Alma is a cafe-restaurant-hotel in northeast Minneapolis, and they have a vegan option for their prix fixe dinner menu. I’d heard good things from other vegan friends, and my birthday seemed like a good excuse to check it out.
We arrived at 4:30 for our reservation, only to learn we had accidentally made a reservation for the cafe, so we sat at the bar and enjoyed a cocktail until the dining room opened at 5. So there’s your noob tip – make sure you reserve the correct space! On the plus side, cocktails are half off during happy hour (4:30-5:30pm daily).
This light, fresh bread was a nice start to the meal, and it came with a small pour of olive oil. The lighter one is focaccia which melts in your mouth, and the other is sourdough. Once we told the server we were ordering the vegan meal, they automatically asked if we wanted olive oil and said the breads would be vegan. Almost every time I’ve gone to Crave and ordered, the server has inevitably brought out bread and butter without even thinking about it. While I understand that this happens, it just means I’m especially appreciative when it doesn’t.
The first official course was Grilled Plum Salad with arugula and cherry tomatoes. You can see the plums in the top photo; the tomatoes were all buried underneath. When eaten together, the plums helped tame the spicy arugula but there wasn’t quite enough to go around.
The second course was New Potato Salad with (more) arugula, basil-sherry vinaigrette, chorizo summer beans, and wild mushrooms. I don’t know how they prepared the mushrooms, but they were magical and I would have been happy eating a bowl of just mushrooms. They were maybe dehydrated then fried, maybe only fried, but regardless they were crisp and heavenly. The seasoning on the beans was light but flavorful, and the potatoes were cooked perfectly – soft but not mushy. This dish was a nice balance of flavors and textures.
Now for the main course, which I can hardly stop thinking about. The Crispy Saffron Rice was topped with paprika-spiced cauliflower, chickpeas, herbs, and tahini sauce. When I saw the cast iron skillet, I thought, “Sigh, I’ll have to scrape up a bunch of rice that’s stuck to the bottom,” but lo and behold, there was enough oil to lift it right up with no stickage. This resulted in slightly too much oil for my liking, but I loved the crunch of the rice, and there was a slight heat to it that added extra depth to the dish as a whole. I would order this again, no question, and I have some friends who were there the day before me and they also loved it.
There were two dessert options, and I went with the Sorbet Trio. The flavors were listed as pineapple-jasmine, guava-pink peppercorn, and blood orange. Instead of blood orange, I was served coconut sorbet, which was unfortunate because I don’t like pineapple or coconut. The guava was amazing, though! It was packed with flavor, and I wish I could have had three scoops of just that.
The other dessert was Coconut Tapioca Pudding topped with pineapple crisps, toasted coconut, and a scoop of pineapple sorbet. It’s a beautiful dish, and the tapioca pudding had a light and creamy texture.
Overall, I’m completely satisfied with my Alma experience. The food was fun, pretty, and fresh, and the service was excellent. Also, the space is beautiful with lots of natural light. They offer valet parking for $10, but you can typically find easy street parking on University or in the neighborhoods to the north. Add this to the list of special occasion spots!