French Meadow Bakery and Café in Minneapolis, with its twinkling tree branch-lined walls, is perfect for a romantic evening. The soft mood lighting and hushed conversations all around invites diners to sit a while – order and appetizer and a glass of wine – and just relax. The ambience is romantic, but most people were dressed casually. French Meadow Café is a non-vegetarian restaurant with several clearly marked vegan options and a lot of it organic.
We ordered bruschetta to tempt our appetites. The tomatoes, basil, and garlic doused in balsamic vinegar and olive oil and spread over crusty bread was delicious but fairly standard. (I noticed that they’ve now moved on to a more wintery bruschetta with three different flavors – tomato caper, eggplant, and patty pan zucchini tapenade.)
Next to come – the entrees. I ordered the Butternut Squash Gnocchi. Pillowy gnocchi was covered in sautéed wild mushrooms, perfectly cooked and slightly chewy to the bite. Also in the mix – zucchini, wilted and spicy arugula, garlic, and piping hot tomatoes bursting at the seams. This deliciously garlicky dish was so delectable, it had me wishing for more.
My husband ordered the Tempeh Cutlet. This dish was a blend of sweet and spicy – savory tempeh cutlets were served with a blood orange vinaigrette and complemented with braised greens and dirty brown rice. To complete the meal, coconut red beans finished out the plate.
The next day, we were both still waxing poetic about the meal the evening before, and we decided to hit it the next night for an early dinner. This time we went with their sandwich options.
I have a deep love of sauerkraut, and so their Grilled Tempeh Reuben was an obvious choice. Marinated and grilled tempeh was served with a tomato-soy aioli on rye bread with a thin layer of sauerkraut. The reuben, while not bad per say, was a disappointment. There wasn’t one standout flavor. It was all kind of bland, which is the last thing that I want in a reuben. The tempeh didn’t taste like it had marinated for long, and it was served in two thick cakes instead of tasty strips, which can give a tempeh reuben such a satisfying texture. The sauerkraut was a bit sparse, and the aioli pretty mild. I found myself wishing I’d ordered the Gnocchi all over again.
As for my husband’s sandwich, well, I definitely had some food envy going on. He ordered the Thai Tempeh served on hemp bread with red bell pepper, green onions, a generous handful of cilantro, and best of all, a fantastic ginger-peanut sauce. To me, peanut sauce is like avocado and Trader Joe’s Jalepeno Pepper hot sauce – it makes everything better. Both sandwiches were served with small mixed green salads.
While French Meadow wasn’t a complete success, I will definitely want to visit again the next time I’m in the Twin Cities. Just based on that first dinner alone, it’s a menu that I’d like to explore more.