Home for the Holidays


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Home for the HolidaysThere’s no place like home for the holidays. But for those of us who’ve lived away from home for many years, there’s holiday travel to consider: weather, delays, and cramped compartments and cranky travelers carrying bulky coats, bags, and gifts. Upon arrival and hugs and kisses, it dawns on you that you could really go for some hot food, a good drink, continued company with the ones you love, and of course, you need to unload all the stuff you’re carrying. Söntés is calling.

Check your coat at the door, along with the scarf and the gloves. There are fireplaces to toss off the winter chill. Check your boots if you like, and put on the indoor shoes you’re carrying in that extra bag. Check the extra bag, too. Relax and unwind, knowing you don’t have to brave Aunt Elsie’s pot roast for the third day and the suspect deviled eggs, and you don’t have to worry about washing all the dishes and trying to get the spots out of the good cloth napkins. Did you forget to get a gift for that person who has everything? Glance around: the one-of-a-kind artwork on the walls is all for sale. Where else could you shop with a glass of wine in your hand?

This holiday season, enjoy getting together with friends, family, and coworkers-turned-second-family over amazing local food where there’s something for every picky taste. Enjoy conversation while passing dishes like empanadas, chorizo dates, and gourmet cheeses back and forth before diving into lamb as you’re offered a bite of perfectly cooked scallops from the left and a bite of savory local duck breast from the right.

It’s all these little things that Söntés does so well, like offering a complimentary coat closet, a fireplace atmosphere, a knowledgeable staff to pair your wine and take care of all the details so you can let go of holiday stress and enjoy the company around you to the fullest.

This season, come home to Söntés.

Reminder: Please join us this Saturday from 11-2 for our annual Holiday Wine & Spirits Tasting and Sale! Find the perfect complement for your holiday feasts with the help of our sommelier. No need to order, take the wine home with you that same day!

~ Söntés Guest Blogger Jody Brown is a writer, author, poet, and traveler.

Söntés F/WGE Presents: Artists David Allen, Margy Balwierz, and Kathy Braud


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Söntés is pleased to be a fulcrum for our region’s talented artists. The Söntés Fall/Winter Gallery Exhibition showcases an attractive mix of colors, styles, and mediums from eleven hand-chosen artists. This newest exhibition will run through April 1, 2015, and the art will move around as it is sold and the artists bring in new pieces, creating a fluidity of art and ambiance.

In their own words, artists David Allen, Margy Balwierz, and Kathy Braud discuss their work and what inspires them:

David Allen

Allen Don Quixote's Swimming PoolI have been a doodler all my life. I doodle while waiting for an appointment in class or in meetings. I constantly sketch the basic shapes we were instructed to draw as art students. Over the years these shapes have taken on a life of their own. They bend, melt, break apart, fracture and interject themselves into landscapes and rooms.

Several years ago I decided to use these doodles in my paintings and have been pleased with the results. They offer unlimited possibilities and are enjoyable to paint because they seem alive and organic to me.

Margy Balwierz

Balwierz AwarenessI am inspired by the magic of reality, the endeavor of creativity acknowledges the magnificent vibrancy, beauty and complexity of existence… Each effort at tile-making is a gift of absorbed concentration and timelessness.

The unique quality of making one tile at a time feels right to me. Coarse red clay is rolled out and cut. I etch and compose a design to fit within the framework of a nearly dry cut tile shape after one day of drying. The cut may be freeform, shaped or with a randomly lopped off corner. Glazed, each layer of color is laid three coats thick between etch lines with very small paintbrushes. After the clay becomes bone dry, it is high fired to stoneware in an electric kiln. Another glazing and firing to a low temperature adds intensity to colors. The process stretches over three to six weeks.

Kathy Braud

Braud Reflections in Color KBraud 1000px-1For me, Art has been a lifelong journey of creativity… When I realized this medium could capture the essence of a mood, a memory or describe a pleasure, I fell in love with watercolor.

