MSP - Appetite Stimulus Week
So, who's taking advantage of this? Similar to Restaurant Week in the Spring, a bunch of local restaurants are doing 3 course dinner for $35 (some are doing lunches for $24). I'm a sucker for these, as I haven't gone to a lot of the restaurants on the list.
My current reservations are for Nick & Eddie tonight and Forepaugh's tomorrow.
Of course, meal reports will be provided as they become available.
I went to Al Vento to end my week, and I'm glad I did. Everything was excellent; probably the best meal of the week.
First was a simple caesar salad. Very nice, and the dressing actually had a good bit of spice to it...I still can't identify what the spice was.
Second was butternut squash and mascarpone rigatoni. This was a great dish. Great taste, with a nice (but not overpowering) hit of garlic in the sauce.
Third was balsamic glazed short ribs with gorgonzola potatoes and carrots. These were probably the best short ribs I've had in MSP (disclaimer: I've never had the short ribs at I Nonni, or many other places). Incredibly tender, great flavor.
Start to finish, this was one of the best meals I've had in a long time.
I'd highly recommend Al Vento, if you're looking for a great Italian meal in a cozy neighborhood setting.
A friend and I went to Cafe Lurcat and the value was actually really good. I had the Lurcat crabcake to start, the hanger steak as an entree, the potato puree for a veggie, the warm cinnamon sugar doughnuts for dessert and the house red wine. My friend had the apple, cheese, chive salad to start, the hanger steak and brussel sprouts, the dark chocolate profiteroles with salted carmel ice cream and the house red wine. First let me say this was my first trip to Cafe Lurcat and I absolutely LOVE the atmosphere. Very comfortable and cool. The crabcake was a real letdown. Mostly pepper and onion and filler - very little crab. And what crab did exist was shredded, not lumps. I definitely wouldn't order that again. My friend loved her salad and let me try some. It was very tasty. The hanger steak and potatoes were awesome. I'm not a fan of brussel sprouts, but my friend said they were very good. We loved our desserts and for house wine, we were pretty impressed. I'd say we'll definitely be back. Tomorrow night we're giving Masa a try for the first time. We're looking forward to it!
We went to Masa last night and this time my husband came along. My friend and I ordered from the prix fixe menu, while my husband ordered off the regular menu. I had the Queso Fridido as an app, the hanger steak as an entree (the waiter recommended it and despite having it two nights before I couldn't pass it up!), and the tres leche cake for dessert - and the house red. Friend ordered the guacamole for an appetitizer, the pork shoulder as an entree and due to her nut allergies, the waiter graciously let her substitute the churros for the crepes on the menu. Hubby had a soup I don't recall the name of and the braised beef. First let me start by saying we all could have made meals off the chips and salsa to start. The salsas were amazing and the chips were delicious too. I'm not a fan of guacomole, but my friend and husband loved it. Everyone enjoyed their entrees, but I think we all agreed my hanger steak was the best of the three (big props to adorable waiter Matt for the suggestion!). I like spicy food, but my stomach doesn't always agree. The hanger steak was seasoned beautifully, but it wasn't overly spicy in any way. It was tender and just scrumptious. I'd definitely order it again. My friend's churros were warm and delicious, but we also loved the tres leches cake which came with some mango and guava sauces on the side. The sauces made for a pretty presentation, but I don't particularly care for mango or guava, so I could have done without them. The cake alone was good enough for me. We'll definitely be back, but I'll have a hard time ordering anything but the hanger steak in the future... it's difficult to not want that again.
So, appetite stimulus week worked on us. We arrived at the Craftsman last night, looked over the price fix menu and decided we were just going to order off the menu. Way to go open table for finding a way to get us in the door . . .
