Mosaic Cafe in Longfellow: a first look

Categories: Sneak Peek

Mo Perry
Mosaic Cafe opened its doors about two weeks ago in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis, near the intersection of Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue, after undergoing quite a makeover from its former incarnation, Glacier's Cafe. Everything on the menu is made from scratch in-house (except for the pastrami), with a focus on hearty salads, sandwiches, and burgers, robust vegetarian and vegan options, and locally sourced, organic meats.

The Hot Dish stopped by for a first look at the new space and menu.

Mo Perry
The restaurant is in an attractive brick building near the bustling Hiawatha/Lake Street intersection, with bright orange and red signage indicative of the cheery, fresh ambiance inside.
Mo Perry
By day, the cafe offers counter service, with helpful and well-informed staff taking orders at the register. They're quick with suggestions and recommendations (stuck between the moonburger and the walnut lentil burger? If you like a little spice, go with the moonburger), and at least while we were there, we didn't feel overly rushed through the decision-making process, as can sometimes happen when you feel the pressure of a line behind you. For dinner, service changes over to tableside.
Mo Perry
The patio is large, sunny, and colorful, boasting a gigantic wall-size mosaic that is the new restaurant's namesake. Cushy patio furniture is interspersed with wrought iron tables and bright umbrellas, creating a welcoming and upbeat space for a summer afternoon.
Mo Perry
The restaurant offers three beers on tap, all by Harriet Brewing, which is directly across the street. It doesn't get more local than that.
Mo Perry
Mosaic offers four large salads and four smaller side salads (which can replace the kettle chips that automatically come with the sandwiches and burgers). We found the Waldorf Salad to be a bit overzealous in the dressing department, though with a slightly lighter touch the buttermilk dressing would be just right.
Mo Perry
French fry lovers with guilty consciences, this one's for you. Mosaic bakes its rosemary garlic fries in a special oven, giving them deep-fryer-worthy crispiness and flavor with a fraction of the fat. They're served with a house-made aioli, with good ol' Heinz also available on request.
Mo Perry
Where Mosaic truly shines is in the burger department. The turkey burger is a nicely seasoned 1/3-pound patty, with plenty of juiciness and no fillers, topped with a generous heap of caramelized onions, a thick slice of tomato, and lettuce so green it looks like it was hand-picked moments before being served, all on a whole grain bun that feels as virtuous as it is satisfying. We subbed in the house-made coleslaw for the kettle chips; it was light and refreshing without being goopy or limp.
Mo Perry
Vegans and vegetarians, listen up. The moonburger is a new contender for the best veggie burger in town. The patty is made from roasted veggies (including poblano peppers, which give it a little kick), black beans, and brown rice, and it spills out over the bun in every direction while still holding its shape. Topped with muenster cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce, and chili lime crema, it is to die for. The Tuscan white bean salad we had on the side added an additional burst of color and fresh flavor.
Mo Perry
One holdover from Glacier's Cafe is the fresh custard on the dessert menu. Mosaic hired pastry chef Kristy Gigerich to enhance the custard offerings with an array of fresh, creative toppings such as fruit loop crunch, brownie bites, maple-glazed popcorn, and caramelized pretzels. The custard flavor the day might be anything from mango to espresso, and a custard flight consists of the standard vanilla, chocolate, and the flavor of the day, along with a few cups of toppings to mix and match.

The service is friendly, and most of the staff hails from general manager Bill Ruff's alma mater, Art Institute. Their enthusiasm for and investment in this new venture is clear. Owner Ben Smith can often be found chatting with diners and circulating among the tables, obviously basking in all the positive changes that have come about with the makeover that Ruff and his mentor, Pat Weber of the Smack Shack, have wrought.

Mosaic Cafe
3019 Minnehaha Ave. S., Minneapolis
612.746.1504; Mosaic Cafe website

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