We had some nice meals during our vacation this summer, but none finer than the dinner we had at the famous Manny's Steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis. On the Saturday night we were in the Twin Cities, we walked down the street from The Marquette, a block and a half away, to Manny's at the corner of 9th and Marquette (see map).
I had eaten at Manny's a couple times previously, but never at its new location as part of the W - Foshay boutique hotel in the historic Foshay Tower. Originally, Manny's had been in the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis. After 20 years sort of hidden away on the second floor mezzanine at the Hyatt, they moved the restaurant to its new location in 2008. Highly visible and standing majestic at the corner of 9th and Marquette, Manny's has maintained its crown of being the quintessential steakhouse in the Twin Cities. (Manny's also has a location in Miami.)
Manny's continues to be part of the Parasole Restaurant group located in suburban Edina. In addition to Manny's, the holding company also owns and manages restaurants such as Burger Jones (click here to see my entry on Burger Jones), Pittsburgh Blue (Manny's little brother steakhouse that uses the same beef supplier, but is lower in menu cost), Salut Bar Americain, Mozza Mia, Chino Latino and five other establishments. Parasole began in 1977 with the partnership with Phil Roberts and Pete Mihajlov and the opening soon thereafter of Muffaletta in St. Paul. They followed that in 1981 with the opening of Pronto, a Northern Italian restaurant that was one of my all-time favorite Italian restaurants. (Unfortunately, Pronto closed in the mid-to-late 90's.)
Roberts was also the man who started a small chain of local Italian eateries, Buca Little Italy. Five years later, Buca di Beppo was a national chain and spun off into its own entity. It was eventually purchased by the Planet Hollywood International group. Roberts and the Parasole group also developed the Oceanaire Seafood Room, an upscale seafood restaurant with 12 locations across the U.S. Oceanaire was also spun off with Landry's Restaurant Group taking over the management operations.
On the weekend, Manny's can be pretty hard to get into and a few days before we were scheduled to be in Minneapolis, I called up their reservation desk to see if we could get in on the Friday or Saturday night we would be in town. The lady on the other end of the line said, "Well, I have a 5:45 (p.m.) seating and one at 9:30 for Friday night. And it looks like the same for Saturday."
Then she paused and said, "Well, I have an 8:15 opening for seating in the bar on Saturday night."
Knowing Cindy's disdain for eating in the bar at fine restaurants, I sort of went, "Ohhh... the bar, huh?"
She came back and said, "Oh, our bar seating is very nice. The booths are high-backed and very comfortable. You wouldn't be eating at the bar, but in the bar area."
I said, "Absolutely! That sounds wonderful! We'll do that!"
When we showed up at Manny's just before 8:15 on that particular Saturday night, the bar area was packed. There were at least two bachelorette parties and a handful of other people milling about in the host area. We gave the maitre d' our name and he said, "We'll have a table for you shortly." I've heard that before at fine restaurants. They usually want you to run up a nice bar tab before they seat you. But moments later, even before I could even think about getting a drink at the bar, a young lady came up to us and said, "We can seat you now."
She shepherded us through the crowded bar that was packed with people in suits and nice dresses, as well as people in jeans, shorts and polo shirts. Manny's does not have a dress-code and does not look down on people who do come in with shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, like me. We came to a sort of T-intersection with the dining room to the left. She steered us to the right and showed us to a nice large booth with a red and white-checkered table cloth along the west wall of the bar area. It wasn't long before our server for the evening, Allen, came over to greet us.
(Pictured right - Manny's bar area. Photo courtesy Minneapolis.org)
All of Manny's steaks are USDA-certified, dry-aged (with the exception of their tenderloins, which are already pretty darn tender on their own), and center cut by hand. And they're not small either. You can get a 48 oz. double Porterhouse steak for two - or one, if you can eat a steak that big. They have something called the "Bludgeon of Beef" - a 50 oz. bone-in rib eye steak with the long bone still attached. Manny's calls it "part meal - part weapon". None of the steaks on Manny's menu are cheap.
