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“Wonderful Experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Sanctuary

903 Washington Av. S., Minneapolis, MN (Downtown)
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Ranked #64 of 1,595 Restaurants in Minneapolis
Price range: $31 - $50
Cuisines: American, Mediterranean, Eclectic, Fusion
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cross street: Chicago Avenue
Transit: Washington Avenue buses run in front of Sanctuary. Light rail and other buses stop near the Dome - less than a block South of (behind) Sanctuary.
Description: Sanctuary, with its chandeliers and vaguely gothic ambiance - protected by gargoyles like the sanctuaries of Europe - is elegant, yet comfortable. A fireplace warms cold nights - a patio with flowers and herbs celebrates summer. Sanctuary serves New American Cuisine – delicious, beautiful, out-of-the-ordinary yet satisfying combinations of the familiar with various immigrant touches. Focusing on fresh, local and seasonal, the menu changes every other month, Tasting Menus are served M-Th, Seasonal Specials weekends.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
13 reviews 13 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Wonderful Experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2012

This was our first time at Sanctuary, as we got a gift certificate for the restaurant and decided to use it for our anniverary. A wonderful experience, outstanding staff, very friendly and helpful. We had the 5 course tasting menu and every course was served to perfection and so very tasty. We are already looking forward to our next visit.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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107 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
37 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
“Second choice became a new favorite”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2012

We actually were hoping to get a reservation at a different restaurant the night we dined at Sanctuary, but our first choice was full, so we "settled" for our second choice. It must have been fate, because I can't imagine having had a better meal anywhere else! We started with some delicious, creative cocktails, and the experience only got better from there. The escargot appetizer was incredible, as was everything else that was set in front of us. Our server (I think her name was Jessica) was quite possibly the best server I've had at a restaurant. Not only was she friendly, attentive and professional, but she was so excited and passionate about the food that it really added to our experience. I can't wait to go back!

Visited August 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Poor service, disappointing food”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2012 via mobile

We arrived at 5:30 on a Saturday night, assured this would be plenty of time to make the 7:30 show at the Guthrie (a two minute walk at most). The patio seating was nice, and our server seemed thoughtful and genuine, but these features did not translate into a good experience. Lots of goofs including bringing bottled water but never returning to open it (not a twist-off) or to bring a glass; no bread until we asked (other diners had bread); completely forgot to tell us the specials. Then there was the food: overpriced and nothing special. The heirloom tomato and mozerella salad was OK, but the two hearts of romaine with Caeser dressing and a bit of Parmesan was dull. Entrees: two of us ordered the artichoke hearts and baby squash. To see 4-5 tiny zucchini, 2-3 tiny patty pan squash, and 2 artichoke hearts that seemed to come straight from a can, for $17, was disappointing to say the least. Third diner had the "young hen," which was just a half of a roasted chicken with lots of BBQ sauce poured over it and the "marble potatoes" lost until she discovered them under the "hen." They tried to compensate by bringing us two on-the-house desserts, but we don't really even eat desserts, and by that time we had to ask for the check because we had less than six minutes to get to the theater. At the outset, the waiter talked in detail about how the chef brings new twists from the south of France, but frankly this food had no resemblance to that. The high prices for what you get, poor presentation, slowness when told about our theater plans (and assured about that), and terrible service mean we won't be coming back here.

Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Great highs, slight lows”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 10, 2012

If you're a bit of a foodie and in Minneapolis, do yourself a favor and get to Sanctuary. The menu is different from anything I've ever seen and expertly cooked. To the specifics...

In Minneapolis on business, I'd read some Tripadvisor reviews and thought I'd give the place a try. A slight disappointment was that the 5-course "tasting menu" proved to be a 3-course set menu. There were 5 options but 2 were either/or. The only thing I really fancied from it was the dessert, so I decided to go a la carte. Also, entirely my fault, I picked the "2012" cocktail, Maybe as the drinks menu suggested, the Mayans would love it. I certainly didn't!

I couldn't make up my mind between three, very appetizing starters and asked the waitress for a recommendation. She suggested either the smoked salmon and melon carpaccio or artichoke tarts (which apparently have stayed on the menu for the longest) and I went with the smoked salmon. It was tremendous - really. And before it I had some lovely bread, homemade (slightly runny) humous and brilliant coated almonds.

The Caliornian zin was great by the glass. For a main I picked a certified black angus filet steak with "purple mash", partly for the color of the potato. Sadly the mash wasn't quite as purple as I'd hoped but the filet was probably the best I have ever tasted - end of. I had it "medium rare" and you could have cut it with a butter knife rather than the steak knife I was given. It was absolutely beautiful.

It came to pudding - my favorite course. Sadly this is where I'd say Sanctuary falls down as for me pannacotta or sorbets aren't "proper" puds. They're for people who don't like desserts. As there was nothing at all that whetted my appetite on the main menu, I asked for the key lime pie from the set menu. I was refused!! Point blank. It's extremely odd to come to the States, where I feel standards of customer service are so many streets ahead of the UK there's no comparison, and then be told I can't pick the pudding I want. Instead of sweet, it left a bitter taste in the mouth and I left without ordering anything else except a coffee. All along I expected the waitress to relent and bring my key lime pie out instead, but sadly it didn't happen.

The menu's small but starters and main courses are excellent. The ambience was pretty good. I loved that one of the (quiet) background tracks that came on was Portishead. I was there for work, staying in Downtown, and I like to walk. It wasn't a great walk out there and seemed slightly far out, but maybe that was just me. If I'd been any further away than NE downtown I'd recommend getting a cab.

Apparently the menu changes frequently and the cooking was very good. I'd like to think the key lime might have been great too, but sadly I never found out...

Visited July 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Louisville, Kentucky
Top Contributor
134 reviews 134 reviews
80 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
“Fabulous service- thanks Geneva!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2012

There were 11 of us for a business dinner. The service was impeccable, and food (they support all local suppliers) was delicious. A great drink selection. Convenient to downtown Minneapolis.

Visited June 2012
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