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Featured Food | Drink Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review: Bin Wine Bar

The view towards Mears Park in Bin Wine Bar | Photo via Yelp.com
The view towards Mears Park in Bin Wine Bar | Photo via Yelp.com

Saint Paul, Minnesota: Bin Wine Bar is in a great spot, nicely decorated, comfortably furnished and serves exquisitely delicious morsels of food that complement an intriguing wine list.

Set on the northwest corner of Mears Park, Bin is perfectly situated in the heart of a resurgent section of downtown, an area that has sprung to life over just the last few years.  The room is perched on Sibley Street and offers a relaxing setting with pillowed benches, decent space between tables, and a noise level that makes it easy to have conversation with your friends. read more »

Favorite Cities Travel

24 hours in: Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark – On my first visit to Copenhagen I flew in to Kastrup airport late on a hot, still night early one September.  As we made a banking turn to come in for our landing, I stared down on the still, dark Baltic waters crisply reflecting the city lights. The city exuded calm and hospitality.

That welcoming feeling stayed with me during the short taxi ride to my hotel as my driver chatted with me in perfect English, asking me if I’d visited before and helpfully suggesting the best places to see during my short visit. We all know about the typical ‘helpful’ cabby whose suggestions tend to steer businesses to places that help supplement his income, my driver had a passion for painting and sculpture and gave me a list of gallery exhibitions and a quick critique of the art on hand at each in such rapid fire delivery that I thought Copenhagen taxi licensing involved an art history course rather than The Knowledge. The answer to the mystery was much simpler, though: my driver worked part time at the Royal Danish Academy as a researcher.

Despite the fact that my hotel was down the street from the wonderful Galerie Asbæk, my visit would likely be too brief to allow time to attend any openings. In a lovely old building just  few minutes’ walk from the wonderful pedestrian Strøget, the Phoenix Hotel was the perfect place for me to settle in for the night.  The staff was efficient yet welcoming and I was quickly checked in and brought to my corner suite on the 3rd floor.  The rooms were spacious, comfortable, and decorated in a style that successfully balanced French indulgence with Nordic asceticism.

Having settled in my room and done a quick prep for the following day’s meetings, I strolled down the Bredgade to  the Kongens Nytorv in search of a late night meal. Turning east, I walked along Nyhavn toward the harbor front amidst the buzz of cafe society enjoying the balmy end of summer.

I gave up on finding a table outside despite the late hour and ducked into Fisken Pub to sit at the bar, enjoy a bit of fish and a glass of some delightfully light Danish beer (the name of which I have been trying to recover ever since), and admire through the open window the lovely sloops tied up along the quay.

Despite having spent most of the next day in meetings at Dell’s EMEA headquarters just south of the city not far from the airport, I had plenty of time before my flight so I had the taxi drop me off at Tivoli Gardens where I spent only 20 minutes or so before walking back to my hotel wandering through side streets, visiting shops and galleries along the Strøget.

Though such a short trip in many cities would have left me feeling rushed and frazzled, in Copenhagen I never lost that sense of calm and welcome.

Recommended:

The Phoenix Hotel
Bredgade 37
Copenhagen 1260
Denmark
tel: +45 3395 9500
http://www.phoenixcopenhagen.com/

Fiskens Pub
Nyhavn 27
Copenhagen 1051
Denmark

 

Food | Drink

Restaurant Review: NOSH

Humor is a difficult thing to begin with and we live in a humorless age.  After a visit to Rochester, I took the family on the scenic route for the drive home and we headed northeast to Kellogg to stop at a LARK toys.

LARK, known for its handmade, pre-electronic age toys, has a carousel, a collectors’ shop, and a decent kids bookshop. Unfortunately, it’s all housed within a building that would aspire to brown paper if it were a bag.

One of the most distressing elements of modern architecture is the unironic mix of high- and low-quality materials.  Like hand-joined oak paneling on walls which rise from poured concrete floors. And handmade, wooden toys on oak shelves labeled with sheets of letter paper printed from a laserjet.

Difficult enough, so far, I agree.  Yet taped to one of the shelves was a sign describing the displayed toys which said “Native Americans and Cow People”.  I can’t honestly tell you whether the author of this sign was serious or joking.  And it distressed me that I had to stop and wonder.  A chap needs to be able to tell whether he’s in friendly or hostile territory, after all, and it’s terribly disorienting when he’s not sure.

After refusing to allow my children to spend fifty cents to smash a penny into the shape of the White House (or some similar capital-destroying ruse), we headed north on 61 and enjoyed the winding drive along the bluff above the river.  With the smooth, black ribbon of road wedged in the snowy hillside, it’d be easy to think you were in the foothills of the Alps if it weren’t for the Treasure Island casino billboards and Kwik-Marts you encounter along the way.

Arriving in Lake City, we stopped near the marina and spotted NOSH. Stepping inside, we had the instant feeling of sanctuary.  The warm colors of the rooms, the dark wood and big windows overlooking the harbor are inviting.  The four of us were taken to a window table in the dining room upstairs. Not many people there but we were on the early side of prime time.

The bar selections were good. I had a Macallan 15 and the Long-suffering Wife ordered a Vinho Verde, an effervescent Portuguese white that we hadn’t encountered elsewhere.

Perhaps sensing our efforts to help our kids understand that they could enjoy foods whose names they can’t pronounce, the kitchen sent out a delightful amuse bouche (take that, kids!) of pumpkin puree topped with a small, crisp bacon chip for us to sample.

Our starters were the grilled shrimp, which were firm and whose garlic-and-oil saute had just the right amount of spice.  The calamari was, thankfully, both free of breading and very tender.

The LSW ordered a roasted beet salad followed by a small plate of seared Marlin.  The tenderloin I had was nicely done, covered with a brandy reduction and served withsimple, fresh mashed potatoes.  Nothing so difficult to pull off well as something simply done and they pulled it off.

The staff was patient and attentive and provided some eminently palatable, off-menu options to the junior members of The Firm.

This is a great, cozy place to have a winter dinner and it must really buzz on a lovely summer evening.  That’s when we’ll be back.