MSP - Dinner at Heartland
- katebauer Jul 28, 2007 11:08 PM
I couldn't find a good thread about Heartland to add on to so I'm starting a new one to talk about our dinner tonight.
We went with another couple tonight - I ordered a crawfish risotto and the pheasant, my husband had a plum salad and lamb, and our friends each ordered one of the price fix meals. To start, the waitstaff was very friendly and attentive. They were able to adapt one of the meals because our friend to allergic to seafood and able to provide our other pregnant friend just a sip of wine. There were two bread choices - a whole wheat and one that had mustard seeds (grains?) in it. We all though the the bread was like hockey pucks, incredibly tough and hard to eat and not very flavorful at that. The crawfish risotto was made with some kind of hearty grain and was quite nice and light. It didn't taste particularly seafood-ish but was pleasant. The pheasant was disappointing to be honest. I had a great pheasant at Alma a few months ago so was hoping for something similar. This was tough and although juices poured out of it when I cut into it, didn't taste particularly moist. The most significant problem though was the intense pepper flavor. There were a few bites during which I couldn't taste anything but pepper. I would have sent it back if the following few bites weren't slightly better.
Everyone else was satisfied, but not blown away by their meals. They all got a resounding "Eh." The deserts though were spectacular. We had a dark chocolate dessert that was wonderful even though I rarely like dark chocolate and a cheesecake that had corn in it in some magical way that was absolutely the highlight of the evening.
Unfortunately I don't think I'd go back. While it was nice to have a meal that was light and somewhat healthy feeling with all the grains and fresh ingredients, our meals weren't as good as we've had a Alma or Lucia's where I feel like we could get food of a similar vein.
Heartland is definitely worth multiple trips. It doesn't sound like the execution was 100% (hockey pucks, tough intense pepper flavor), but their menu changes with great frequency. Their sourcing is extremely careful - meaning they support local/sustainable/family farms. They also are under appreciated for their level of service and comfortable style. St. Paul needs more restaurants that are independent, chef driven, artistically motivated.
Pheasant has a great degree of variability. The fact that the juices rushed out of the meat indicates that it had not been rested after the cooking process. Waiting a few minutes will change the dynamics and the moisture content. Generally pheasant is tough. Could have been a hen, could have been a rooster.... Might have been an older bird...
This makes me sad, since both dinners I've had at Heartland were absolutely amazing -- the stuff of a list of best meals in my life -- and I sometimes wonder how the restaurant is doing. I don't want it to close. Both times I ordered the pre fixe fauna menu and neither time was pheasant on the menu. The desserts I've had there have been stellar, and the cheese plates particularly memorable for the condiments. They made a sliced plum jam one time that I still think about.
Have you tried the wine bar next door? I haven't yet.
I actually was at the wine bar on Friday night. (pre dinner drink) and had a hockey puck for a roll and the amuse bouche - which was good for the first time in forever.
We used to visit the wine bar side frequently especially if we were looking for a salad, or desert depending on what we had planned for the evening. After a few bleh meals/snacks and some really bad service we stopped going there & switched over to a friendlier (and larger) spot - Il Veso Vino.
It was nice to go back, I love the selection and pricing of the wines by the glass, the location, and the feel of the wine bar. & I've had nice cheese plates there as well.
However, if I had my choice, I'd go to Alma in a heartbeat.
re: St Paul Susie
I felt the same way about Alma vs. Heartland. They have a similar philosophy and price range and I've had much better meals at Alma. I'm certainly willing to give Heartland, especially the wine bar, another shot. It was just disappointing that all the meals at our table were underwhelming.
My past experiences with Alma lead me to the opposite conclusion. My dinners at Alma have been fine, but it is not a place that I pine for or recommend. (I know there are passionate defenders of Alma and I have no bones to pick with them.) I've enjoyed Heartland much more when I've dined there although, alas, I have not been there in a while. I hope things are not heading downhill.