Cafe Brenda

Twin Cities, Minnesota

Reviews

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rating star

Brenda's offers some interesting, tasty food, but nothing spectacular. Prices are a bit high at $12-16 per dish. The service is friendly and the atmosphere is classy; this is a good place to take a date. Vegan options are limited, but they do have some dishes and also vegan desserts.


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This was one of the best vegetarian restaurants I've ever patronized. I was visiting Minneapolis from Seattle (where there is a massive variety of excellent vegetarian and organic restaurants), and wasn't expecting to find anything of this sort. However, after stopping by and having dinner, I have to say that the service was extremely friendly and attentive. The food was also outstanding, and appropriately spiced - very flavorful and fresh. Oftentimes with vegetarian fare you will find that the typical restaurants will use some processed foods that give a distinctive off-flavor, however this was not the case at Cafe Brenda. The waitress informed me that this was due to the fact that they make all of their own product in-house(e.g. mock duck - very good). I'm not sure why some reviewers mention they encountered weak watered down fare, as this was most certainly not what I encountered. The food (vietnamese mock-duck salad) was only lightly salted (thankfully), and was full of flavor. I also had the corsican hummus/red pepper platter was also perfectly done.


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We went there for my birthday. The look the waitress gave us as we ordered our third drink suggested she thought it must have been my 21st birthday (it was 28(! This was my 3rd time at CB's, and the service was just as stuffy as the first two times. Our server was much more attentive to the "older" couple seated next to us.

As for the food... the first word that comes to mind is BLAND. The penne pasta with pesto was doused in a watery lemon-grass sauce, causing all the pesto to fall off. The mango cake was interesting-- far too fragrant! It tasted like the scent of a urinal cake.

I agree with some previous reviews in terms of price. Far overpriced for what you receive. I'm not sure if this is "American" vegetarian, as it seems to be watered down, flavorless veggie fare geared towards carnivores. Skip CB & go get Indian food instead!


rating star

While many people expect this to be a strictly Vegetarian restaurant, it isn't. I admit my rating would be higher if they didn't try and pose as vegetarian - but anyway - the food was decent, though overpriced. We had a tahini pate that was pretty good, and mock duck tacos. Everything tasted fine, but the portions are small for how much you're paying. I've paid for fancy food and felt it was worth it before, but not here.


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I ate here the other night with a few friends and we all absolutely LOVED it!
Their mock duck salad is a MUST, gingery mock duck served with Asian noodles on greens sent flavor shock-waves over my tongue (but not overwhelmingly so).
As an appetizer we ordered the mushroom/pistachio terrine made with tofu and once again it was fabulous.

I'm not sure what the whole fuss is about it not being 100% vegetarian, I mean how many restaurants in meat&potatoes MN are? My understanding is that their goal is more healthy and organic than anything else. Sure they have won Best Vegetarian but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are ONLY vegetarian...

Its a shame that people have misinterpreted City Pages' awards in such a way because Cafe Brenda truly is one of my FAVORITE restaurants in town, and I plan on returning again and again. I hope others will too.


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I went to Cafe Brenda a while back, and was a little disappointed with my dish, but my partner's dish was quite tasty. I was also a little disappointed at what seemed to be difficulty understanding exactly what could be made vegan and what could not. It sort of felt like The Good Earth, but a tiny bit fancier.

I had the Sozai, which was good, but just a little too "granola new age vegan" for me. And way too expensive for the dish. My partner had the mock duck tacos, which were fabulous.

I guess I was expecting more with all the hype of getting "Best Vegetarian" so many times in the City Pages and other local papers, which is strange considering they serve meat.


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They insisted that I make a reservation so I did. I got there with my friend and only one table was being occupied. I thought, "Hmmmm , maybe it'll get busier as the evening goes on." It didn't. I guess it was part of the uppity process in order to eat there.

I can't say the food was downright horrible. I ate a little over half of my entree. I didn't get sick the next day from it. It sufficed. But...I will not go back there. Much too expensive and I can make better food at home!! It was bland. Plus, it's incredibly annoying that it's gotten press as a "Vegetarian" restaurant when it's not. A true vegetarian restaurant would not serve animals as food.

Health conscious omnivores probably love this place, and those are the majority of people who are rating this place as "Best Vegetarian" for City Pages. Too bad they don't know the true definition of "Vegetarian" and too bad City Pages allows it to be put in that category.

