Spill The Wine is a restaurant in downtown Mpls across the street from the Guthrie theater that I have been wanting to visit for over a year. They just happened to have a groupon of a $50 gift certificate for $25 earlier this week so I jumped at the chance to check this place out on the cheap (well that's what I thought at the time, more on that later). The Man and I made reservations for last night, and I was so very excited. The only time they had available was 7 pm which worked out well for me to get home from work, get dressed a little fancy, and make a nice night of it.
When the night arrived there were a few changes in plans which resulted in the evening being more casual then my original plan. When we arrived I was glad, this is a very nice place, the decor and atmosphere are casual and elegant but most of the clientele were in jeans and tank tops, not the theater crowd or downtown yuppies I had expected. At first everything was lovely, if a little loud due to the high ceilings, the crowd seemed happy and the wait staff was smiling. A couple of notes, the menu is short. Like, 4 entree's short. Of course they have a good wine list, with the wines being well labeled so you can easily choose between a Spanish red or a New Zealand white. There is a short selection of appetizers, a decent selection of salads, a couple of pastas and 4 entree's, none of which are vegetarian friendly. I'm sure if asked the kitchen could do something special for you, but you'll have to find a way to ask. Which brings me to the main problem we found with this restaurant. The service. The hostess and the server were very friendly when they were at our table, however they seemed to be a little understaffed. I can see that they might have been overwhelmed by the sudden business due to the groupon, but most of the people I saw arriving had reservations so I would think they could have called in extra help. Having worked in the restaurant industry for many years I am very sensitive to busy restaurants. I'm happy to wait my turn, and I understand that good food takes longer than cheap food. But, we seemed to wait far too long for simple things like our cheese place and our wine to arrive, and The Man was not happy to have to flag someone down to have his water glass refilled, twice. When our cheese plate did arrived it was dropped by the hostess who didn't stop to describe the cheese's to us. We had no idea if these were locally produced or exotic imported cheeses from France or Italy, which might have justified the $13.00 we paid for 3 teen tiny pieces. The same happened with his wine flight, yes they had one of those lovely papers the glasses go one, but usually they recommend which wine to start with, or at least tell you a little about them. Instead our glasses were dropped at the table by a different waitress who seemed to be a little frustrated that her night had been reduced running other tables orders.
Let's move on to the entrees, which were both amazing. The Man had the steak, served with roasted potatoes and spinach I believe. He loved it, though it was a little overdone for my tastes. He ate every last thing on his plate and felt it was the perfect portion for a good filling meal. I had the lamb ragout as recommended by the server, which came in a bowl with full of sauce, spinach and deliciously chewy gnocchi. It was topped with just a dollop of some kind of cream, which I can't for the life of me remember. My only problem was trying to find all of the lamb mixed in with the mushrooms, gnocchi and sauce, so I could make sure I didn't leave any behind. We skipped dessert because we had ice cream at home. And he wont let me get desserts when we're out any more, the big meanie.
All in all, as much as I loved the food, I probably wont be going back. It wasn't just the service, because our actual waitress was very knowledgeable when she could get to us. It was the cost, even after the $50 gift card our dinner still cost another $60 with the tip. That's just too much for wine that's ok, food that we have to wait for, and website that hasn't been updated with the most current menu (I tried to look up my dish to find out what the cream was, and the item I had isn't on the website). If I'm in the mood for something similar I will stick with First Course, our favorite restaurant in town. They might not have a best website either, but the staff remembered us after the second time we visited, and every Tuesday the wine list is half price.