Bar La Grassa
Finally made it there after a couple aborted attemps. I am a believer. I had heard some negative things about their pastas from people whom I really trust but I had more of a Jfood experience. Excellent.
We started with the CRISPY INSALATA SAPOROSO VINAIGRETTE which was an aged balsmaic. I really loved the flavor of this. One of the better starter salads in town. We also had the SEARED SEA SCALLOP, PICKLED TOMATOES with GOAT CHEESE and BEET and AVOCADO with CITRUS. Each was outstanding. There was some sort of pork belly with the scallop that was just an incredible combination. The beet salad had a very distinctive flavor.
I then followed the many recommendations on this board for the next course. SOFT EGGS and LOBSTER, CALAMARATA with RAW TUNA, FUSILLI COL BUCO with PORK SAUSAGE, PAPPARDELLE with VEAL RAGU, and GNOCCHI with CAULIFLOWER and ORANGE. The bruschetta was a home run. Thanks to all that sang its praises. I also loved the pappardelle - my favorite pasta of the night. It just melted in my mouth. I liked the fresh pastas better than the dry pastas. The gnochii was my second favorite and we ordered some more with our main course. The tuna was also outstanding. It had a terrific fresh cilantro and lime flavor. The only noodle I really didn't like was the fusilli. The homemade pork sausage was truely outstanding but the noodle was not great.
For the entree, we ordered the BISTECCA for 4. It was beautiful. a sliced off the bone porterhouse. It reminded me of Peter Lugers a little. Unfortunately, we ordered it medium rare and it came well done. We did not want to wait another 25 minutes so we ordered the Prime NY and some more gnochii which they comped. The NY was nice but probably not as good as the porterhouse.
For dessert we had the crepes since everyone on this board loved them. They were great. We also had the chocolate cake which was nice but did not really stand out.
Just one note about the wine list. Great prices. They had 4 Kistler chardonnays for basically what you would pay for it at the winery. Almost no mark up. There are some bargans to be had. We had a nice young Nebbiolo. It was very warm when they brought it out so I had our server chill it down in aan ice bucket. It made a big difference.
Cannot wait to get back.
Were they able to accommodate?
When we went there week one, we had 12 people. We had an advanced reservation for the group and our group included some of the people who helped with the design/opening, so this wasn't a 'drop in'. They were totally unable to accommodate. They sat us at two round booths - across from each other (12-15 feet apart) like we were two separate groups. It was very awkward and really not ok.
The food and drinks were very good and had a nice time. But didn't seem to be a 'large group' place at all. We were told they couldn't combine tables - since they weren't sure they could time the food to all come out together. Even though we were OK with that (2 waves of food etc) they still would not seat us together. Of course, this is every rest. prerogative. Just don't take groups of 12 for reservations if you can't seat them together.
Went to BLG last night with my sister and brother in law. We loved it.
To start, the bread basket was quite good. Nicely warmed bread with a good soft butter. Simple, but good.
-Bruschetta with soft eggs and lobster - As good as advertised. If I had any complaint, it would be that the eggs were just slightly underdone for my taste. They were beyond moist to the point of being wet and leaving a little puddle on the plate. Still, great flavors and a dish I would order again.
-Cold pork plate with cherry mustarda - Another hit. 3 different pork types on the plate. The most rustic looking of the bunch (looked somewhat like head cheese) was probably the best. Cherry mustarda was a nice addition.
-Taleggio Bigne with braised apple - This came as 4 little cheese pastries with tiny cubes of braised apple underneath. A good dish, but the flavors were underwhelming.
-Torchio with artichoke hearts and mint - What a great combination of flavors this was. The sauce tasted of a simple alfredo, with the mint providing an exceptional flavor lift. Excellent dish.
-Farfalle with sauteed sweetbreads - Probably my favorite dish of the night. The sweetbreads tasted like pieces of italian sausage and, as with the rest of the dishes, the pasta was cooked just right.
-Orecchiette with braised rabbit - I thought this was the weakest of the pasta offerings. The whole dish seemed to lack seasoning.
-Papardelle with veal ragu - This was a great dish. The whole thing reminded me of my mom's lasagna (minus the cheese) and the veal was wonderfully tender.
-Chicken - Another wonderful dish. This (whole) bird came spatchcocked and sliced. Great flavors, super juicy meat. Highly recommended.
Overall, loved the experience and can't wait to go back.
P.S. - What we ordered was more than enough food for 3 people; we ended up taking a few things home. For a single, an appetizer plus a full order of pasta would be a pretty hearty meal.
