Jfood returns to Heidis (MSP)
- jfood Jul 9, 2009 04:27 AM
Jfood was able to make a reservation at Heidi’s last night. It has been a few months since his last visit and he has been unsuccessful in several attempts to return over the last few weeks so he was excited about the prospect to return and enjoy another meal by this inventive chef.
Upon arrival there were several people waiting and Jfood was checked-in. As he waited for his turn to be seated, the host offered him a seat and a glass of wine. That is a very nice touch. Unfortunately Jfood does not drink wine and it might have been a nice touch to offer something non-alcoholic when Jfood told the host he did not drink wine, but he understands that his rejection is probably not the norm. Just a thought for the owner/host to include a non-alcoholic beverage in their welcome package.
What Jfood found interesting was that as he sat for the ten minutes at the front desk he overlooked a 2-top that was vacant. It was not offered to either Jfood or the couple who arrived after Jfood and also sat and waited. Jfood has no idea what that was about. Jfood was brought to the other room and given a very nice table. This room is darker and has much less energy than the main room, but Jfood was there with his book so it was no biggie. If he were to return with Mrs Jfood he would request the main dining room.
The server arrived and over the course of the next hour as Jfood ate his meal, he became more and more impressed with his server. This guy had most of the answers and if he did not he actually went to the kitchen and asked the chef the question and returned with the answer. Outstanding server.
The server brought the menu over, Jfood perused and then the server described the special of the day as well as made recommendations. Jfood accepted two of his recommendations and ordered the Cool sake spiked watermelon soup, poached shrimp, kaffir oil, and crisp taro root for an appetizer and the Onion triple threat, with beef top butt and onion rings for his entrée medium rare.
Bread and butter were delivered and Jfood appreciated the bread arriving in a napkin-envelope. That is a very nice touch. Bad news is that the bread was cold. Jfood never understands why restaurants go to the expense of having good bread only to serve it cold. He gets a brain cramp from such a simple fix.
The soup arrived in two phases simultaneously. The shrimp and vegetables arrived in the soup bowl and the soup itself arrived in a separate vessel and the poured into the bowl on site. The shrimp were nicely molded in a cylinder shape in the middle with very thin julienne of vegetables surrounding the shrimp. You could see the kaffir oil floating on the top of the soup. The juliennes were a combination of watermelon and the taro root, very nicely prepared. The first spoonful was just the soup and Jfood thought it was just watermelon juice. Then he tasted the soup with the shrimp. Interesting combination but nothing over the top exciting. The he took his third spoonful and something was very different. A spiciness attacked Jfood's palate. Wow that was not expected, nothing on the menu gave that indication. He swirled the soup to make sure the ingredients were fully engaged and went back. Yup, there was a distinct spiciness that totally overwhelmed the sweetness of the watermelon. This went from a watermelon soup to a shrimp in a spicy broth. Jfood asked the server what the spiciness was and he was informed that the soup contained both cayenne and ginger. In the end Jfood was not enamored with this combination. Given a blindfold, it would be difficult to name this a watermelon soup when the cayenne is engaged.
The steak arrived. Now think 6-8 ounce filet shaped piece of meat, covered with a deep rich brown sauce surrounded by a very light, pale white sauce with some crispy lightly coated small white onion rings. Wow this looked good. Jfood first tasted the onion rings. These were great. He took a deep breath because he has never ordered or eaten butt steak like this and took his first bit with some of the dark sauce. OMG this was good. The flavor of the meat was dark, rich, and one that you experience with a short rib or hangar part of the steer. Jfood was concerned about the texture but it was similar in texture between a strip and a London broil. Now Jfood moved to including the white sauce as well. This was basically an onion sauce and in combination with the rich brown sauce and the beef, this onion sauce created one of the best combinations of flavors Jfood has eaten. The meat was also perfectly cooked to medium rare. As Jfood told the server at the end of the meal, that dish was tops.