I like to create drama and boldness in my paintings by playing with light and shadows. I enjoy the serendipity of mixing paint on paper, rapid spreading of color, and the use of layering and texture. I am currently exploring a path of light theme with mostly representational art, and I enjoy experimenting with acrylics, watercolor and gouache (watermedia) to capture the advantages of each medium.

For more art and local fare inspiration, stop in to Söntés for lunch or dinner, and feel free to move about the restaurant and take in all of the exceptional artwork. Our dining room is truly never the same twice!

~ Söntés Guest Blogger Jody Brown is a writer, author, poet, and traveler.

That’s What I Like About You


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You know the lyrics from the song by The Romantics:

“That’s what I like about you.
You keep me warm at night.”
Et cetera. That was released in 1979. Now, it’s 2014 and we at Sontes want you to know what we like about YOU, our guests. 
No, you don’t keep us warm at night (for the most part), but you are ADVENTURERS. We keep introducing new dining and embibing experiences and you’re always open to trying new things. 
You’re LOYAL. We love seeing new faces, but it’s so great to be able to create relationships with the folks that keep coming back. We always do our darnedest to remember your preferred flavor profiles, then turn them upside-down and encourage you to broaden your horizons. 
You’re APPRECIATIVE. You enjoy our continued efforts to broaden, expand, and improve every aspect of your dining experience. You usually even say, “Thank you!” to which we reply, “It’s our pleasure!”
You’re BEAUTIFUL. Each in your own way, according to your own style, your own tastes, uniqueness, and individuality – and we appreciate unique individuals around here.

In all, THANK YOU, Sontes guests, for being YOU. You are what makes this whole endeavor so much fun, so fulfilling, and something about which we can feel truly proud!

Unplug and Unwind


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The world keeps changing around us. How can we possibly keep up with everything? Frankly, we can’t. All of the new technology, the latest health and wellness information, fitness fads, what’s good, what’s bad… Let’s face it: it’s beyond overwhelming.
On top of it all, we are inundated in perpetuity with new information. Facebook was too windy, so we found Twitter and lost our patience with 140 characters. Then there was Instagram, which told us, in a single photograph, everything that was missing from our lives. We can download apps to tell us anything we couldn’t possibly need to know and what to do in any scenario. Now, as we try desperately to keep up with all of it, we are glued to our screens. We have the perfect quip for any digital situation, but we forgot the importance of eye contact and a handshake. We no longer call our mothers. We don’t meet to go over papers. We text, we email, and we sign documents digitally. 
I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe it’s time to disconnect from our devices and reconnect with some humans. In person. Maybe over a glass of wine and a shared plate with some live music on a Saturday night. Come see us!
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Come As You Are


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So often, people ask us, “Do you have a dress code?” There is a long answer and a short answer. The short answer is YES. 

The long answer is: we won’t let you in if you’re naked.
Here is a list of acceptable Sontes attire: 
  • Business dress
  • Casual dress
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Sundresses
  • Sandals
  • Pumps
  • Tennis shoes
  • Flip flops
  • Sweat pants
  • Sweatshirts
  • Team jerseys
  • T-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Swim trunks
  • Hula hoops
  • Gym clothes
  • Yoga pants
  • Baggy pants
  • Tight pants
  • Ties
  • Pocket squares
  • Articles of clothing made from bandanas tied together at the ends
  • Hats
  • A garbage bag
  • Halloween costumes, to include scary masks
  • A cape
  • Sarongs
  • A trench coat with nothing under it (providing the sash remains tied)
  • Bowling shirts
  • Long sleeves
  • Short sleeves
  • No sleeves
  • Cut-offs
  • Chaps (but don’t get carried away)
  • Shants (one leg shorts, one leg pants)
  • Helmets
  • Hat and/or helmet hair
  • No hair
  • Big hair
  • Facial hair
  • Potato sacks
  • Bunny slippers
  • Wall clocks on thick chains a la Flava Flav
In other words, Rochester, come as you are. We love you even at your ugliest!
<– To be clear, this is totally acceptable attire for adults and children alike.

