HERE’S A PLACE TO LOVE: First Course.
This is an intimate neighborhood dining gem in an unassuming storefront deep in the heart of South Minneapolis. Its highly appealing menu runs to Mediterranean-inflected appetizers, pastas, and fish-or-meat entrees.
At First Course, creative cooking rules. Friends and I have many faves, including spicy shrimp tapas ($8), butternut squash ravioli in brandy-and-gorgonzola cream ($15), and the hen-of-the-woods mushroom sandwich (on half-price sandwich-and-pizza nights, every Thursday). I’ve also enjoyed memorable splurges—two that come to mind are delicious scallop and halibut dishes, both prepared with wild mushrooms.
“The little taste of Soho” decor that First Course flaunts is oddly chic in a minimalist, lounge-y, candlelight-and-black-varnish sort of way. I do try to get a chair instead of one of the hard benches, and I’m not at all in love with the long wall of unvarnished plywood. Friendly service, although occasionally the place tilts too far into neighborhood-casual (on more than one occasion, self-declared regulars were permitted to give their kids the run of the place).
On the whole, dining at First Course is never less than an entirely happy experience. This is an understated and generally affordable neighborhood gem that’s all about a nice evening with delicious food … a place I go back to again and again.
Nice wine list—half-price bottles every Tuesday night. Outdoor dining, too.
First Course Bistro | 5607 Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis (three blocks east of Diamond Lake) | 612-825-6900