted to overeat here. (The prices help with that.) The cozy place would be a great date spot.
Not many choices- but you don't need them – We keep coming back to 128 Cafe. For me it is the priemere restaurant in the Twin Cities for high quality food and service and is consistant. I've never had a bad experience here. The menu has a few items- but they are all delicious! Fun atmosphere, great staff, and resonable prices. I'll keep going here!
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