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Following twenty years of farmer's markets selling locally grown vegetables, native fruits, and local honey Linda created Marianne's Kitchen in Shoreview, MN, an oasis of good food, conversation and laughter in a suburban food desert. Operating from 2011-2017 the cafe offered home made soups, fresh bread baked daily, great sandwiches and treats and a complete line of gluten-free soups, pickled products, jams, jellies, salsas and locally sourced soups, honey and grains.

The Marianne's Kitchen of sharing, conversation, and learning continues with ongoing commentary, food reviews and food finds as we grow, cook and eat our food and sample local restaurants.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Spring Cafe - St. Paul - Como Park Pavilion

Spring Cafe - St. Paul - Como Park Pavilion

"The terrible horrible no good very bad dining experience"

based on the book title, of course

Spring Cafe ... not fresh or spring-like

spring cafe como pavilion mariannes kitchen st. paul
15 Minute Wait to Order
Beautiful spring evening to the Como Pavilion.   The creation of local 'chef' JD Fratzke and friends...we expected a great fresh experience at this 'chef-driven' venue. 

Well, check that off the list... another future failure at the Como Pavilion (after Dockside which failed, after Black Bear Crossing which was good but evicted by the City).

Why was this a bust?

#1 Reason not to eat at Spring Cafe

We waited in line for 20 minutes to order.  Two cashier stations...1 cashier...on a gorgeous Friday night.   The cashier didn't know the menu.  A manager had to tell her that sandwiches included chips. 

spring cafe como pavilion mariannes kitchen st. paulThe menu includes  grab & go or 'food' from the kitchen.  After 20 minutes in line, we thought grab & go might provide something quicker.

Sandwiches, salads  and 'rolls'  are pre-made.  Recently a 'premade' whole wheat wrap at SIP Coffeebar in NE Mpls was fresh and flavorful with good quality ingredients.  Today at Olive Branch a pre-made wrap was delicious and full of quality ingredients.  Spring Cafe's turkey salad 'roll' was a dry cheap hamburger bun with something smeared on the outside and then wrapped up... a mess to unwrap.  A turkey salad sandwich should be moist.  Here it was not  moist enough to counteract the stale, dry bun.   It crumbled, adding to the overall mess. 

spring cafe como pavilion mariannes kitchen st. paul
Slimy Wilted Veggie Mess
By contrast the Veggie sandwich was very soggy, had un-identifiable veggies drowned in 'sauce'  on a cheap white sub roll.  John ate a bite, opened it up and exclaimed 'inedible.'  This was far, far worse a product than the worst gas station sandwich.  There was no date on the wrapping 'best by mm/dd/yy' but it was clearly dumpster quality when served to us.

We returned the veggie 'sandwich'.  They exchanged it for a 'Cobb salad.'  

spring cafe como pavilion mariannes kitchen st. paul
It Kept Getting Worse
The Cobb salad was 1/4 of a large plastic box of 'ingredients' in small piles.  Approximately a tablespoon each of:  gristly bacon, tiny ham scraps, bagged cheese blend,  gorgonzola???, a thin slice of turkey 'julienned' to give it some 'size' in the box, two tomato slices that were ready to be composted and a handful of lettuce. The lemon vinaigrette was an oily, awful mess.  Then there was the 'egg'; a mealy little pile of bad-tasting diced mystery substance.  I tried some of each and wish I hadn't.  John refused to eat any of it. 

Now, those were the better parts of the experience.

#2 Reason not to eat at the Spring Cafe

Then, we took a look at the kitchen 'expeditor'.   The big, tatted up guy was stuffing food into his face, drinking from an open cup (these are food code violations) wiping his face with his hand, using the unwashed hand to take food from a container and put it onto people's plates and wiping his hands on his pants.  The cycle of food code violations continued:  eat, wipe, plate food, eat, wipe and so on.

That put us over the edge.  We returned everything.  Consumers are paying for  food; restaurants are required to follow the food code.  This is not a TV cooking show where everyone is touching everything barehanded; that's TV.  In real life, bare hands lead to food contamination and food-borne illness.  We've added Spring Cafe to a list of places we won't eat.

The problems were reported to the 'manager' (I think) who made a long-drawn out process out of issuing a refund (maybe) but couldn't give us a receipt.  Spring Cafe can't take orders quickly, serve edible food or run the register...and what you can't see is usually worse.

The only good part.  After we pointed out the too-numerous-to-count critical food violations, the 'expeditor' was disappeared and the 'manager' was now the expeditor.  


  1. Black Bear Crossing was not good.


    1. Black Bear was a step up from SA, maybe. We liked their earlier location, before Como Pavilion. It was at the early evolution of coffee/sandwich places..which now are pretty rare in St. Paul other than the predictable chains.

  2. You lose all credibility when you say Black Bear Crossing was good. That place was an abomination to good food and coffee. It was like a US Foods truck in a coffee shop/cafe form

    1. The food scene has evolved. Black Bear Crossing was OK at the Pavilion (sort of a marginal Panera Bread experience); US Foods is not all bad and that's what most heat and serve places offer. I would have been thrilled to get a US Foods product, actually even a SA sandwich over inedible 'food' we were served at Spring Cafe. The food safety violations were terrible.

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