Wise Acre Eatery: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Steve and I visited Tangletown Gardens, a garden center in Minneapolis, this summer. Their website states, “We’ve created an oasis that is tranquil, yet intoxicating — a place of inspiration every day of the year.” We agree, the garden center was lush and expertly designed. We also read on their website that they had recently opened a restaurant, so we walked over to Wise Acre Eatery.
It was a hot weekday afternoon and Wise Acre was open and bustling. As we walked towards the restaurant, I noticed the neatly planted flowers and large pots overflowing with colorful blooms. The property used to be a gas station. Its former life is noticeable in the two open glass garage doors, which allow diners to spill out onto the patio and enjoy the MN summer sun.
This restaurant sources its ingredients from its own farm in Plato, MN, which is about 45 miles from Minneapolis (directions to the farm are provided on their website). What we read about the restaurant before visiting matched the food and atmosphere we encountered. You can find menus on their website, which is always nice so that you can think about what you’d like to try before visiting. Although they don’t mention that they serve seasonal fare, a quick glance at the online lunch menu lists items like a Shades of Autumn salad, which isn’t something that was offered when I visited in July.
The two items we ordered, the Wise Acre: a salad with smoked sausage and a Deli sandwich served with wild rice slaw and kwik pickles, sounded appealing on the menu but didn’t wow us as we ate them. The ingredients were top notch, but we didn’t feel that they were used in creative and flavorful ways. Since the restaurant recently opened, there is much room for growth and improvement in this area. (As restaurant owners, we know it can take time.)
Dessert was our surprise. We don’t always order dessert but since it was my birthday we celebrated by sharing a lovely little treat of frozen vanilla custard with a rhubarb caramel topping. It was just the right kind of sweet and was served in a clear glass dish.
Also the restroom was pleasant. I know it might sound odd, but ever since I was a little girl, I’ve enjoyed visiting restaurant restrooms. Restrooms can tell you whether the owners or managers care about keeping the place clean and tidy. At Wise Acre, there were fluffy white terry cloth towels rolled up in an interesting wooden bowl. This may or may not be more sustainable than paper towels. Perhaps I should consult that book I paged through awhile back, How Bad Are Bananas?: the Carbon Footprint of Everything by Mike Berners-Lee.
Comfort + Coziness =the C factor: 5
This place had a number of interesting touches. I liked how the sandwich was wrapped in paper and tied up with string. I also liked seeing milk in glass bottles for sale in the display case as we walked in. Those kinds of things make me feel comfortable. On top of that, the host was very friendly and welcoming.
However, when thinking sustainable restaurant practices, a paper-wrapped deli sandwich that is not being taken out may not be the ideal presentation.
Overall Rating: 12.5+
If you ever travel to Minneapolis, you probably won’t stumble upon this restaurant and garden center because they are in a residential neighborhood, not near hotels or major businesses attractions; however, they are worth seeking out with your GPS. They aren’t too far from the airport, so if you have a few hours to spend before catching your flight, you could enjoy a seasonal meal in a comfortable restaurant and then wander across the street to explore Tangletown Gardens. Their website states that they are open all winter. It would be wonderful to visit the lush garden center when the Minnesota winter serves up chilliness, with a side of white and gray for a solid 5 months. (Although once again referring to How Bad Are Bananas?, greenhouses and flights have very high footprints [*sigh*...things are complicated and highly intertwined in today's world]…but for all you banana lovers, you may be glad to know that bananas aren’t too bad after all, according to the book.)
Have you visited Wise Acre? We’d love to hear about your experience. What things make you feel comfortable+cozy when dining out?