Minneapolis Restaurant Week, Part 3: Sanctuary

Spoiler alert - I'm fine with a so-so meal at Sanctuary last week to round out my three stops during Restaurant Week (see posts on Coup d' Etat and Corner Table). Now, I know what you're thinking, "Wha!? You're ok with a mediocre meal?!" Yes, I am, as the night itself couldn't have been spoiled by just an alright meal. One of the things I enjoy most about dining out (or dining in for that matter) is the interaction of friends & family. And we had that nice of a time last Friday that the meal was secondary (or maybe thirdary?).

Personally, I liked that this started the night off right - delicious
  Overall, the food at Sanctuary wasn't bad, they just seemed to be a bit off their game, though they've told us they have participated in Restaurant Week previously. The chefs got backed up and our entrees were very very late. I was just about to comment to the waitress, when the item below came to our table "gratis", as if sent from on high - it helped ameliorate us and was delicious.

Fresh Burrata Mozzerella with Heirloom tomoato and, we believe, hibuscus honey
A few other things we noticed while we waited for foods:
1. The restaurant participates in the Restaurant Week, but doesn't seem to care that much about it. This is evidenced by the fact that they had one first course listed on the special menu and one dessert, plus just two entree selections. Maybe this is a ploy to get people to order off the normal menu, I'm not sure? What I did know is that if you didn't like beef ribs or a tofu with veggies dish, you'd have to go off the main menu.
2. Our waitress was 6-9 months pregnant. I'm no doctor, but I think she was closer to nine... her "popped out" belly button poked me in the shoulder (kidding!). This really wasn't an issue, but did give us something humorous to talk about and think about later. Do you tip more since she's waiting for two? Is she going to wait tables until her water breaks? Did she want to sit down with us and take a load off? Well, kudos to her for plodding on.
3. They weren't prepared to be busy. First courses and salads came out with no problem, but someone in management forgot to tell the main chef that it would be busy. Entrees took forever, though from what I ate, it would have been quick to plate up some already cooked ribs and polenta.

Speaking of that, here's what we ate...
We started with a salad course for the four of us to share, about one bite per person:
Cantaloupe with blackberries and preserved walnuts (that was a new one)
Then our first courses - we all had the same thing, as it was the option (is it an "option" if it's the only choice?):
Dolmas (or Dolmades if you're Greek - shout-out G-Dog!) - these may have been the best I ever had. We all wolfed them down (ok, maybe just I "wolfed")
So then it was that burrata course pictured above, and then some time later... our entrees arrived:
I chose the braised beef ribs, which were served with the "silver skin" on. It was also not possible to remove the skin from the meat, so I ate it all - ugh! Is it possible that braising requires the silver skin be left on? In any case, the polenta underneath would be good on anything, like an old shoe even
Dessert finished the meal, but it was so pedestrian I didn't even take a picture. They had one option for diners, tiramisu. One person in our group left about 3/4 of it on her plate, it was that hum-drum. I mean, who leaves dessert on their plate? One saving grace on this course was a delightfully summery lemon sorbet. I could have eaten much more of that than the tablespoon on the plate.

In the end, I just didn't see why a 6 year-old restaurant in a bustling part of the city, just blocks from one of the best performance centers in the country, would be so off. Nothing was really really bad, just passable. They have outdated decor, handing you menus on big wooden dowel rods (for reals!), really odd art on the walls (think "aggressive" local art), worn out dining chairs, and just the feeling that they're stuck in the past. I don't think they can hold a candle to the other big boys in Minneapolis, with many located right down the street.

Luckily, we all still had a great night. That's the best part of dining with friends and perhaps Minneapolis' Restaurant Week. I look forward to dining with these same friends again soon, but there's no way it will be at Sanctuary...

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