Sep 232010
 

Cuisine: Appetizers, Salads, Sandwiches, Flatbread Pizzas
Restaurant Features: Bar, Live Music, Patio
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Address: 125 SE Main Street Minneapolis, MN 55414  (612) 379-3138
Hours: Mon – Fri: 7 am – 12am    Sat – Sun: 8 am – 12 am
Links: Aster Cafe Website * Aster Cafe Facebook Page Google Map

Atmosphere: Aster Cafe is located in the popular Riverfront section of St Anthony Main, just across from Hennepin Island Park.  The restaurant itself is in a long space, with a long bar running the length of one wall and tables occupying the remaining space.  Red velvet curtains soften the space around the perimeter of the room, which is dimly lit by pendant lights.
Inside Aster Cafe ~ Minneapolis, MN

Menu:

Small Plates include Soup with Baguette, Chili Lime Garlic Popcorn, Quiche, Charcuterie, Artichoke with Lemon Aioli, Sausages with Pickled Vegetables, Warm Olives with lemon Zest, Duck Pate with Baguette, Warm Spiced Nuts.

Cheese Plates at Aster Cafe include Chevre with Candied Pecans and Dried Cherries, Northern Lights Bleu Cheese with Pear and Walnuts, Brie with Roasted Grapes and Bacon, and Aged Cheddar with Chutney.

Salads include Beet & Avocado, Tuna with Potatoes ad Olives, Pear with Bleu Cheese and Prosciutto, Apple with Aged Cheddar and Candied Pecans, Smoked Trout with Cucumber and Pickled Onions.

Aster Cafe Sandwiches are the Turkey with Apple and Brie, Roast Beef and Mozzarella, Artichoke and Brie, Sopressata with Peppers and Onions, and Curried Egg Salad.

Flatbread Piza options are the Pear with Prosciutto and Chevre, Chorizo with Potato and Queso Fresco, Artichoke with Tomato and Parmesan, Apple with Bacon and Bleu Cheese, and Sopressata with Basil and Mozzarella.

Price guide: Small Plates $4-9   Cheese Plates $4.25  Salads $7-10  Flatbread Pizzas $8.75

What we ordered: Several of my companions ordered the Red Sangria while I had the White Sangria (to be different).  I thought it was decent, but would have preferred the fuller, sweeter flavor of the red.  The drink had several small chunks of liquor-saturated apples (or pears?) that were very strong.

One of the Cheese Plates we ordered was the Northern Lights Bleu Cheese with slices of pear and walnuts.  It was served with a  couple of thin slices of bread that were placed atop a plate drizzled with honey.  The cheese was very pungent and strong, but the sweetness of the honey countered it.  Adding walnuts added just the perfect amount of crunch to compliment the creaminess of the cheese.
Bleu Cheese Pear Plate at Aster Cafe

Bleu Cheese Pear Plate at Aster Cafe

Another Cheese plate we ordered was the Brie, which was served with warm roasted grapes, small bites of bacon, and crustini toast.  This was a winning combination of flavors and textures from the warm brie to the sweet, warm grapes to the crispy, salty bacon.  This plate doesn’t go very far, just enough for about four people to get a small taste.
Brie Bacon & Roasted Grapes Plate at Aster Cafe

The Artichoke and Parmesan Flatbread Pizza was my favorite thing we tried at Aster Cafe.  It was about 10″ and very thin, baked to a beautiful crispy brown.   It was baked with chunks of artichokes, roasted tomatoes and parmesan cheese.   This pizza had a lot of flavor baked into it, very delicious! It was topped with cold, fresh greens, which were a nice contrast to the crispy texture of the flatbread..Artichoke and Parmesan Flatbread Pizza at Aster Cafe.

