Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Little Plates at Cafe Maude - Literally
Now, I know what you are thinking, I'm about to bash the size of the portions. You will not be subject to that rant here. I am well aware of the obesity-friendly portions that are often served in our hibernation-friendly state, but I thought the portion sizes at Cafe Maude http://www.cafemaude.com/ were just fine. That is not my knock. My knock on Maude isn't the service either. I've seen many a review where the critic eludes to the host, service and reservation policy (seriously, just hop on http://www.opentable.com/start.aspx?m=46 or go late on a non-traditional dining night and you'll be able to get in - not so TR-Sat) as rude. Not here. Nope, I've always had a good service experience there.
So here's my knock: The plates are too small. Literally. The dishes, dude. I get that they are an a la carte service. But if I order a side with my entree, where the am I supposed to put it? I recently enjoyed a meal at Maude with several friends. I had the lamb skewers which were awesome - it was great to integrate currants into my diet again after subjecting my system to the typical colon blocking, Minnesotan winter fare . My girlfriend had the Moroccan chicken which was well prepared and very well seasoned - spices/flavor penetrated beyond the skin and was well integrated through the flesh. Here's the issue though. You plop half a chicken (bone in nonetheless!) down on a small plate and where do you put the sides you had to order? Our dinner for six quickly tuned into a dodge ball game of french fries, asparagus and braised greens. Simply put, on the shell prawns and bone in chicken on a tiny plate leaves no room for sides ,let alone any sort of surface to navigate the bones with silver or clean a prawn. I would recommend getting bread plates for the sides, but that would leave zero room on the table if you are normal and enjoy wine/a cocktail with dinner. A water glass, wine glass, entree plates, side plates, and a plate for each individual diner to harbor the side leaves no room whatsoever. The best answer is to get some people you are really comfortable with and be ready to laugh if a french fry rolls onto your neighbors dish or your brother accidentally shovels some asparagus onto your dress pants.
I will say that I've enjoyed my food at Cafe Maude the two times I have dined there (although the warm flat bread I had the first time featured a Goliath portion of dense, flavorless, cold romesco), but solving the table clutter would make this place exceptional in my book. Until then you can catch me every so often at this neighborhood cafe stuffing my face as quickly as possible so we can make room for all the other small plates.