With a notoriously schizoid tendency to waver between smugness and insecurity about their own attributes, Minnesotans may be genuinely shocked when it finally sinks in that the Dakota ranks among the premier jazz clubs in the known world. It's long been an open secret shared by jazz's elite musicians, nearly all of whom, over the past couple of decades, have graced the Dakota stage in St. Paul and more recently in downtown Minneapolis. The success stems from the enlightened management of Lowell Pickett, who cares deeply about the music and consistently books an exciting blend of musical legends, up-and-comers, local stalwarts, and even youngsters representing the next generation of jazz greats. International artists like Malian Toumani Diabaté and Brazilian Ivan Lins, blues greats like the Holmes Brothers, and a steady post-Katrina stream of characters like Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, and Irvin Mayfield from the other end of the Mississippi have diversified the Dakota's lineup in recent years. Friday and Saturday late-night sessions have opened things up even more. Then there are the outstanding features that we've come to expect from the Dakota: great sound; an intimate, convivial atmosphere that often feels like the band is set up in your living room; and a brilliantly conceived and executed menu. New York, Paris, Timbuktu: The Dakota ranks with the best.
The atmosphere was the only thing decent until the band started. Our waitress was the worst part she was so slow. We saw other waiters and waitresses pass by us several times, however our waitress only did one sweep once every hour. It was an hour after she took her drink orders before we got them. To give a little back story, the restaurant was not even half full. When we gave her our payment it took her an hour to get back to us. The music was horrendous (Sophia Shorai) and you have to pay to see her for $5 it should just be free. When a problem arised on our bill the manager came over and said he couldn't do anything...well I asked for a Grapefruit Refresher and it tasted like flat soda with lemon sour and told him I did not like it and he said he couldn't do anything. The management and maitre'd's were snobby and stuck up like this is the best place in the world and it just isn't the best. My advice go somewhere else to spend your $$$.