One Girl, Two Cities

Restaurant Week: Kafe 421 & Verdant Tea

kafe10/20: Another round of Restaurant Week kicked off yesterday, and my friend Chuck and I headed to Kafe 421 in Dinkytown. I’ve walked by it several times thinking it seems a little too upscale for collegeville as it has a wine bar feel but that’s also part of the reason I was interested in going. You seat yourself, although that’s not immediately clear so I felt a little awkward at first but things went well after that.The service was friendly and the server checked in regularly but not too much to be bothersome.

I selected the Carrot Ginger Soup which didn’t have an overly strong carrot flavor, and the density made it nice and hardy. I’m not a big soup person, but I would have this one again. The online Restaurant Week menu lists a Butternut Squash Lasagna, but it turned out to be ravioli which was disappointing. I’m a vegetarian; of course I’ve had butternut squash ravioli and it’s usually too sweet for me but I was intrigued by lasagna. Alas, ravioli. On the plus side, Kafe 421’s ravioli isn’t super sweet and the cream sauce is nice and light, quite complementary. Chuck’s Greek Plate looked tasty between the warm Grape Leaves, Spanakopita and zesty Tzatziki Sauce.

For dessert, I went with the Pumpkin Cheesecake and Chuck got the Lemon Parfait. Both were fantastic. Like the soup, the cheesecake didn’t have a strong flavor but it was perfectly creamy and I could’ve eaten the crust on its own. As Chuck said, “It tastes like fall.” The lemon curd in the parfait was super fresh and the pound cake balanced the flavor perfectly. Both desserts were just the right amount as well.

verdanttealogo10/23: Last night my friend Chris from Everyday Tastiness and I had dinner at Verdant Tea and the meal was delicious from start to finish. They offer a $15 three-course dinner for Restaurant Week and it’s well worth it. For an appetizer, I selected the Whiskey Fried Rice which was a little mushy for my liking but I enjoyed the flavor which had a nice hint of whiskey. I ordered the Tyger, Tyger cocktail (High West Rendezvous Rye, Fino Innocente Sherry, Grand Marnier, Wuyi Oolong, Ames honey, saffron and angostura bitters), strong but perfect for sipping throughout the meal. Course 2 brought me the Street Food Omelet, and if I had thought it out better I would have selected a dish that didn’t have rice in it again, but the sriracha was calling my name. Everything was prepared well and tasted fresh, and they used just the right amount of sriracha to add a nice kick.

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I love dessert, and I love chai, so I picked the Chai Affogato which entails Sweet Science Ice Cream and chai concentrate. It was perfect. [Side note: if you haven’t had Sweet Science before, they hold free tastings once a month and bring over 15 flavors of which YOU CAN TRY THEM ALL. Details on the 10/26 tasting are here.] Chris ordered a Kombucha Mimosa which contains Lychee Prohibition Kombucha, orange juice and Paychaud’s bitters. I would totally get this next time I go. It’s fresh and crisp and great for any time of day.

Verdant Tea has so much to offer with their tea alone, but it’s fun for lunch or dinner, and they also host Sweet Science tastings regularly as well as sell it. I like the selection of food they offer and the variety of cocktails and happy hour specials. And it’s even better if you can snag a spot in their parking lot; otherwise there’s plenty of street parking nearby. RedCurrent previously posted an informative article on Verdant Tea which you can find here. If you don’t get a chance to go before Restaurant Week ends, make sure to put it on your list for another time.

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