Blah.


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My husband and I went to Cafe Brenda last night (12/9/06) and really enjoyed it. As vegans we really appreciate restaurants that have options for us. We don't demand that a menu be completely vegan, but are often disappointed(and saddened) when restaurants offer NOTHING veg friendly. We really liked Cafe Brenda. We had a delicious appetizer, entrees AND dessert. There were 2 soup options I wanted to try also, but there was no more room on my plate or stomach.

We have definitely added this to our list. The atmosphere was lovely and parking was not a problem. Highly recommend it.


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I was pretty disapointed with the "vegetarian/vegan" options. I only saw 2 or 3 dishes that were non-flesh (fish dishes don't count as vegetarian). For being so well known for organic, I would figure they'd offer more vegetarian options. Applebees and Fridays have more options for me than Cafe Brenda!

Health-conscious meat eaters, this place is for you (I ate there several times when I ate meat), vegetarians and vegans, don't waste your time.


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I'd heard of Cafe Brenda for years. It sounded fairly fancy & expensive, so my sweetie & I went there for a birthday meal.

That was a mistake. There was so little suitable for vegans on the menu in the first place. Some local review had raved about the mock duck tacos, so we tried them. They were absolutely dull & too salty. Both of us are keen cooks, so I agreed with his review: "This tastes like something that one of us threw together when the fridge was almost empty." An appetizer plate of hummus & such was also less interesting than we could have tossed together.

The food, atmosphere, and service were bland, bland, bland. Maybe the local papers' reviewers that have called this a good vegetarian restaurant aren't vegan and don't cook much. If I weren't so fond of cooking, maybe I would have been more impressed.

We were, however, impressed by the prices. The bill was much higher than for places around town with far better food & atmosphere, including Udupi Cafe, and Big Bowl.


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I'm a vegan and I liked what I ate. The staff was really nice. The atmosphere was very romantic.


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Is this place a twisted joke?? It's the only "vegetarian" restaurant I've heard of that serves fish and fowl. Please don't go here. Rude waitstaff and no reason to support a "vegetarian" place that serves meat.

Image for Unny Nambudiripad

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The vegan options here are limited, but the waitstaff when I went here were knowledgeable. It's expensive for what you get, but quite good. The only vegan dessert they had was sorbet, but it was fantastic.


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I liked the food and the atmosphere. The vegetarian mock duck taco was really good and there seems to be really unique items to order here.


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I too had to pout after my fancypants birthday dinner because of the lack of vegan entres. The ambiance was fancy-stuffy rather than fancy-cool, the crowd was mid-forties/fifties, and the waitstaff made my date and I feel uncomfortable.
I think this is really a nice fish place for your parents, if that is what you are into.


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This is the sort of place that I take my mom to lunch at when she visits, but it is strictly a lunch sort of restaurant in my book. The vegan sandwiches that they do have on the lunch menu are generally quite good.

Image for Ramona

rating star

There are very very few vegan options here, the atmosphere is way too fancy for my taste, the servers way too snobbish, and the portions way way too small and pricey.

I went there with a bunch of friends for my birthday. They thought it was vegetarian...what a disaster!


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ahh, the ancient riddle, which has tormented humanity's wise sages through the centuries.. are turkeys vegetables? judging by the offerings here, they qualify. these people would get along well with my relatives.. (yeah, it's thanksgiving time again.. time for the annual game of 20 vegetarian questions at the dinner table!)

when i went to Cafe Brenda i had some sort of middle eastern sampler thing, which was about as run-of-the-mill as the prices were run-up-the-bill. the food and the presentation exhibited a sort of half-hearted creativity -- rather like the mediocre service, which was neither rude nor particularly pleasant.

whenever Cafe Brenda comes to mind (which isn't very often), the response in kind is usually: why?


rating star

i hate this lousy place. my parents took me here some years ago, with the impression of it being a "vegetarian" restaurant, and the only thing to eat was the equivalent of a potato pancake for eleven dollars or something, and it wasn't even good. i hope nobody goes to this restaurant, especially newer vegans or vegetarians, as it will leave them feeling pretty discouraged (not to mention hungry!).


I don't really understand why this place always gets voted Best Vegetarian Restaraunt. Most of the menu is fish. There were not very many vegan options at all. What we had was pretty good, but I'm not sure that it was worth the (high) price.

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