So Jfood's return to Heidi’s was very enjoyable. In both visits he loved certain aspects and was disappointed in others. But the disappointments were on items that the chef was pushing the envelope, which Jfood admires. He will definitely return when the menu changes again to try the inventive cuisine of Heidi’s.
jfood. Nice review. I love the third person. Very impressive. I was just there last night and posted about it. My wife and I had a date scheduled but we ended up taking our 6 year old (which I did not mention in my other post since I did not get to eat any of his food) My 6 year old had the Onion triple threat. He said is was the best food he had ever had. From what I could tell it sort of looked like a filet but I was unable to taste it since he was not in a sharing mood. It looked excellent. He said the sauce was sweet. but very tasty. I think he had an OMG experience as well. How often does that happen when you go out? Great place. Regarding the bread, I really liked it but do agree it could have been warmed.
Also inspired by this review, while it has been on the radar since I moved from Chicago, I cancelled plans Friday night for the Butcher Block and instead went to Heidi's. Having never been, my wife and I arrived about 8:30, an hour early for our res, hoping that there would be a nearby place to have a drink, but we were out of luck. Too bad, we killed a little time in the area, and then came back for our table. It was still mostly full at 9:30, which I feel is always promising. Anyway, service was efficient. We started with the Salmon Springroll amuse, which happened to be the highlight of our meal. Nice clean flavors, good spice building through the dish. I thought it was just a nice honest way to start, something you would expect in a traditional vietnamese restaurant. We split the Garam Masala spiced Yogurt and Foie Gras Brule. It was pretty sweet. I can deal with that. The Foie was in a mousse style, that was caramelized on top, bruleed. The garam masala cake was too potent for this, and you could not even taste the foie when the cake was eaten with it. I ended up scraping the foie layer with the brule crust and just eating that alone. It was great like that, but that was only 1/2 the dish, so a little dissapointed there. For entree, I had the onion triple threat, on the reco, and my wife had a Bone in strip steak with pappardele and asparagus, with a lobster sauce. My steak was cooked perfectly, however, there was no salt or pepper to my meat. The first sauce was an onion and balsamic demi, and it was very sweet. The second sauce was an onion soubise, which was also sweet. The server said it was going to be the counterpoint to the sweeter demi, but it was a little flat. The Fried shallot rings on top were great.
My wife's dish was a little more delicate, and we enjoyed the pasta, a tad soft, but nice. The steak was temped correctly, but again just seemed so underseasoned, or even unseasoned. Also, there was no carmelization on the meat, so it was super bland. I understand letting the ingredients speak for themselves, but a little salt? Or put salt and pepper on the table, and allow your guest the ability to season if they desire. Maybe I missed the point there.
We liked the space. We maybe could have ordered differently. We liked the wine. We liked the price point. We liked the service. We just didn't like the food, except for the amuse, and I really wanted to like this place, but I would prefer to eat great food in an alley off the top of a dumpster, than have the pants charmed off me and just not quite reach that point of...well probably returning. Time will tell, it is so close to the house and there is nothing better than supporting places like that. And it gets so much love in the community, I can't feel but I hit it on an off night. It just shouldn't happen on a saturday.
re: mitch cumstein
Thanks for the feedback and a different perspective on the steak. Interesting in that jfood did not find the darker sauce sweet at all and found the onion sauce with just a tad of sweetness. Likewise he is not a big S&P fan and did not even notice this.
As you not the app did have overwhelming flavors as well.
For jfood he likes the challenge and probably liked the steak a whole lot better than you did. So he will definitely go back. he also noticed Blackbird Cafe a couple of doors down and was wondering if you have ever tried thisplace since you live in the neighborhood.
The dark sauce was incredibly sweet; to the point of surprising me, so that is why I asked what it was. I just moved from Chicago, and it seems to me that the community is super supportive here vs. the cut-throat mentality there. I never know how to approach this when dining. I feel the optimism, and want to be supportive, but I can't will myself to like things. I can applaud misses though, like the app that I had, as a bold move and had a ton of potential, but just fell short in execution. The server said it was a newer item, so hopefully it still evolves and becomes a great dish. It had potential.
