American Institute of Architects
At Restaurant Alma, a collaborative effort yields **** results.

It's a restaurant critic's plight. When someone I'm meeting for the first time finds out about the unorthodox way in which I make my living, here's what invariably happens: My brain turns into a download. As the opening credits of "60 Minutes" flash the stopwatch's tick-tick-tick, I count down the seconds--usually it's less than five--before my newfound friend asks, "What's your favorite restaurant?"

I hate to disappoint my new pal, but the answer never waivers: I have not one but many, depending on both my mood and, more important, on who's going to pick up the check. There are, however, several spots that occupy a permanent berth on my hit parade. One of them is Restaurant Alma.

Alma isn't for everyone. The bare tables, the sturdy commodity dinnerware, the wide-open kitchen and the staff's Casual Friday attire are comfortably honest rather than elegant. The deliberately leisurely pace may nudge Type A types into fidgety despair, and the sane portion sizes could send coupon-clippers back to their local all-you-dare-consume buffet. No matter. The word restaurant has its roots in restore, and alma is Spanish for soul. The name fits, like a glove.

-- Rick Nelson Taste/Star Tribune Thursday July 6, 2006 excerpts
Restaurant Alma
Minneapolis, Minnesota

"Simplicity is the mantra at intimate Alma. From the minute I walked in the door, I got the sense that everything had been done with a loving attention to detail... The watchword here is mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, uses the example of eating a tangerine slowly and attentively to teach the importance of being fully present in the moment. It is remarkable just how intensely pleasurable that simple experience can be when you give it your full attention."

--Star Tribune writer Jeremy Iggers in his December 9, 1999 Restaurant Review.

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