Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

A friend of mine very kindly bought me lunch at “Uptown’s iconic bistro,” and — like the total ingrate I am — I’m going to publicly complain about the restaurant from an institutional perspective.

In short: What’s the diglio with Figlio?

My entree (crimini mushroom ravioli) was just fine, but for $14.95 I feel as though I deserve more than noodles in cream sauce. The alternatives, however, ranged from heavy (wood oven pizza) to heavier (mac and cheese) to heaviest (baked ziti). Even the “small plates” are mostly meat (or hamburger) oriented, expensive, and pretty much cool for 1996.

Every aspect of the place — from the waitstaff to the website to the decor — is styled as though it’s crazy awesome. But, do you know what’s legitimately crazy awesome? The tastefully hearty croque monsieur or the $10 happy-hour moulle fritte at Barbette. But that’s just one man’s opinion.

From an informed eater’s perspective, the offerings at Figlio are yesterday’s news. It’s not that it’s timeless classics presented elegantly (which I’m always into)… it just feels like the sort of thing that was considered exciting roughly 10 years ago. Coconut-crusted shrimp? Ahi tuna burger? Greek pizza? Is this fine dining or the frozen-food aisle at Trader Joe’s?

And here’s something else that completely drives me nuts. The Figlio homepage automatically gives you a repeating sample from “Porcelain” by Moby. That’s right: a track off of Play, which was cool for precisely 45 minutes in 1999, before each and every song from the album got sold off to be turned into car commercials. (For the record: I like Play. But the message it sends when it’s your restaurant theme song is: “The kind of person who wants to buy a fully-loaded Volvo and feel cool while doing so is the kind of person who will frequent this eatery.”)

And what’s worse, I just downloaded the new album by El-P. So, as I was playing it with the Figlio page faded into the background of my desktop,
it occurred to me: “What the hell was this guy THINKING when he put this one Moby sample into the background of all his tracks?”

I’m sorry for doubting you, El-P.

8 Comments so far

  1. justin (unregistered) on March 29th, 2007 @ 10:10 am

    Yeah, websites should never make noise, much less music, unless I specifically click something.

    Also, Figlio is, as you say, overrated. Its basically Bucca except for hipsters and yuppies.

  2. James Norton (unregistered) on March 29th, 2007 @ 10:18 am

    I can accept a highly-styled restaurant site playing music unbidden (if it works for your demographic, far be it from me to impose my own stripped-down Web aesthetic on your stuff) but Play… Man. They couldn’t have played into their snarky critics’ hands any more convincingly had they posted a sample of The Black Eyed Peas circa “Let’s Get it Started.” At least that’s hip-hop. Technically.

  3. Erica (unregistered) on March 29th, 2007 @ 11:46 am

    I kinda like Figlio.


    Of course I can always get sweet potato fries at The Herkimer.

  4. Hannah (unregistered) on March 29th, 2007 @ 12:35 pm


    I’m with Erica, although I do agree with your points there…

    The thing that I don’t care for, quite frankly, is the way they pack everyone in with tables that are too close together to have a private conversation. But, I suppose that’s just a trendy-restaurant kinda thing.

  5. Di (unregistered) on March 29th, 2007 @ 1:54 pm

    Figlio’s OK, but there’s definitely better Italian available in the Twin Cities. Al Viente on 34th Ave springs to mind.

  6. Ed Kohler (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 12:19 am

    Their ravioli is pretty tasty with a nice presentation. It makes for a great meal before a romantic walk around an empty mall.

  7. steve (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 10:36 am

    on a good night i prefer Trattoria Da Vinci in st. paul. when i’m feeling adventurous enough to cross the river.

  8. iBran (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 1:56 pm

    Seconding Trattoria da Vinci.

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