We Are Not a Fancy People


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Over the years, we have received a moderate amount of feedback regarding our tablecloths. Yes, world, the Sontes tables do wear white tablecloths – all day, every day. Why would we do such a thing? Is it because we are so fancy? Contrary to popular belief, the answer is a resounding “no!” 

Our tables are clothed for more than simply the sake of appearance. Yes, we do find them pleasing to the eye. And yes, they do have certain elegance about them. The real reason is that it significantly more sanitary than the alternative. Consider this: most restaurants use a cloth soaked in a sanitary solution to wash the tables clean between guests. How many tables has that cloth cleaned? What percentage of bacteria does the solution actually kill? How effectively are the servers or bus people using the cloths? Did they miss a spot? Is that the spot on the table that my 1 year old is sure to lick halfway through his mac & cheese? Is it the spot where I will drop a dollop of house sauerkraut from my Reuben sandwich at lunch? 

I’ll tell you what: when I drop a dollop of ‘kraut on a freshly squeegeed wooden tabletop, I will cry tears of mourning and curse myself for being foolhardy and wasteful. When I drop it on the white linen tablecloth, I will sneak glances right and left, then scoop it off the tablecloth and directly into my mouth with nary a second thought. Why? Because that tablecloth is mine. It’s just a giant napkin, guys and gals. You needn’t fear it. 

…..And seriously, folks, we are just a friendly neighborhood joint with creative food and outstanding service. Stop trying to impress us. We wear jeans on our time off, too.

Mango Rum Pork Chops from Chef Alex


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photoEnjoy your 4th of July barbeque with this recipe from Söntés Head Chef Alex Sjoberg. “This recipe is great for summer because it’s not heavy, creamy, or saucy,” he says. “Pork chops leave you feeling satisfied and yet ready for outdoor activity.”

You can change up the ingredients however you like. But you know how we cook at Söntés: Fresh is always best!

Juice from 2 limes
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey (try local Ames Farm honey)
1 chopped shallot
1 chopped garlic clove
1 chopped jalapeño (seeds removed)
¼ cup Gosling’s Black Seal Bermuda Black Rum (the rum is optional, and is available in Tessa’s Office for about $20/bottle)

Mango Salsa:
1-2 cored, chopped mangoes (or try melon or ½ a pineapple)
Juice from 1 lime
1 diced tomato
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
½ of a small jalapeño, diced
½ of a red onion, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 bone-in, center-cut pork chops (visit Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe for great cuts)

In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients, then transfer them to a lidded container or a large Ziploc bag. Add the pork chops, seal the container, and marinate over night in the refrigerator (or a minimum of 3 hours).

The next day, remove the pork chops from their marinade and grill them over medium-high heat, approximately 8-12 minutes for ¾” thick chops. Turn them over once, halfway through cooking. Pork today is very lean and doesn’t need to be overcooked. Use a meat thermometer if you like: the interior temp should be between 145-160 degrees F.

After removing from heat, let the pork chops rest 10 minutes before plating or slicing into them. (Resting can be done anywhere from 5-10 minutes for this dish.) At Söntés, we have a platform above the grill for resting meat. The heat rising from the grill helps to keep the meat warm, but not hot enough to interfere with the resting process. Resting cooked meat allows the juices inside to settle and redistribute evenly throughout the meat, so that they don’t run out when you slice into the pork chop.

Says Chef Alex, “Those juices are where most of the flavor lies. Resting the meat can feel like an agonizing step when you just want to dive right in, but it’s essential. No slicing before it’s time.”

