HERE WAS A PLACE TO LOVE: First Course.
This was for 15 years an intimate neighborhood dining gem in an unassuming storefront deep in the heart of South Minneapolis (5607 Chicago Avenue, three blocks east of Diamond Lake). First Course closed its doors in February 2016. So this is now an archived review of a once-valued Minneapolis neighborhood restaurant.
The highly appealing First Course menu ran to Mediterranean-inflected appetizers, pastas, and fish-or-meat entrees.
At First Course, creative cooking ruled. Friends and I had 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 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 was oddly chic in a minimalist, lounge-y, candlelight-and-black-varnish sort of way. I did try to get a chair instead of one of the hard benches, and I was 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 was never less than an entirely happy experience. This was an understated and generally affordable neighborhood gem that’s all about a nice evening with delicious food … plus a nice wine list—half-price bottles every Tuesday night, and outdoor dining, too. A place I went back to again and again.
New restaurant in First Course location? | Minneapolis restaurant First Course has closed; new restaurant planned