Dining at Cosmos Restaurant in Minneapolis.

by Fashionista Troy

This past Friday night I took a dear friend out to dinner for his birthday to Cosmos, a swanky dining establishment located on the 4th floor of the Graves Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Before making any reservations, I spent several hours online researching various restaurants, looking for an A-list destination that met my criteria, and I finally selected Cosmos.

Valet was not available that evening (due to a Timberwolves basketball game across the street at the Target Center), so we parked in the Block E ramp. Upon arrival at the entrance of the Graves Hotel, there were no doormen to open the doors. A bit disappointing, but not a major faux pas, I suppose. We went through the trendy lobby (which seemed to have an orangish glow) and asked the woman at the front desk for directions to Cosmos. She politely pointed to the elevator bank and told us to go to the 4th floor. Cosmos is a place that is far off the beaten path. The nearly secretive location makes it feel like an uber-exclusive club – as if only certain people were told its location. We were a part of that select group this evening.

Although we had reservations, we really didn’t need them. At 6:30 the dining room was only about a quarter full. The ambience is modern/luxurious and certainly feels exclusive. It is not gauche or over-ridden with crystal chandeliers and other symbols of excess, rather, the decor exudes an understated elegance that permeates everything at Cosmos - textures and patterns and sounds and reflections all working together to create an upscale yet comfortable atmosphere.

We were seated in a corner leather booth that provided a commanding view of the room for each of us. I imagined this powerseat would be even more enjoyable in a full restaurant. I immediately decided that this would be my new table.

The order
We ordered sparkling water for two and a coffee for me. The Pellegrino Bulgari arrived promptly and was poured for us by an assistant. The server then arrived and presented the drink menu which consisted of a robust selection of wines and some specialty cocktails.

We passed on the wine and went straight for the mixed drinks. I got the Cosmos (Grey Goose, Cointreau, Blood Orange Purée, Citrus & Lime Zest) and my friend ordered the Nicollet Punch, which, incidentally, tasted exactly like an alcohol-infiused sweet tart. Mmmmmm.

While we reviewed the dinner menu, I was still waiting for my coffee. After reminding the waiter about my forgotten brew, he apologized saying he should be sent home for the evening in light of his negligence. I agreed that he should be punished, but maybe not quite that severely. My coffee was delivered shortly thereafter.

The Amuse Bouche, a single serving appetizer consisting of crab and a pineapple chutney, was a clean, fresh combination to introduce the dinner.  (These small dishes were included in the price of the dinner but not indicated on the menu. For our benefit, the server assistant explained each dish when he presented them to us, which was both helpful and educational.)

The dinner
We decided to split two appetizers, the Crispy Shrimp with White Beans, Chorizo and Chermoula and a Mixed Baby Head Lettuce salad with a Cabernet Vinaigrette, Warm Goat Cheese Crouton, and Soft Herbs.

The appetizers arrived already-split from the kitchen, a lovely touch, and came on specialty dishes that were designed for such a purpose. The shrimp were fresh and the flavors unique. The salad, however, seemed a little bland. That is until we realized that the warm goat cheese croutons were never delivered.

We managed to flag down the server and point out this oversight. He was appalled and promptly sent his assistant back with two pieces of toasted bread spread with goat cheese. Now the salad was complete and that missing thing was found.

After our plates were cleared, another palette cleanser was brought to the table. Wow. It was called Intermezzo and consisted of the juice from a blood orange wrapped in an edible membrane, floating in a banana pureé all residing in a shot glass. It looked like a red-yolked raw egg. Slamming the medley of fruits made quite a splash in the mouth.

After we had finished, the plates were cleared, the fresh silver was set, and our entreés arrived. Now I know this is not really orthodox, but we each ordered the same item for dinner, the draw was just too irresistible. Butter Poached Lobster with Lemon Buttermilk Risotto, Peas & Carrots. I don’t order lobster often, and it is one of my favorites, so I just had to get it. And I am glad I did. (And, of course, I would never try to dissuade my guest from ordering what he wanted, especially on his birthday).

The lobster was shelled and included one claw and the tail. It was moist, flavorful and tasted lightly of butter. (No melted butter was served because it did not need it). The slightly lemony risotto was creamy and flavorful – probably the best I have ever had. The peas were dropped over a pea pureé and even the carrot (with greens intact) was perfectly cooked maintaining a bit of a crunch and seasoned to compliment the rest of the entree.

After dinner
After completing the dinner course (we did everything but lick the plates), we were presented with the dessert menu. While reviewing the options, I ordered a Grand Marnier for my friend and an espresso for me. The waiter made a joke about not forgetting my espresso. He didn’t forget it, but he brought me a Grand Marnier, in addition to the one he brought my friend. Not one to say no to an enticing intoxicant, I said nothing and enjoyed it immensely.

The desserts we selected were Panna Cotta and a Chocolate Torte Tray. Each was delivered in a unique serving dish, making each even more special. The fabulous presentation, however, was soon lost as the taste of the desserts was truly divine. My dish included a scoop of pastachio ice cream that was unlike anything I had ever experienced. So unusual, yet appealing. Very hard to explain, but definitely something worth trying. And the Panna Cotta had a soft crunch that dissolved once placed in your mouth. It was served with raspberries and a flavorful iced cream.

The incidentals
The location of the men’s room was not obvious and I had to ask. Once entered, it was exceptionally clean, very well decorated and tres cool. The cloth towels in small custom cubicles near the hand sinks were definitely a nice finishing touch.

The finish
Once we were finished, the bill was promptly presented and taken care of. $200 plus the tip. About what I was expecting for a place of this caliber. Drinking a nice bottle of wine or two could easily add another hundred dollars to this total. The waiter provided us with parking validation, which was especially nice when event parking that evening was $15. FInally, 2 Petit Fours were delivered with a candle, free of charge, to celebrate the birthday of my friend. Now that was a classy touch.

Overall, the experience was phenomenal, the food and the ambience were above reproach, and the service, despite a few mishaps, was friendly, professional and prompt. I will go back to Cosmos and include it in my list of impressive places to dine when I want to impress others, or just myself (as long as I get my table).

Rating: ★★★★½ 4-1/2 out of 5 stars. Would have been a five if there had been doormen upon arrival, I had gotten my coffee promptly, the warm goat cheese croutons had not been forgotten, and if my Grand Marnier had never been delivered (and I am still not convinced that the final error was a negative).

601 1st Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55403


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