My wife and I went with the neighbor couple this past Saturday evening. Our respective wedding anniversaries are four days apart, and our dinner reservation was in between those dates. I don't know if the restaurant knowing it was a wedding anniversary dinner had anything do to with the exceptional service we received or not. I'd like to think the restaurant just knows how to do things right.
Let me get the only negative thing out of the way first... Hate the ambience. I'm not sure what this restaurant wants to "be" in terms of image. A large piece of abstract artwork sharing the wall with a black and white photo enlargement of Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash? Pogues blaring on the sound system? Whatever.
We were seated and offered something to drink. I advised that I had called ahead to bring my own wine. The server quickly informed me $25 corkage fee. My wife thought that was a little rude, but I assured her he was just doing his job and letting a customer know just in case the customer was expecting something else. Isaac Becker's restaurants always apply $25/bottle corkage and are inflexible on that. I don't begrudge them that.
Just about everything on the menu looked appealing. We were informed the dray pasta dishes are made with pasta imported from Italy, and the wet pasta is made in house. The Secondi are meant to be shared (there's a steak for 4 priced at $80).
Amuse: Marinated veggies came in a small bowl, with toothpicks skewering huge white beans and smaller cuts of other things. The bread was top notch.
Starters: Our companions had the beet and avocado salad with citrus and the white anchovy with avocado bruschetta. Both were simple in flavor and preparation, and also incredibly tasty. My wife started with the seared sea scallops in a complex-flavored broth (didn't catch the ingredients). I couldn't pass up the soft eggs and lobster bruschetta (scented with truffle oil), which could have been a meal in itself.
Entrees: Our companions had the crab ravioli (yummy) and the pappardelle with veal ragu (I didn't get to taste this, but the person who ordered it raved). My wife had the gnocchi with cauliflower and orage, dusted with red pepper. Second-best gnocchi I've ever had (best = Babbo in NYC). I had the farfalle with sweetbreads flavored with lemon butter. Second best sweetbreads I've ever had (best = Chez Felix in Carmel).
Desserts: There was a caramel crepe thing (called a crispelle), a ricotta cake, a cherry cake, and a chocolate hazelnut cake that we all shared (more on why later). All hits, but the consensus favorite was the crispelle.
Service: I could go into more detail about the food, but I want to emphasize the right things BLG did in terms of service, particularly giving servers on the spot authority to correct what they saw as gaps in service quality.
For example, my wife first ordered the calamarata with raw tuna dry pasta dish. We were later advised the restaurant was out of that, and that the restaurant would comp her a replacement dish. I would never expect to be comped for that. These things happen. But the restaurant proactively did that. Perhaps our server felt he should have known that at the time she ordered.
A second example, the person who ordered the crab ravioli was first mistakenly served a dish of spaghetti carbonara (which looked fabulous, by the way). When she advised that she had ordered the crab ravioli instead, the restaurant fell over itself to get the correct dish out quickly. She had to wait about three minutes. No big deal for us. But our server said that the restaurant would buy us dessert, and that we could order one of every singly dessert item if we wanted.. We decided to just order one per person. But I also ordered two glasses of dessert wine that I might not otherwise have ordered.
Anxious to go back.
Bar La Grassa
800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
re: Brad Ballinger
I took a group of colleagues and customers here a couple of weeks ago - I believe there were 8 of us. We spent a lot of time working through the menu - sharing family style virtually everything on the menu. Highlights for me were the soft eggs and lobster bruschetta and the gnocchi, but really everything was very good. Service was outstanding - everyone raved about the food - definitely a hit.
Bar La Grassa
800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
A grand slam, a home run and a single for jfood last night.
Grand Slam - Gnocchi with cauliflower. It's a how good can it get sorta dish. The gnocchi were perfect, the cauli added such a great flavor and the background of orange made this dish divine. Still an A+
Home Run - Lobster and scrambled egg. What separates this dish from a grand slam was jfood thought the lobster was too salty. The eggs were so perfect he wanted a whole plate for his next course with some of the cured meats. That would be a great breakfast.
Single - The new addition of the wild mushroom stuffed pasta. Jfood felt this needed a lot more work to cuddle up next to the other choices on the menu that so out-best this dish. The mushrooms were great atop the pasta, but the filling was lacking any flavor, the pasta was perfect and it was swimming in butter. Major yawn and disappointment. Jfood thinks this dish needs a few more laps of the improvement process. Likewise, compared to the other pastas, this dish was miniscule. Some pancetta, or another salt element would nudge this idea down a better path.
Service was perfect yet again and this is still one of jfood's top-5 places in MSP.