Artichoke and Parmesan Flatbread Pizza at Aster Cafe

We also tried the Pear and Prosciutto Pizza with Chevre.  This was an interesting combination of ingredients, from the chevre goat cheese to the thinly sliced pear and the sweet, caramelized onions.  The sweetness was welcome opposite the strong taste of the goat cheese.  This pizza is topped with spinach.
Pear and Goat Cheese Flatbread Pizza at Aster Cafe

Pear and Goat Cheese Flatbread Pizza at Aster Cafe

Service: Our server was very attentive to our party of eight lovely ladies.  We took our time ordering while we enjoyed the ambiance of our surroundings.
Overall Impression: Aster Cafe is a cool place to have a glass of wine and appetizers.  The patio has great views of the Mississippi River, making it an excellent place to have lunch and enjoy a nice day.  The menu is quite light and refreshing, I suggest you try the Artichoke Flatbread Pizza!
Aster Cafe on Urbanspoon

  2 Responses to “Aster Cafe ~ Minneapolis, MN”

  1. Cafe Aster came highly recommended. We went and had a terrible time. Our friends wanted to leave before we had even ordered food due to the inattentiveness, lack of customer service, poor communication skills, and lack of accountability from not one, but several staff members.
    One got the feeling, that the customers were there for the sake of the staff (really hard for me to call them servers) and not the other (but usual) way around. Taking orders seemed to be a terrible bother for the staff. Her attitude, kurtness, and body language pretty much spelled: annoying guests!
    “I don’t know, I just work here” would be a fitting motto for the Cafe Aster staff. What a shame! The ambiance is lovely. The food is intereting, even though the appetizer came after the main meal.
    We will not be back. We prefer to spend our time and money, where we are apprciated.

  2. Charming little place, it really is. However, the service is some of the worst I’ve ever experienced. Let me recant my New Year’s Eve story…

    We booked reservations for the NYE show, featuring a local performer whom my wife and I really enjoy. There were two types of reservations available, both limited: standing room only, and seated, which included table seating, four-course meal, and complementary champagne. We opted for the seated reservations. We were told to arrive at 930 sharp, to ensure that the kitchen was prepared.

    We arrived early, with he hopes that we could sit at the bar and start with a glass of wine. We were not allowed to this, however, because the bar was reserved for those who had made standing-room only reservations; odd since our reservation cost 5x the SRO. We were asked to wait outside until we could be seated. Once seated, it took another five minutes to be greeted by our server. We noticed that several other seated reservations had already started on their first course by this time. We placed drink orders, which again took several minutes to arrive. We then made our course choices for the meal. This was the high point of our service, as the server took the time to explain several menu items to us. It went quickly downhill form there.

    Our first course and my second course arrived at the same time by a runner, who dropped the brioche from the soup onto my lap. Apologies were given, and the runner quickly came back with a replacement. After finishing this course(s), we had also finished our first drink. It took another 10 minutes for someone to clear our plates and offer to get us another round of drinks. My wife had to request the complementary champagne, which had been poured for several other tables upon seating. After this, we did not see our server for almost 45 minutes. When they did return, we were informed that our second course would be coming shortly. After another 10 minutes passed, a runner appeared instead with our third course, which was delivered without inquiring if everything was satisfactory. My wife had to call the manager over to inform him that she had not yet received her second course. To be fair, the manager quickly took care of the problem, as we were both given our second course (myself for the 2nd time) in minutes. We had just set down our utensils from the second and third course when our dessert course appeared, without utensils…

    The actual show experience left something to be desired. We had been seated at a table toward the back next to the SRO bar. Because of this, our visibility, even in an intimate venue like this, was on several occasions limited or completely blocked by SRO patrons. (A simple rope divider would have eliminated this problem completely) We also noticed that the tables who were seated closer to the stage were receiving consistently better service, while the tables around us were consistently neglected. After a certain point, patrons obviously without reservations were being allowed into the show and being given service; unacceptable for what was billed as an intimate, private show requiring reservations. Perhaps the most telling incident happened just before the midnight toast. The manager quickly went around to our table and those around us filling champagne for the toast; our server was nowhere to be found, and we overheard several staff discussing that very fact.

    Overall, it was a terrible experience. Competition for NYE business can be fierce, and many establishments offer teriffic promotions to entice patrons. The Aster Cafe failed to meet promised expectations on several levels, most notibly service, leaving us with regret that we chose to spend our NYE there. I would not recommend Aster Cafe to anyone, based on our experiences on an evening when all aspects of the establishment should have been at their best.

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