Manny's is also famous for their humongous sides - hash browns that can feed four or five people, huge stalks of steamed asparagus, and their "loaded" mashed potatoes that have bacon bits, chopped green onions, sour cream and cheese mixed in. We saw many sides go by our table that evening that had hardly been dented by people who had ordered them, but couldn't eat because they were so full.
Manny's also has an extensive wine list featuring over 300 bottles of wine in their regular list. They also have a reserve wine list that I've looked through before and it, too, is pretty impressive - with equally impressive - as in HIGH - prices. One wine that I saw on the regular list that I felt was reasonably priced was a bottle of the Dry Creek Meritage. We ordered that when we ordered our dinners.
Presentation is the big thing at Manny's and it's one of the those places where they bring out the meat cart and show you the cuts of meat, fish and the live lobster. Allen brought out the meat cart and explained all the steaks and main entrees they had that evening. After explaining everything to us, including the sides, he handed us menus to look over. They get your mouth watering, then get your eyes bulging by the prices of their steaks. The bone-in tenderloin is $69 bucks, a large (12 oz.) tenderloin filet is $55, as is the 16 oz. New York strip. For funsies, the double porterhouse is $100 dollars and the "Bludgeon of Beef" is $86. Allen truly did have a live lobster on the meat cart - $35 bucks a pound. He said that he had a number of lobsters between 3 and 4 pounds. (Photo courtesy Miami.com)
Even the salads are huge and we decided to order a wedge salad to split. I ordered the 24 oz. bone-in rib eye steak - rare. Cindy got the 8 oz. tenderloin filet - medium. I let Cindy pick out the side to get and she said she didn't know what to get. I said, "How about the garlic creamed spinach?"
She brightened up and said, "That's what I wanted to get, but I thought, 'Naw, he wouldn't want that.' " Actually, I figured that's what she would want, but I really wanted to get the loaded mashed potatoes. But I also knew that would have been a waste of food.
Allen brought out our wedge salad and it was like a half of head of lettuce. The blue cheese dressing was fresh and flavorful with large chunks of bacon bits and a slew of chopped tomatoes on the large, cold and crisp iceberg lettuce wedge. It was a great start to the meal.
Our bottle of wine was half gone by the time the steaks showed up to the table. My rib eye nearly cover the plate. It was marbled and tender to the touch with a fork. When I cut into it, the meat was perfectly rare. The only problem was that there was so much marbling in the meat that a lot of it didn't get cooked out because I wanted it rare. I should have ordered it medium rare because it was a chore to cut through the marbled parts of the steak to get the meat.
Cindy's filet looked small on her plate, but it was still a generous 8 ounces. She cut into it and she said, "Either this knife is really sharp or this steak is really tender." She took a bite and said, "Oh, my God. It's really tender." She simply loved her filet.
The garlic creamed spinach covered the full plate. We knew there was going to be no way we'd be able to finish even a quarter of what was on the plate. And, you know, it was all right. I think Cindy was probably more disappointed in it than I was, but I wasn't expecting much. I didn't get much of a garlic taste within the spinach, which was still a little bitter to my taste buds.
After we finished what we could, Allen asked if we were interested in dessert. I sort of groaned when Cindy said, "Sure, we'll look at the dessert menu." Manny's is famous for their huge Manny's brownie and for their Maker's Mark whiskey bread pudding. Actually, I wanted to try the bread pudding, but I knew that would be way too rich. Cindy decided on getting a slice of the Key Lime pie - with two forks - and a coffee for her. When Allen brought the dessert out, it looked like it was a quarter slice of one pie sitting on the plate. It wasn't the best key lime pie we've had, it tasted a little TOO sweet. I said, "I'm glad I didn't get an espresso because I'm sure I'll be up for awhile with a sugar buzz."
Although it had been probably 8 years since my last visit to Manny's, it was still the same wonderful dining experience as I encountered on my two previous visits. Manny's continues to be a top-rated restaurant on Zagat and many other top-steakhouse lists across America. I liked the new location over the one that was formerly in the Hyatt. Allen's service was efficient and professional, yet he personable and wasn't snobbish in the least. I wouldn't want to eat at Manny's on a regular basis - nor could I afford to. But it was a wonderful treat to end our vacation this past summer.