Finally, arrange the rested chops on a platter and spoon the salsa over them. Serve these alongside your favorite BBQ dishes.photo-2

For an added treat, pair this dish with a bottle of the Drew Pinot Noir ($20), the Landskroon Chenin Blanc ($10), or the New Planet Blonde gluten-free beer ($2/bottle) from Tessa’s Office!


Beginning in July, please welcome Laura Swenson Larson, a former Söntés server many of you will remember, as our Söntés blogger. In true Söntés fashion, Laura was inspired by her time at the restaurant to start her own business, Design Tartare.

Jody Brown
will be headed home to Pittsburgh to write her second novel. She will return from time to time as a guest blogger.

Get In Season: Söntés Is Serving Up Freshness for Summer!


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The season change brings with it a change in our palates as well as great additions now available from our local farmers. To take advantage of the summer freshness, Chef Alex has added four new dishes to our Söntés dinner menu. Here’s the inside scoop on the dishes, as well as Chef’s own thoughts on creating them:

Belly Duo
20140618_145949This new Midwestern Tapas dish combines the rich textures of braised beef belly and braised pork belly with complex flavors of beef jus, jalapenos and pickled onions.

“The flavors work so well together,” says Chef Alex. “I’d been dreaming about doing a combo like this for a while now, and then one of our local producers, Hart Farms, said they could deliver the belly I needed.”

Tessa’s Notes: Try it with the Sotor Pinot Noir

Smoked Chick Pea and Couscous Salad
Mixed greens and frisée with a dash of olive oil and tarragon, mixed with Israeli couscous and topped with chick peas that we smoke in-house.

photo“This dish is a more vegetarian approach to salad,” says Chef Alex. “I tried it on the side of a few plates and everyone loved it. The flavor combination is uncommon. It’s a dish that no one else is making.”

Tessa’s Notes: Try it with the Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier or even the Predator Zinfandel

Roasted Rack of Lamb
20140618_193729With half a rack of lamb served with French green lentils, this entrée is sure to please. Lamb has a wonderful, earthy flavor but is not very heavy on the palate, making it a great summertime dish.

Chef Alex has the lamb brought in from a farm just north of the Cities. “Because it’s so fresh,” he says, “I’m not adding herbs or a spice rub to the meat. I’m letting the lamb speak for itself.”

Tessa’s Notes: Try it with the EOS Petite Syrah

Chocolate Pot de Crème
Chef Alex has added chocolate custard (made with Valrhona French luxury chocolate) topped with Chantilly cream and fresh berries to the Söntés dessert menu.

photo-2“It’s rich, but it won’t weigh you down after eating dinner,” he says. “It’s very summer-approachable.”

Tessa’s Notes: Try it with the Graham’s Natura Porto

Get in season with us at Söntés! Now that you’ve read all about it, stop in and try these fresh, local dishes for yourself. Enjoy them in the air conditioning, or out on the patio!

Fresh. Local. Summer… Söntés.

For more information about blogger Jody Brown, see our Who We Are page.

Paella is Back at Thursdays on First!


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Our little red tent is back at Thursdays on First! We’re serving up our classic dishes: chicken paella, giant empanadas, and Tessa’s signature sangria!

paellaSontes is perfecting the art of gourmet street fare the same way we do it in the restaurant: by starting with fresh, local ingredients. We add in Bomba rice, chicken (with our own spice rub), white wine that gets cooked off, garlic, a little butter, parsley, saffron (which gives it that bright gold color), and bell peppers and onions from the Farmer’s Market. It takes 40 minutes to an hour to make a pan of paella from scratch. The time depends on the wind, as it is truly cooked in the open air. Don’t worry–we always have a backup pan going!

Paella is to Spain what the hot dish is to Minnesota. And at Thursdays on First, we dish up a whole container of paella for you, so it’s easy to eat on the go, or to seal closed and save for dinner.

Alex 2.0In addition to our paella, we’ve got giant empanadas—pies made with flaky, hand-made dough and stuffed with your choice of chorizo sausage, or vegetarian potatoes and cheese. We serve our giant empanadas in a paper sleeve, making them easy to eat with one hand (leaving the other hand free to hold your sangria!).