First i guess i should mention what was on the set menu -
To start there was a chevre and beet terine served with a salad of micro greens. We ordered one of these, thought not as part of the price fix set up, and i thought it was a bit underseasoned though very pretty and served with a couple of nice house-made crackers.
for mains there was a choice between the lamb lasagna or a veggie polenta with winter vegetables.
the dessert which was offered was the brioche bread pudding.
the terrine would have normally have been 7, the polenta 18 and the bread pudding 6, which would seem to make the 35 dollar "special" price not such a good deal. i was too busy enjoying the wine and company to ask the server about this, but in retrospect it doesnt seem like a very good deal at all. am i missing something?
that said, most of the food we ordered was really quite good. we started with the charcuterie plater which i thought was excellent and included both a substantial amount and variety of meaty-deliciousness. rabbit terrine was great, 3 year ham, coppa and sopressata were all excellent. i was a bit underwhelmed by the duck liver pate, thoughe veryone else was quite charmed (it paled in comparison to the heartland version i had about a month ago).
we had the afformentioned terrine and a nice, if simple salad of well dressed, tasty greens with jullienned radishes.
i had the white cheddar harissa and bacon burger which was really good. it ws perfectly cooked and well dressed, could have possibly used a bit more cheese but the balance was there. clealry this is a premium burger with a premium (13 dollar) price tag, but i would definitely say it was worth it. the large pile of super fresh hot fries that came with it were absolutely delicious, and easily compete for some of the best ive had in the twin cities. barbettes are longer, so they may get a slight edge, but these were otherwise just about perfect in doneness, thin but not too thin cut (sorry fat-fry lovers) and seasoning. the accompanying house made chili ketchup was good, but uneccesary on these sublime tots. really my only complaint was that they were on the shorter side.
my dining companions got the bacon-stuffed venison burger and pheasant sandwich both of which got rave reviews (a minor quibble with the excessively large upper bun on the pheasant sandwich which went uneaten) and another had the gnocchi which she said was quite good, even if they suffered from a less than cloud-like texture. i tried one, they were really pretty good, but no Meritage pillows.
dessert was somewhat underwhelming. the bread pudding we shared was good but not great, and the presentation kinda left us all going huh? it was tasty but just a couple finger size slices of brioch with some good, but not revelatory carmel sauce over the top. the affogato with izzy's irish moxie, on the other hand, was excellent.
a final note - they have a sun-thurs promotion with 5 rotating bottles of wine for 19 bucks. we had a really nice Vina Borgia grenache, and there were a couple of other interesting options.
one of us had a Rockies Revenge brown ale which is partially aged in old bourbon barrels, which gave a really interesting finish to this very very tasty beer.
Went to Forepaugh's on Tuesday with four friends.
First off, I love the set up there. Everything is so cozy. Now, to the food.
Their tasting menu consists of: Butternut Squash Soup as a starter, the Pan Seared Walleye as a main, and some sort of dessert that I don't remember (none of us actually ended up getting the tasting menu).
We started with Poutine...always a fun way to get things going. It was pretty good, but that combination will never be breathtaking :)
For the rest of the meal, we all got different things, as usual. For starters, we got the two soups on the menu (butternut squash and grilled corn), the two salads (BLT wedge and Waldorf), and the bacon shrimp. All of these were tasty in their own right. I'm not sure I've ever had a Waldorf before, but I enjoyed this version quite a bit. Ditto for the butternut squash soup.
For mains, we ordered: pan seared walleye, beef wellington, lamb three ways, beef short ribs, and scallops in garlic clam sauce. Of these, I was most impressed by the walleye and the lamb. The walleye was simply prepared, but executed perfectly. The lamb was served with a cut up (house made and cured) lamb sausage, a piece of lamb loin, and a lamb shank 'stew', with a rather large centerpiece of spinach and cheese souffle, polenta and ratatouille. The different lamb types were all excellent. Really good plate overall. The beef short ribs were the last of the 3 that I really enjoyed. Incredibly tender with a great flavor. The scallops were huge, and very tender and nicely cooked, but the clam taste (which I'm not a huge fan of) was overwhelming. Now, onto the Wellington. To continue the trend of 'first time having X', this is the first time I've had a restaurant wellington. I actually made one a few months ago, but that was a slightly different version (my mushroom duxelle never came together, so it never made it into the dish). I'm really hit and miss with mushrooms, and this thing was just overflowing with them. The meat itself was fine, but half the wellington was mushrooms. Also, I don't know if I'm supposed to have a proper steak knife for this dish, but I never got one, so I was cutting it with my butter knife. Needless to say, it ended up looking more like a stew than anything by the end of the meal. Overall, the wellington was a massive letdown for me, and I doubt I'll order it again in a restaurant setting.
