Apr 282012

Cuisine: American
Restaurant Features: Patio, Wine Bar
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 2125 4th. Street, White Bear Lake, MN 55110 651-429-9600
Hours: Sun-Thurs 5-9pm  Fri-Sat 5-10pm
Links: Ursula’s Website * Ursula’s on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Ursula’s Wine Bar and Cafe is located on 4th Street in a stand-alone building right next door to the White Bear Bar, just a block west of Hwy 61.  The interior is quite small, with the bar in the middle and seating for roughly 20-30 people at the tables that surround it.  There are several sets of paintings displayed on the wall, all of which are for sale by a local artist.

The bar itself is just a few feet away from the front door and has room for about ten people to sit at.  There is also an outdoor seating area on the deck along the west side of the building.

Menu: The menu at Ursula’s changes monthly, the following is what was offered in April 2012.

Starters include Marinated Olives, Goat Cheese Gratin with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Flatbread Pizza of the Day, Tomato Basil Hummus with Warm Flatbread and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Crab Cakes, Crostini with Roasted Eggplant, Manchego and Pomodoraccio Tomatoes, Mussels, Lamb Skewers with Tzatziki, and Chef’s Selection of 3 Artisan Cheeses with Fruit and Cashews.

Soups and Salads offered are the Soup of the Day, Mixed Greens with Bacon, Tomato and Creamy Basil Dressing, and
Grilled Iceberg with Roasted Fennel and Shaved Carrot topped with Citrus Vinaigrette.

Ursula’s also offers the following Entrees: Pasta of the Day, Fish of the Day, Chicken Breast en Papillote with Carrots, Celery, Onion, Grape Tomatoes and Zucchini with Brown Rice and Lemon Dill Butter Sauce, Chili and Lime Glazed Ribs with Roasted Plantain and Spinach with Cilantro Cream, Hoisin Filet Mignon Medallions with Wasabi Mashed topped with Roasted Pistachios and Chestnuts.
Price guide: Appetizers $5-10 Entrees $16-24
What we ordered: We started with the Lamb Skewers.  The order ($9) came with three skewers that were made with ground lamb meat that was grilled to give it some char.  The skewers were served on a bed of lettuce leaves with Tzatziki sauce for dipping.  These were great! The lamb was moist and well seasoned and the Tzatziki was homemade.

We also tried the Crab Cakes, which came with two in the order ($9).  The crab cakes were also quite good, a thick patty made with sweet crab meat and blended with dill and other seasonings.  There was a pureed rep pepper sauce, as well as lettuce, served on the side.

There are only a couple of entrees to choose from and I ordered the Filet Medallions ($24).  These small, tender cuts of beef were cooked with an Asian-inspired hoisin sauce and topped with slices of roasted chestnuts.  The medallions were served with wasabi mashed potatoes that were great and tasted similar to horseradish, as well as steamed broccoli.  I thought the price was a little steep considering the portion size and the fact that it didn’t come with salad or bread.

My companion ordered the Ribs with Chili Lime Glaze ($18), served with plantains and steamed broccoli.   My companion liked this but I really didn’t care for it.  There were about four ribs in the order and to me  they tasted like they had been boiled in water until all the good natural flavors were leached out. The chili-lime glaze was good but it didn’t provide enough flavor alone, the meat had to be dipped in the cilantro cream sauce (very good!) that was drizzled on the plate.

Service: We arrived at Ursula’s on a weekday, shortly after they opened and it was already pretty busy.  We were told by the bartender to seat ourselves but there was just one table for two left.  Once we sat ourselves it took at least five minutes before we were greeted by our server, who was not the greatest.  I asked about a couple of items on the menu and quickly suspected that she might be new because she didn’t seem very knowledgeable about it.  It also took much longer than necessary to check on us and refill our tiny water glasses, mostly because the server was the only one visible in the entire place.  It took quite awhile to prepare our food as well.  We ordered our appetizers and our entrees at the same time but it took nearly 30 minutes for the entrees to come once we were finished with the first course.  We were ready to get our bill long before we were presented with it, and then the bartender ended up running our card himself, as he could see we were waiting longer than necessary for our server.
Overall Impression: The food was good but the service wasn’t so great.  I had very high expectations for Ursula’s based on recommendations and other reviews I had read, but my experience fell short.  I think the big draw at Ursula’s is the wide selection of wines, with service being secondary.  I won’t be rushing back anytime soon when there are other better comparable-priced restaurants in the area with far better service.
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