We were not looking forward to our three hour layover in the Minneapolis airport en route to Phoenix from Des Moines but it turned out to be better than expected. We found a surprisingly good restaurant and decided to splurge since it was a Saturday night and we were stuck in an airport. And by splurge I mean paying $10 for a fancy sandwich with top-notch ingredients as opposed to $5 at Subway. We ate at a wine bar called Surdyk’s Flight in the “airport mall,” which has small plates, sandwiches, salads and paninis served in a sleek alcove with a few booths, each with a flat screen TV showing a movie with the sound off and English subtitles. Our sandwiches were excellent, served on crusty baguettes from what we were told is one of the best bakeries in the twin cities, Rustica. The restaurant itself is an offshoot of a well known wine shop in Minneapolis. (Hence the word “flight” in the restaurant’s name.)
One sandwich was salami with a thick slab of fresh mozzarella, aoili, greens. The other was Applewood turkey with thick slice of Manchego cheese, aoili, quince jam. My husband had one of his favorite beers, Bell’s from Kalamazoo., Michigan. The place even had two of Iowa’s finer products, La Quercia prosciutto and Templeton Rye. We shared a Rustica ginger molasses cookie for dessert and all toll managed to easily kill over an hour at dinner.
On the way back to Des Moines, with another three hours to kill in the Minneapolis airport, we ate at the super sleek Japanese sushi and noodle place Shoyu in Concourse G. The food was really good (and pricey) – we had very crispy chicken and mushroom wontons with cilantro and smoked chili glaze and shared an entree – Tokyo style pork ramen with hard boiled egg , wakame, memma, and togarashi (none of these items were familiar except the egg) and a Rush River Amber Ale from River Falls, Wisconsin. We ordered on an Ipad (not the one I am typing on now) and watched chefs cook in an open kitchen. Brave new world here. The waiter told us the new restaurants in Concourse G are part of the airport’s overhaul last August and some were conceived with the help of well-known Twin Cities chefs. Shoyu, for example, was the offspring of Tanpopo noodle house in St. Paul’s warehouse district.Also in the foodie flyer’s heaven of Concourse G, we found Mimosa, an upscale French restaurant, and Minnibar, a cafe that looked like a set from the Jetsons (serving “globally inspired sandwiches created by Chef Andrew Zimmern). There also is a new high-design upscale “food hall” in Concourse G (and other mini-halls elsewhere) that is markedly different in appearance and offerings from the old-style “food court” that still exists in the airport (along with fast food chain outposts sprinkled here and there including Starbucks, A&W, Subway, Godfather’s Pizza, Quiznos Sub, DQ, Chick-fil-A, Sharro ). While the courts have the usual Chinese and Mexican fast food, the halls are sleek and cleanly designed with little areas selling upscale fro yo, lots of fresh fruit, eccentric assortments of candy (goo goo clusters from Nashville but alas no Hi-Chews, from Japan), cleverly packaged travel items, from nausea pills to backpacks.
Of course we were looking for some humble popcorn after sharing our pricy entree and appetizer at Shoyu. No such luck.