The latest in a long line of new restaurants to hit the Minneapolis dining scene is Mill Valley Kitchen on the corner of Excelsior and France Avenue in St. Louis Park.  They’ve been open just over a month and I’ve tried the place out twice.  It’s a very nice restaurant and there are three things that I really appreciate about the place:  they list the calories and nutritional breakdown of their menu items including designations for vegan and gluten-free, they use local/sustainable ingredients in most of their food, and contrary to most restaurants, when you look around the room everyone seems to have nutritious, “real” food on their plates.

This is not a place for people who like large portions and the feeling of getting good value for their money.  I think you do get very good value for your buck here, but it’s more in the way of eating nutrient dense food that tastes good in the right sized portion than in the traditional there is a crap-load of food on my plate and it only cost me $9.95.

They have a kid menu and I was impressed with the food they serve the kiddies.  The mac and cheese was homemade and yummy.  The chicken fingers were real, moist pieces of chicken breast, panko-breaded and baked.  The real test is the kids and they both chowed down.  Kid’s meals are served with edamame and fruit; what’s not to love.

Prices are reasonable with most menu items around $10 and most entrees between $15-$20.  This is a place where you can enjoy your meal and feel good about enjoying your meal.  Both times I left pleasantly full, enjoyed my food, and didn’t feel guilty about indulging with either portion size or food selection.

Speaking of indulging, dessert is another nice twist, with desserts served in a shot glass.  Perfect for an individual and at $2.50, not a big ding on the pocket book.  I found service both times to be warm, knowledgeable, attentive, and not over-bearing.

My only complaint about this place isn’t really fair, but it’s my complaint so I’m going to lodge it.  The place is just too perfect.  Everything is pretty and safe and nice and all of the people are the same way; it’s missing an edge.  It feels very suburban, which isn’t inherently bad, but it’s not a place I could fall in love with.  So, I’m very much in like with the Mill Valley Kitchen and I’ll be back, but until things aren’t so pretty and perfect I won’t be able to give it my heart.