Used to be, eating in a hotel (we wouldn’t even call it ‘dining’) was something only endured by traveling salesmen hunkered over their paperwork. But that’so 20th-century. Today, many of our cities’ premier destination restaurants are anchored in hotels and use their cafes as their culinary calling cards. Nowadays, diners seek them for their vanguard menus, rather than the thread count of the sheets.
Cosmos, on the third floor of the Graves 601 Hotel, offers a haven of sophistication above the hoi polloi of Block E. The city’s bold-type names, as cosmopolitan as the minimalist-chic setting, dine on classy melds of New American flavors, as exotic as the rare woods that form the backdrop for discreet tete-a-tetes. Bonus: early-bird specials you wouldn’t believe. P.S.: Bradstreet Crafthouse, on street level, has a winning way with small plates and big cocktails.
601 First Ave. N., Minneapolis, 612-312-1168
BANK, the lobby restaurant of the Westin, nee Farmers & Mechanics Bank, sets a new gold standard for regional cooking, offered at quiet tables or—more fun—at the open kitchen’s counter, where dividends start with inventive riffs on Midwestern staples and pay off in desserts, served sampler style, in shot glasses. The former vault, now wine cellar, is another investment with quick returns.
88 S. 6th St., Minneapolis,
FireLake, the easygoing café of the Radisson Plaza—the company’s flagship property—celebrates down-home, season-focused Minnesota cooking (think wild rice, sweet corn, walleye, bison) offered at populist prices in a warm and cozy setting three meals a day.
35 S. 7th St., Minneapolis,
The St. Paul Grill is so beloved as a clubby restaurant that folks almost forget there are rooms upstairs. Service is St. Paul-homey, the view onto postcard-ready Irvine Park is as good as it gets, and the steakhouse-plus fare is reliably executed. (Go ahead: Order the liver and onions.) Elbow your way through the city’s movers and shakers to a window booth or table.
350 Market St., St. Paul,
Manny’s flaunts its mega-steaks supreme, displayed tableside on a cart that resembles a rolling meat market, along with à la carte and equally oversized side dishes to match, at the snazzy W Minneapolis in the former Foshay Tower. This manly club for carnivores excels in service, as well it ought to at these expense-account prices. And the wine list is just as impressive as the designer doggie bags.
821 Marquette Ave., Minneapolis, 612-215-3700
Hotel Sofitel offers a romantic repro of a Parisian bistro, Chez Colette, whose iconic fare, like onion soup, escargot and profiteroles, are far more affordable than in France these days. And who’s putting a price tag on the “authentic” atmosphere of high booths and lots of brass, not to mention those memorable baguettes in their paper sacks?
5601 W. 98th St., Bloomington, 952-835-1900
Basil’s is the prime place for voyeuristic dining, poised above the atrium of the IDS as the culinary showcase of the Marquette Hotel. Mary Tyler Moore “ate” here, when famished after tossing her beret to the winds. The kitchen has much improved since then and now makes for a romantic evening tryst as well as lunch or breakfast meeting site.
701 Marquette Ave., Minneapolis, 612-376-7404
The Minneapolis Hyatt has undergone a complete redesign, and diners are the winners. Its streetside restaurant, now called Prairie Kitchen, sports modern takes on our state’s Scandinavian kitchens—meatballs, smoked salmon, walleye, lots of dill—in a newly-bright and comfy setting (and while you’re there, don’t miss the lobby’s fireplace of local fieldstone or the vast, circular bar).
1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-596-4640
Looking ahead, Le Méridien Chambers Hotel in downtown Minneapolis has scratched its former restaurant tenant and will re-open soon with a new, organic thrust.