I used to think that I had only two choices when shopping for clothes: either endure the condescending attitudes of clerks in chi-chi stores where Extra Large means size 12, or head for Polyester Heaven. The Elegant X changed all that. They have been in business for over 30 years, selling only women's clothing in size 14 or larger. They have assembled a collection of high-quality brands that combine fit and style (Eileen Fisher and Vikki Vi are among my personal favorites). The staff is very knowledgeable about the stock, and they can help you pull together an outfit for any occasion. Their clothes are high quality, and priced accordingly, but there are some ways to save. The sale racks are filled with generous discounts; and if you sign up for the mailing list, you'll occasionally get a postcard offering extra savings. Even if you don't live in the western suburbs, The Elegant X is well worth a drive to Wayzata.
PROS: Excellent selection, knowledgeable staff
CONS: Not for every budget
I have not used any hair services at Aveda Institute, so this review will focus mainly on manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages. This is a school, so all the services are performed by students. Becaue they are still learning, and are being checked often by an instructor, most things will take longer than in another salon. If you have your PDA scheduled down to the minute, this might not be the place for you. But if you can relax over a cup of herbal tea, a sandwich, or a bakery treat, you will be rewarded with a better-than-reasonable price for the services. I have found that I need to explain in more detail what I like/want/need (especially when it comes to massage); I can't rely on a fully-trained professional to figure it out for me. Some students have a hesitant touch when doing facials, pedicures, or massage; but they often become more confident throughout the appointment. The schedule is sometimes challenging and unpredictable; appointments are only taken for certain times on certain days, and I have often had to wait for 15-30 minutes after my scheduled time. But the space offers such great people watching that I generally don't mind. This setting is not for everyone; it will never run as smoothly as a salon or spa staffed by fully trained professionals. But if you approach it with a go-with-the-flow attitude, you will thoroughly enjoy it.
PROS: Excellent prices, generally good skill level among students
CONS: Schedule is somewhat random; expect delays.
I frequented Body Mind Connection over a period of about two years when I lived in the St. Louis Park area. During that time, it seemed that there was quite a bit of turnover in the small staff. That was a disappointment in that I prefer to work with someone over a period of time, so that I don't have to explain what I need all over every time I visit. Despite the turnover, however, I always received a competent massage, and some of them were much better than just competent. If you're looking for the frou-frou environment of a luxury day spa, Body Mind Connection might not be for you; but if you want a competent massage at a reasonable price, you will be very happy with them.
PROS: Flexible schedule, well-trained staff
CONS: Staff turnover makes it hard to have continuity
I first met Dr. Joanne Schulman, the founder of Kenwood Pet Clinic, when I adopted two cats from a friend who could no longer keep them. That was over 22 years ago, and I have been a regular client ever since. They combine expertise with compassion in a way that is very reassuring for both pets and owners. My cats' emergencies have been accommodated, even when they have a full schedule. I have never felt rushed, even when I've had a million questions. I have sensed their genuine sorrow when it has been time to euthanize one of my pets, and I have always received a hand-written note of sympathy afterwards. Over the years, I've dealt with several of the doctors in the clinic, and I would feel comfortable entrusting my pet to any of them.
PROS: Very knowledgeable, genuine love for animals
CONS: Might not fit in everyone's budget
You might not have expected to see the words caring and honest in a review of an auto repair shop. But the people at Dunrite have earned both of those adjectives. I have taken my car to them with no better description than, It makes kind of a rrr-rrr-clunk noise, and they have carefully asked me the questions that would allow them to diagnose the problem. On once occasion, the radiator in my well-used car sprang a leak the day before I was supposed to leave on a trip. Despite a fully booked schedule, they found a rebuilt radiator and someone worked extra hours to install it by the next day. They have always been sensitive to my budget, and have been careful to tell me which things I can postpone and which things are urgent. I would have no hesitation in taking a car to Dunrite for service.
PROS: Knowledgeable, honest, flexible
CONS: Only locations are in South Mpls and St. Louis Park
When friends who live in the far-western suburbs told me that they drive across the Cities to Reds Savoy Pizza, I thought, quite frankly, that they were nuts. Until I tasted it; now I think theyre perfectly reasonable.
Reds is anything but fancy. Theres one room that has been nominally divided into a restaurant and a bar. Even with non-smoking regulations, it may be years before the smell of smoke is totally gone. Tables and booths are close together, and the big screen TV sets display the sport of the season, making a generally noisy atmosphere in the whole place.
But Reds is all about pizza, and they do that better than anyone. If you show up on a weekend evening, plan to wait close to an hour for your pizza. The steady stream of people from the door to the cashier are all folks who have called in their carry-out order in advance. Id love to tell you exactly what makes their pizza so good, but Id have trouble deciding between the hand-tossed crust, the nicely spiced sauce, the generous layers of toppings, and the cheese that covers everything.
PROS: It's all about the pizza.
CONS: Minimal off-street parking, crowded, noisy.
Its easy to drive right by Origami without even noticing that its there. But if youre looking for an authentic sushi experience, its worth seeking out. Origami is not the all-you-can-eat kind of sushi restaurant; in fact, it may be one of the more expensive in the Twin Cities. But the sushi is very fresh, the presentation is artistic, and the chefs had no problem with my off-menu request.
If you really appreciate the art of creating sushi, try to get seated at the sushi bar; whenever I sit there, I can get almost hypnotized by the speed and artistry of the chefs. The tables in the rest of the seating areas tend to be small and close together, which has the benefit of letting you sneak a glance at what your neighbors have ordered, to see if you want to order the same thing. Theres also a small-but-comfortable bar upstairs, where youre likely to have to wait on weekends.
PROS: Extremely fresh sushi, masterful chefs.
CONS: Small; may have to wait for seating