368 South Blvd., Bloomington, MN | Directions 5542544.852101 -93.241700
Very good cocktails... will have to give the food another chance – I went in for a late lunch Sunday. The place was quiet and had a nice relaxing "away from the mall chaos" vibe. We waited a few minutes and figured there was no hostess at the stand so we walked all the way in to seat ourselves. I guess the hostess finally saw us and came over toguide us to a table. The place had a modern 70's look to it. I was not feeling the cactus centerpieces though. We ordered sandwiches; sloppy joe w/cheddar tator tots and angus steak burger w/fries. Portions were huge!! Next time, I'll think about splitting. I didn't like the sloppy joe because it was too sweet and it had a weird mexican taste and so did the tator tots! My expectation was to eat an all american lunch but I didn?t get that from my order. My gf's burger had bacon in it and that was pretty much a can't screw up lunch so we finished her lunch and pushed the sloppy joe to the side. I was so disappointed since we've heard such great things. This place deserves a 2nd chance, hopefully next time the service and food will be above average.
The epitome of the art of macaroni and cheese – I've eaten here a number of times over the years and always been very pleased. Yesterday I dropped by for lunch and had what might be called the comeback traditional dish of the decade, macaroni and cheese. One finds it on many restaurants' menus these days, and it's a good thing. Of course, there are now many variations on the basic theme; certainly on the Kraft boxed version with which some of us grew up. I have an entire cookbook devoted to macaroni and cheese recipes, and I've prepared many of them, some quite good. What I'm saying here is that, while I've eaten, enjoyed, and made umpteen other pasta preparations in my journey through life, I've always thought M & C can be - emphasis on can be - one of the most pleasurable.
With that preface, I will assert that the version I had here just might be the best I've ever consumed. The cheeses were gruyere, white cheddar, and parmesan, with the addition of Nueske's bacon and a bread crumb topping. Anyone who reads this, and who likes M & C, must try it. It comes with oven-roasted brussels sprouts, a vegetable which I've always thought goes well with Mac. I appreciated the fact that it wasn't cooked all to hell, but just a bit more in or on the heat would've made it better - plus some salt, which, annoyingly, wasn't to be found on any table.
At about $12 for a large and filling (can M & C not be filling?) serving, this is a decadent bargain. A nice Viognier only enhanced the pleasure.
Oh yes, and for those who don't know, the ambience inside is very pleasant, contrary to the tables "outside" where one's view is of the theme park and one's auditory stimuli consist of squealing children, at least on busy days.
Good Service – I went at a quarter after 9 on a thursday night and they were begining to clean up, and we asked if we could sit on the patio(which the server had just finished preparing all the tables for the next day) and the host proptly sat us out there, our server was excellent, he was attentive and informative with out being annoying, we ordered two appetizers, drinks, and two steak dinners, all of the food was beyond words good. We ended up taking much of the food home and our total bill was about $99 between the two of us, spendy, but well worth the money!!!
Creative, upscale California cuisine for the grown-ups at Mall of America. – In Short
Located on the Mall of America's third level, California Cafe seems to draw its main crowd from shop-till-you-drop types and folks in the Cities on business. Inside, the space is airy and stylish, outfitted with comfy booths, crisp linens and artsy accents. The lengthy wine list, contemporary decor and creative menu mean no screaming kids with stressed-out parents at the next table. Reliable choices include lobster-shrimp quesadilla or a jerk chicken goat cheese pizza.
Lifeless – Maybe it was just a bad day, but our waitress was not attentive at all. She took a long time for everything, and when she brought out our bread and asked if we'd like olive oil (yes) she disappeared and returned about 5 minutes later. The food was only average at best - my fiancee sent his entree back (the bento box) because 1 of the 4 dishes was terrible - totally bland. I had the crab melt, which was a little over seasoned and arrived cold. Maybe it's supposed to be served cold? I don't know. I won't be going back.
Good - deserves a another look – A good dining experience. The service and setting were substantial enough to make up for any deficiencies... so where were the shortfalls. As happens with many "cuisine" restaurants (and there aren't as many of these as you might assume at first glance) the menu wasn't as true to the original as you would hope. The food was flavorful, but lacked the texture and palate that you would expect to be delivered with these regional dishes - or extrapolations of regional dishes. It was good, please don't misconstrue what I am saying. In fact it was one of the better meals I have had since coming to the TwinCities. It just tasted like it was prepared and assembled by the line cook, and not the EC him/herself. Other than this, a very nice establishment with a practical potential above others in this market.
Consistently Consistent – I really appreciate the California Cafe for its casual elegance. You will feel at home whether you're dressed up or dressed down. On our last visit, my friend had baby back ribs (always a favorite of hers) and I chose a Jerk Chicken pizza. The ribs were meaty and tasty and were served with slaw and fries. The pizza was good but not great, and unfortunately it's not the first CC pizza that I've been disappointed by. I will be back, though, because the menu variety is too great not to try everything once!
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