Dessert was ginger cake (there was a super chocolatey dish ordered too, but that isn't my thing), and it was very good.
Overall, a really nice meal. Just a let down on the main dish.
Still two nights to go...and I'll be out for at least one of them.
Sausage, loin, stew, spinach, polenta, ratatouille, souffle. Wow. Was there a kitchen sink in there too?
Scallops are bivalves so "clam" taste is appropriate, but it's probably more a matter of freshness. Sometimes they get a funk if they've been sitting and traveling too long. Perfectly fresh they're always delicious.
Ill be at craftsman later this week too - ill agree with everyone that a 24 dollar lunch just doesnt scream bargain to me, and there were some options i would not have taken without seeing the menu. that said, i think its a good idea, but ill note that this same discussion (what a good deal! yes, but i wish they would post the menus) is happening on both the sf and la boards. perhaps if open table is going to do this again they can get a clue and realize people want to see menus.
I'm a sucker for these too, but I'm waiting for menus before we make reservations. I'm a teensy bit fussy and some foodie friends have allergies, so we really need to see menus before making reservations. That said, Nick & Eddie, Forepaugh's and Craftsman are all on our menu request lists. I'll be curious to know what you all think of the choices!
I went to Nick and Eddie last night. There menu is on the main page of their website: http://nickandeddie.com/
I went with two other people, which means we split everything. You also get a free glass of house red or house white to start. We also ordered a bottle of red from Hungary (at the waiter's recommendation), and we enjoyed it quite a bit.
First course is a 'Smorgasbord platter'. That was a fun way to start. You get a pretty good sized platter, and it came with 3 of each of the following: Goat cheese pirogi, Blini with gravlax, potato pancake with smoked whitefish salad, crostini with rock shrimp in a dill dressing, crostini with egg salad, pickled beets, and raw prawns. Quite a nice little tasting tray to start the nice. Of these, the potato pancake and the rock shrimp crostini were probably the winners for me. The pirogi was also excellent.
Second was a small Caesar salad. Simple, but very nice. The dressing was excellent, and the fresh parmigiano was great.
Entree brought a choice of Grilled fish of the day (Mahi Mahi with roasted tomato salsa and sauteed veggies), Spicy steak (with mashed potatoes and collards), or roasted chicken breast (with wild rice, sweet potatoes, and green beans). Of these, I was probably most impressed with the chicken. Simple preparation, but perfectly executed. The wild rice/sweet potato side was also surprisingly good. The other mains were also good. The fish was nicely done, and the veggies (onion, zucchini, tomato) were a nice compliment. The only glitch we had is that my friend's steak was closer to well done than the medium rare he ordered. This was quickly fixed, and the new steak was done to a perfect medium rare. There must have been a miscommunication with the kitchen. The potatoes and collards sat under the steak in a delicious pan sauce.
Desserts were a choice of: butterscotch pudding, ginger cake with caramel and creme fraiche, or a 'chocolate rollup'. The butterscotch pudding was exquisite. Admittedly, my experience with butterscotch pudding doesn't extend too far beyond Snack Pack...but this was just exceptional. It was served in a simple dish with a layer of whipped creme on the top. The taste and consistency were incredible. One of the best desserts I've had in MSP. The ginger cake was also quite good. It is a great autumn dessert. The cake with the caramel is good, but the slight sour taste of the creme fraiche really put it over the top. Excellent. I'm not much of a chocolate guy, so I can't say much about the rollup. It is, essentially, a chocolate crust rolled around a light (very light) vanilla creme, with a melted chocolate drizzled over the top. It looks like it would be super rich, but it isn't. My chocolate loving friends seemed to enjoy it.
Overall, a really great meal. It was sad to see that there was only one other group of diners there the entire time we were there.