Our family of four had plans to eat out with my sister and her family - her husband and two daughters. We wanted a place that could hold all of us comfortably and would tolerate a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old getting out of their chairs occasionally. Mostly, I didn't want to feel like an afterthought as waitstaff cobbled together a table big enough for our group.
We decided to try Szechuan, a Chinese restaurant in a Roseville strip mall at Snelling Avenue North and County Road B. Our kids always have liked the standard fare of egg rolls and fried wontons there, and we're hooked on the spice and smoke that permeates the traditional Szechuan plates. Plus, the place has giant round tables.
We arrived at 6 p.m. Friday and had to circle the parking lot a couple of times before a spot opened up. Inside, there was one large table available, and it was tucked into a corner, giving the kids an out-of-the-way nook to roam.
The main attraction for the night, though, was the lazy Susan in the middle of the table. Since we planned to order family style, the revolving tray made sharing a lot of hot plates a worry-free endeavor.
After a little menu negotiating, we decided on a couple of bowls of wonton soup ($1.95), General Tso's tofu ($9.95), sesame chicken ($10.95), a spicy fried potato hot pot ($11.95) and crispy duck ($13.95), plus some egg rolls ($1.75 apiece) and cream cheese wontons ($4.50 for six) for the little ones.
The lazy Susan proved to be
The egg rolls disappeared quickly when kids and adults dug in. Same story for the fresh-fried cream cheese wontons. By then, the restaurant was busy and our waiter rushed about, but service didn't falter. He was even able to deftly sidestep our wandering toddlers as he dropped off other dishes.
Our tofu was creamy and sweet - a good twist on the usual chicken rendition. A plate of sesame chicken was covered with tender meat and coated in crisp breading. The potatoes, tossed in a chile-oil sauce alongside lengths of green onions, were served over a live flame and were spicy hot but never burned.
Only the duck, coated with a bronzed, savory-sweet rub, got a so-so reception. Chopped Chinese-style into pieces - bones and all - it was hard to eat and was barely touched.
By the end of dinner, the lazy Susan had become a favorite part of the meal for the kids. Our 2-year-old tried to give it a "Wheel of
We did end up toppling a glass of water as we left the table, and a server quickly stepped up to help us out, without complaint or heavy sigh.
All in all, it was a nice evening, and we agreed we liked Szechuan enough to return. And our family is now thinking of getting our own lazy Susan.
John Brewer can be reached at 651-228-2093.
SZECHUAN CHINESE RESTAURANT
Address: 2193 N. Snelling Ave., Roseville
Phone, website: 651-633-3113, szechuanmn.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Prices: Starters $1.75-$14.95, entrees $9.95-$30.95