On another note, haven't tried Blackbird yet, but I will try soon, and report. My last memorable meal was at craftsman, which was fantastic. I just had a little too much wine to write accurately. I did enjoy the food at First Course, on Chicago and 58th, however the restaurant was so understaffed that it was hard to watch our poor server service nearly a full dining room with 1 support staff and just run around aimless. I could see that eating at the bar would alleviate that issue, since you do seem to dine solo most of the time.
So, I have been in Minneapolis for about 3 months, and my frequency of dining is not great as I have a 2 year old and also am in the foodservice industry.
Side note, jfood, are you an lth'er? Is there no PM function on CH, or am I just too impatient to look for it?
Keep posting...I am going to try to go to the butcher's block tomorrow...Chef Caffari is great, so I am excited.
im lost on lth also, but i believe PM stands for private message, a function which chowhound does not support.
Im not sure where the mods/policy stand on posting email addresses though obviously thats what is done to organize chowdowns and i dont think, but am not sure, that it is prohibited in profiles.
re: mitch cumstein
Minnesotans here may not be cutthroat, but we are masters at damning with faint praise. We are plenty willing to roll our eyes as a celebrity chef goes down in flames (see: Chambers).
That said, Heidi's reputation is based on the food. I would rate my meal there last summer as among the best I've had in Minnesota. Very disappointed to hear about the foie appetizer, but I'll probably wind up trying it anyway.
Heidi's is in my top 3 restaurants in [MSP]... but your comment about not being seated is something I've noticed as a MAJOR issue for patrons on all of my visits. The rule appears to be that unless your entire party is there, they will not seat you (not sure if that's what happened to you, jfood, or not... but everytime I've been there, I've seen this happen).
I've never worked in the restaurant industry, so there is probably a reason for this, but wow; each and every time I see the host refuse to seat people as they wait for the rest of their group, the groans and cries of "this is ridiculous" quickly follow. I always wonder if the food wins them over, or if that'll be their last visit to the restaurant. One couple that I saw tried to explain to the staff that their friends are always a little late, so they like to order their appetizers as they wait, but no luck for them either.
Nevertheless, the food has always made my return visits to Heidi's a worthwhile endeavor... One of the only restaurants that I'll patiently wait for an opportunity to sit down :)
While Heidi's has had some notable glitches at the host stand, this is a reasonable rule. Guests can be remarkably inconsiderate, especially when they are dining in packs. Some scenarios:
1) One couple shows and orders drinks and apps, while waiting for another couple. The other couple reschedules at the last second. The first couple offers its apologies and leaves.
2) A "party of eight" turns out to be one guy and a smattering of friends for whom he overcompensated when making the reso. Suddenly, an eight top is populated by four guest.
3) A "party of eight" turns out to be a rough estimate based on the number of invitations sent out for a dinner party. An eight top is seated, apps and drinks are ordered, when an extra three guests show up. There is no good resolution to this.
4) A large party makes a reservation for 7:30. Most of the guests take that as a suggestion. Suddenly, the restaurant is dealing with various people streaming in and milling about, as the restaurant takes on a club atmosphere. The late arrivals just split an appetizer or have a glass of wine.
Kevin47, your scenarios are all realistic for larger parties. However I think the issue at hand was why a two top was left vacant when there were people waiting, and willing to be seated at it. My first thought, without knowing their reservation practices, is that it was left as insurance against over booking. If this is the case, I would suggest to the host that it would be more appropriate to make that "overflow" table less obvious to those waiting by the door. It would also suggest that they need to get a better handle on reservation management. Woodman's glow isn't going to last forever and Minnesotans are like elephants...and sheep.
Right, I was referring to fetik's post above. There are a variety of valid reasons why a two-top might be open. A couple might have had a reservation, and requested it, for example. Tough to discern on an isolated basis.
Question for jfood, were they comping the wine? This would indicate that Heidi's knew something was amiss. However, I think the wine service at Broders is a nice (if self-serving) touch that helps make up for the enormous inconvenience of waiting for a table.