Tessa’s own secret recipe sangria is always a street favorite! We make it one day in advance, giving the flavor time to marinate. Our red sangria is light and refreshing, with just a touch of cinnamon among the fruit and red wine. Out at our red tent, we also have flavored San Pellegrino water, bottled water, and choice beers. Look for us at the corner of First Street and Third Avenue SW.

If you prefer air conditioning and comfy seating, we’ve got you covered! The restaurant is open for lunch and Happy Hour on Thursdays and every weekday, and we’re open for dinner Monday-Saturday.

And don’t forget: our new wine boutique, Tessa’s Office, is Monday through Saturday starting 11 a.m. (And earlier by request. Call 507.226.7763). Located to the right of our entryway, Tessa’s Office offers specialty liquors, wines, and beer, and an entire wall of wines that are $20 and under! Feel fee to stop in at one of our numerous tastings!

For more information about blogger Jody Brown, see our Who We Are page.

Söntés S/SGE Presents: The Artist Interview (Part 1)


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Continuing the Söntés tradition of community involvement, this year’s Spring/Summer Gallery Exhibition includes the work of thirteen artists who were chosen by application process to showcase their work at Söntés. This is the fourth such exhibition at Söntés, and we’re happy to report that it not only continues to be comprised entirely of regional artists, but also that the application numbers have been increasing every season!

Nearly a hundred pieces of art grace the walls of the restaurant for this Exhibition, which runs through September. Let’s take a moment to get to know three of these artists through their art, their awards, and their own words…

Jody Brown, photography


“I have traveled far and wide, with a poet’s eye, writing and taking pictures along the way. These photographs are from my adventures and are images I call up whenever I need inspiration.”

Of her awards and accolades, Jody’s accomplishments to date have been more for her literary work than for photography. Her first novel, Upside Down Kingdom, was taught by Dr. John Sievers in his humanities course at RCTC its first year in print, and was featured in an episode of KSMQ’s Off90. In 2013, she began writing the blog for Söntés, she received grant funding for work leading to the writing of her second novel, and she was named champion of a poetry slam in Rochester.

Julie Crozier, oil & pastel


“Throughout the years, I have painted in many different styles and mediums, drawing inspiration from my travels, from home life, and from reading about science.”

Of her awards and exhibitions: Julie has shown her work in Wisconsin at the Red Horse Gallery, Art on the Square, the Stockholm Art Fair, and in Minnesota at the Blue Heron Gallery, Lanesboro Arts Center, and Red Wing Art Association. She has been commissioned to reproduce Four Oil Paintings into posters for the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, and has won Best of Show at the Stockholm Art Fair and a Merit Award at the Madison Art Fair.

Scott Dalquist, photography


“My love of nature and travel has brought my photography where it is today. My images allow me to share the beauty of the world as seen through my viewfinder.”

Of his accolades, Scott says that he has only just begun his venture into the world of printing and framing his landscape images. That said, his work was recently exhibited in the Lynnhurst UCC Gallery of Minneapolis from November 2013 to January 10, 2014. Since his transition to digital photography and has made it his focus of his artistic endeavors. He has worked in architecture for 29 years.

The Söntés Spring/Summer Gallery Exhibition runs from though September and all of the artwork is for sale. The next time you dine with us, and every time, feel free to walk about the restaurant and take in the diverse work of these talented artists of our region.

Wander. Absorb. Our house is your house.

For more information about blogger Jody Brown, see our Who We Are page.


Mark Your Calendar for these Upcoming Events!
June 5, 12, 19, & 26: Söntés will be at Thursdays on First!
Every Saturday: Live Music!
Happy Hour Every Weeknight 2-5 p.m.
See the Söntés Happenings page for more information
& watch for future Söntés blog posts
Söntés phone 507.292.1628


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