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The Flip at Eggflip

I'm probably judging your eggs. It's uncertain how old I was when I first pushed a kitchen chair up to the stove, but standing over a nonstick pan with a spatula was my first foray into cooking outside of my Easy-Bake Oven. Swirling inside was a bright yellow puddle of eggs that would eventually transform into glistening lumps of breakfast gold. This is the way to do it. In my family, dry eggs are generally regarded with a side eye of pity.

Imagine how thrilled I was to find a skyway breakfast sandwich filled with absolutely gorgeously scrambled eggs. Eggflip just opened inside the space I'll forever remember as Taco John's (and conveniently across from Vitality Coffee). The Flip ($12), presumably named for owner Flip Koumalasy, is a hunk of milk bread split and toasted, stuffed with those sunshine-colored eggs, a turkey sausage patty, garnished with bacon, slices of avocado, slice of cheese and a generous drizzle of gochujang-spiked mayo. Each bite hits all the textural notes with crispy, crunchy, tender and gooey. It's a hefty portion, and I admitted defeat long before finishing. But I did reach for a fork and dig out every last bite of those lush scrambled eggs that were possibly better than homemade. (Joy Summers)

601 Marquette Av. S., Suite 208, Mpls., 651-350-8782,

The Tinta Negra at Ena in Minneapolis was a nice way to end the week.
The Tinta Negra at Ena in Minneapolis was a nice way to end the week.

Nicole Hvidsten, Star Tribune

Tinta Negra at Ena

It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to walk up to Hector Ruiz's Ena in south Minneapolis for a late dinner. The charming neighborhood restaurant was warm and welcoming, a fitting way to wind down for the week.

It had been a day, and I could think of no better salve than pasta. A big seafood fan, I landed on the Tinta Negra ($22). Delightfully briny squid-ink pasta was brimming with shrimp and scallops, but Brussels sprouts and hints of fennel got my attention without overpowering. A rich roasted garlic cream sauce enveloped it all. Just when you think it's going to be too rich, a burst of citron oil enters the scene, cutting right through that thought. So good.

Two more shout-outs: Start with the corn fritters, filled with plump kernels and a hint of curry, topped with crisp beer-battered shrimp, a blissful combo of sweet chili sauce and jalapeño aioli, pickled onions and micro cilantro ($18). And tart-cocktail lovers will embrace the Pepinotini ($13), cucumber-infused gin mixed with puckery lime juice and agave syrup, with a sprinkle of black pepper ash for a spirited finish. It was surprising and refreshing. Cheers to spur-of-the-moment decisions! (Nicole Hvidsten)

4601 Grand Av. S., Mpls., 612-824-4441,

Smoked duck leg at Café & Bar Lurcat is among the menu items introduced by new chef Sam Gilman.
Smoked duck leg at Café & Bar Lurcat is among the menu items introduced by new chef Sam Gilman.

Nancy Ngo, Star Tribune

Smoked duck leg at Café and Bar Lurcat

Sometimes when chasing shiny new restaurants, it's easy to overlook the inventiveness happening at long-standing institutions. If you haven't been for a while, it's worth revisiting the storied, chandeliered Café and Bar Lurcat in Minneapolis' Loring Park, which recently welcomed Sam Gilman to lead the kitchen.

Gilman, an alum of Sidebar at Surdyk's, the former Bachelor Farmer and Sooki & Mimi, knows better than to touch longtime favorites. But he's putting his own stamp on the menu with new dishes that play off his philosophy of creating bold flavors with seasonal ingredients.

Of the dishes we tried, the greatest testament to that was the smoked duck leg ($45), wonderfully pull-apart tender, thanks to three days of preparation involving brining, smoking and braising. Buttery foie gras, sweet fennel and sour pickled cherries are a clever trifecta executed with just as much creativity, refinement and attention to detail.

If you're looking for starters, we recommend the light and bright scallop crudo ($22), with an outstanding supporting cast of avocado mousse, carrot-ginger broth and apples. Just as memorable is Gilman's take of corned beef tongue ($23), tender shavings of wagyu drizzled with a sweet onion beef au jus and topped with melted Gruyère on a toasty baguette that gave off French onion soup vibes.

Also highly encouraged is asking Ross, the sommelier, to recommend a pairing or two. We're still waxing poetic over sips of a sweet port-like aperitif (sounds like a digestif, but trust him) that balances the savoriness of the wagyu. In other words, a perfect pairing. (Nancy Ngo)

1624 Harmon Place, Mpls., 612-486-5500,

Fancy chili cheese fries on a Monday night.
Fancy chili cheese fries on a Monday night.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Chili cheese fries at Gus Gus

Our happy hour became happy hours and we were still lapping up the end of the cheese sauce like soup.

It's been two years since Anna Morgan and Kevin Manley opened Gus Gus, and its popularity has only grown. Recently, the two expanded the hours at this neighborhood darling to include Monday nights, and added a daily excuse to cut out of work just a little early. From 4 to 5 p.m., the happy hour menu includes discounted drinks, Aperol spritz Jell-O shots and snacks, including the humbly named chili cheese fries ($8).

Like much of the comfort foods coming out of chef Manley's kitchen, these are both true to name, and more than one would expect. Hot, fresh French fries are topped with white beans and a liquid gold cheese sauce. It's served in a bowl with a spoon — quite possibly the first chili cheese fries to also count as soup. Beany little nubs give the teeth something to chew on before bursting into a creamy texture that melts into the pools of glorious cheese sauce. It's as fun to eat by hand as it is with silverware, and the mountain of fries never dwindles. Just like a great happy hour conversation. (J.S.)

128 N. Cleveland Av., St. Paul, 651-645-4128,

It took us too long to try the shrimp toast at Nightingale.
It took us too long to try the shrimp toast at Nightingale.

Nancy Ngo, Star Tribune

Shrimp toast at Nightingale

Having tried most things on the menu over the years at Nightingale, a go-to neighborhood haunt on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis' Whittier neighborhood, there are only a few items I hadn't gotten around to ordering. One of them was the shrimp toast.

I love the Asian fried snack, but was in no hurry to order it outside of a traditional Chinese or dim sum restaurant. Besides, my usual staples on chef Carrie McCabe-Johnston and Jasha Johnston's starter menu — the deviled eggs with herring roe and mushroom bruschetta — left nothing to be desired. But I was feeling adventurous, and after one bite of the shrimp toast, it was clear I had been missing out. So much so that I wanted to make up for lost time and not share the plate.

But since the shrimp toast ($10 for three pieces) is easily shareable, it was difficult to justify not spreading the joy. Each triangular piece came topped with a puréed shrimp paste with hints of ginger and serrano peppers. And a generous topping of sesame seeds added to the excellent golden crisp when all of that goodness was fried before making its way onto a serving plate.

Between the side of sweet chili sauce and the shrimp toast's flavor bomb of salty, sweet and nutty, you couldn't ask for much more. Except perhaps an extra order for your table. (N.N.)

2551 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-7060,