Sunday, November 09, 2003

Murray's blog.

Besides the Mall of America, I didn't have much time for a Minneapolis walkabout, what with professional duties a-calling. That may have been just as well, since I came to town in time for the first snow of the 03-04 Snow Season in the Frozen Northcountry. As the plane came in close to the ground, I could see that the ground had been dusted white. But the roads and even the sidewalks were clear. That indicates snow of a non-serious variety, just enough to look interesting. The sort of thing we got in South Texas ever decade or so.

But it was cold enough. Around freezing the whole time. This seemed to astonish the New Yorkers in my party, as if winter-like temps are an impossibility in Minneapolis in November because, well, it never gets this cold in New York in November. Chicago doesn't either, for the most part, but we've all heard of the long Minnesota winters in Chicago. Minneapolis is the place Chicagoans think of as too cold to live.

Had a fine dinner on Monday evening at a place called Murray’s on 6th Street, just north of the bus-only quasi-pedestrian shopping street known as the Nicolett Mall. For such a mainstream place, I refer to the line in Fodor's, that most mainstream of guides: "This third-generation steak house, with its pink linen-covered tables, has been in business since 1946. Silver Butter Knife steaks, hickory-smoked shrimp, and Murray's signature garlic toast are served in a plush atmosphere with piano and violin accompaniment. AE, D, DC, MC, V."

The pianist and violinist probably had Monday off, and I noted that its famed -- according to the restaurant famed -- Silver Butter Knife steaks came in Montana-sized portions for two or three people, at Manhattan prices. No one at my table was game for that, even though most of them worked in Manhattan. I didn't order steak at all, but only because I saw walleye on the menu. Hey, this was Minnesota. I can get a steak in Omaha, next time I go there.

As for the garlic toast, it was certainly memorable. As if someone at Murray's had the sole job of pressing raw garlic into toast-shaped pieces. It was intensely garlicky, that toast. Vampires the world over must speak of it with dread.

Finally, as I was leaving the establishment, I noticed an enlarged, framed comic strip on the wall next to the coat room. It was a Zippy strip, featuring Zippy and Griffy discussing the merits, in true surreal Zippy fashion, of the Silver Butter Knife steak at Murray's. That steak must have caught Bill Griffith's fancy. Can't be many steak houses that can say that Zippy the Pinhead is a fan.


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