Sunday, April 7, 2013

La Chaya Bistro

Sunday morning. Cold. Damp. Still waiting for spring. It sounds like it will be another week or so.
by Charlie Leck

We ate last evening, with a friend, in a lovely and extremely good little restaurant in south Minneapolis – La Chaya Bistro – on Nicollet Avenue at 46th Street. It’s my third time there for dinner and I’ve had lunch there at least that many times as well. Juan Juarez Garcia, the owner and chef here in this Mediterranean/Mexican place knows what he’s doing and his food is riddled with flavor and fun. Top-to-bottom last night, I was thrilled with my dinner and I think the ladies were too.
Charles, our waiter, was as good as they get. He was young and handsome and knowledgeable about his restaurant and its possibilities. He recommended a wonderful red wine for us – a remarkable Spanish red that was not inexpensive, but was worth the slightly pricy amount we paid for it. We told Charles we were avoiding glutens and he took over and showed sympathy and helped us through our adventure for the rest of the evening.
We began by sharing a large platter of delicately spiced roasted vegetables. I remarked that I’d turn into a vegetarian if I could get vegetables like that in front of me all the time – peppers, tiny tomatoes, green onions, brussell sprouts, artichoke, olives and some sort of paper thin, tasty strips of lettuce. My wife and I split a small salad that had tang and challenge and just the right amounts of flavorful oils and vinaigrette. It was just a perfect amount before they brought on my beautifully presented ribeye steak surrounded by more elegantly roast vegetables and a magnificent leaf of cactus. I’d never had cactus before and it was, next to the perfect and tender ribeye, the highlight of the evening. What a remarkable compliment that cactus was to my steak.
My wife had a large, but delicate, piece of sea bass that was served with a robust pumpkin seed sauce, roasted potatoes and sweet red peppers.
I finished the evening with an absolutely wonderful, rich cup of Mediterranean coffee with a dollop of crème. I professed to everyone within ear-shot my total satisfaction and pleasure.
Trés, trés bon! It was one of my best dinners in a long, long time. Kudos to the chef! I’m not a food critic, but just a guy who loves going out to dinner with his wife. I know the kind of places she likes and I almost always know precisely what she’ll order off of the menu. I scope a restaurant out to make sure it will fit her tastes. This is one that has pleased her exceedingly each time we’ve gone there.
Tonight we’ll go to Windsong Farm for dinner and Kelly and Mark will be our guests. We hope they like it there as much as we do.

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