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Nov 17, 2009 04:58 AM

Jfood hits Bar La Grassa (MSP) - Top 5

What a great meal. On a Monday night, when most restaurants give the staff the night off, one stellar restaurant was open, alive and full of activity, plus it was serving food that Jfood will describe as brilliantly simplistic with flavors galore. Let’s get this out of the way immediately…Bar La Grassa ranks as one of the best in MSP.

Although Jfood had a reservation for a table as a solo, upon arrival he asked if there was a comfortable bar seat for him to eat and watch the chefs and the table could go to a party larger than 1. The Hostess told Jfood whatever he wanted (absolutely the perfect answer), there was a table awaiting him or he could sit at one of the two bars. He chose the latter and took a prime seat in front of the chefs overlooking the grill. Jfood watched as the chefs prepared the meals and Becker ran the pass with minimal effort. It was interesting to watch the increase in activity from a slow and methodical walk at 630 to a fast and controlled sprint as the orders increased around 800.

Jfood did his research on line so he immediately ordered a big glass of water plus an order of Orecchitte with Braised Rabbit. As the evening progressed he also ordered the Marinated Pork Shoulder Bruschcetta, the Fusilla Col Buco with Pork Sausage, and a slice of Chocolate Torte with Whipped Marscapone for dessert. (For the record, Jfood copied the exact spelling from the web site)

As he waited, the bartender brought a plate of marinated beans, bread (wrapped in a napkin which Jfood appreciates) and butter. The marinated beans should not be overlooked. They were wonderful. Plus the bread was warmed nicely and three nice slices for a single.

The Orecchitte (as spelled on the menu) arrived. It was a nice sized portion with a good amount of meat intertwined amongst the pasta. The pasta itself was not the traditional Orecchiette that can be described as a small “cup.” The Orecchitte was absolutely flat and the size of a fat dime. The texture was still firm and had a nice flavor, Jfood thought it had a nice proportion of semolina. The rabbit was perfectly cooked, moist, flavorful and presented within a wonderful tomato sauce flavored with a small dice of bacon or pancetta. A dish of grated Parmesan cheese (Jfood would have preferred freshly ground) was brought to Jfood and he added a small amount atop. This was a great dish.

Next to be presented was the Fusilla Col Buco with Pork Sausage. Again the portion was a nice sized appetizer. The pasta was perfectly cooked; the flavors of the sauce were a perfect balance to the slices of sausage. The sausage had a nice dense flavor (made in the restaurant) and had a nice bite but not too spicy. Jfood disappointment was the amount of sausage that was included. He thought that the amount of sausage was a bit meagerly and compared to the amount of meat in the other two pasta dishes Jfood hopes it was a mistake versus the amount that is included. Of note was the inclusion of chives in both dishes, this was an interesting flavor in both.

To change direction and after watching the dishes leaving the kitchen, Jfood next ordered the Marinated Pork Shoulder Bruschcetta. This dish included 2 slices of grilled bread with a large mound of marinated pork atop. The pork was wonderfully flavored with a mustard and vinegar sauce. The texture was soft, moist and brilliantly prepared. Each bite was a delicious mixture of differing flavors. Jfood would recommend that you order this dish before the pastas, as the flavors are a better introduction to the latter flavors than the other way around.

Then the big decision came. Should Jfood order another pasta or go for a dessert. He decided that he would go for the latter. The only one that intrigued him was the chocolate torte. This arrived as a rectangle “wedge” with some whipped marscapone on top. The cake was a deep, rich, chocolate mass. There is nothing delicate about the texture, it was very dense. The flavor was wonderfully chocolate and the marscapone added a nice texture balance and flavor balance. Of the four dishes this would have to be Jfood's least favorite, but Mrs. Jfood would love it. Looking at the couple next to him at the bar, the crepes look like the way he would go next time.

Service was spot on. The bartender was friendly, engaging when needed, was available for suggestions (although when Jfood mentioned he was allergic to nuts he suggested a pasta with pine nuts, so Jfood went in a different direction each time, c’est la vie).

Overall, Jfood would return to BLG any time. In fact he may actually go back this week for some more pastas, the scallops looked wonderful and the pork loin also looked like a big winner.

The restaurant link does not work for this restaurant so here is the link to its home page

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    1. Wow...there have been nothing but positive reviews for this place. I guess I'll have to get there some time soon.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BigE

        We may have to squeeze in a visit to BLG this weekend (maybe late night Saturday or Sunday....)

      2. Edited - jfood mispelled "marscapone" instead of mascapone and the BLG web-site spelling of Orecchitte was changed to ORECCHIETTE last night.

        1. Okay, so, now I have to ask: would you list the other four, and, if you so please, rank them? Just curious! Since you brought it up. :).


          8 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Off the top of his head, Jfood would probably include the following in the 5

            1 - Alma (Jfood thinks the best)
            2 - Meritage
            3 - Osteria I Nanni
            4 - 112
            5 - Strip Club
            6 - Saffron

            410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

            1. re: jfood

              Looks like BLG is following up on your editing/spellcheck hints...ahead of time? So, you listed 6 restaurants and BLG is not in the list? what gives?

              1. re: faith

                TDQ asked for "other four", jfood placed six since it depends on his mood. :-))

                1. re: jfood

                  I'm completely comfortable with the concept of there being seven top-five MSP restaurants according to jfood. I'd be sadder if, say, there were only four top-five MSP restaurants according to jfood.

                  However, I'm disappointed to see that Heartland didn't make jfood's list when my experiences there have been consistently excellent including edging out (*gasp*) Alma and completely kicking Strip Club to the curb.

                  Nevertheless, solid list. Thanks for sharing!


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Yeah Jfood struggled with Heartland and Strip Club. He loved the steaks at Strip Club but disliked the sauces (he should have followed his instinct and always eat steak naked). It seemed only fair to include a steak place in a great mid-west town. Likewise Nonni is a little outside the correct zip code but it is worth the drive. And if you remember Heartland was the third restaurant in Jfood's trifecta in September '08 with Alma and 112 in the same week.

                    Placing Heartland in the top 5 is fine with jfood. He has to get there again before the winter sets in too much. He wants to gt to Alma this week and not sure of dinner #4.

                    1. re: jfood

                      We are hoping to hit Sea Change for some late night raw bar chow. If we make it, you will get some feedback. Looks like a great space.

                      Sea Change
                      806 Second Street S., Minneapolis, MN 55415

                      1. re: TonyO

                        Obviously I'll let jfood speak for himself, however after four visits to Sea Change, I am still giving them more chances before I review them and would highly recommend LaGrassa at this point.

                        I will say however that the variety of oysters Sea Change has had have been out of the ordinary for our part of the country and outstanding (no idea about the sauces they come with, I dislike adulterating oysters). The littlenecks are also excellent. Be warned however that the raw bar was not open late night on one visit (nor ever between lunch and dinner) for reasons not offered by the bartender.

                        Sea Change
                        806 Second Street S., Minneapolis, MN 55415