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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.

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  1. Too bad about the PH but isn;t it a wonderful place? Jfood planning an event for 14 next month. Hoping they can accomodate.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jfood

      LP - Glad you enjoyed the meal. You ordered some of my favorites and I can't wait to go back.

      I'm glad you mentioned the wine list - they have excellent price points and many wines that I've never seen listed!

      1. re: jfood

        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.

        1. re: MSP Flyer


          But jfood decided to head over before everyone was in town.

          The gnocchi with cauliflower and orange was just too good to describe, tops, tops, tops.
          Then had the smoked sweetbreads. Also an outstanding dish.

          Always try to turn defeat into victory.

      2. 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.

        7 Replies
        1. re: BigE

          I hate to sound ignorant, but... how are the eggs cooked on the soft egg and lobster bruschetta? This dish sounds wonderful, but I'm leary of the eggs. Are they like soft boiled, over easy or maybe softly scrambled?

          Thanks for any info.

          1. re: lindainwi

            They're softly scrambled, although much moister and lighter than you'd get at a typical breakfast place.

            1. re: katebauer

              That sounds wonderful. We have reservations this saturday night. having a hard time deciding what to have!

              1. re: lindainwi

                Do a video search for Gordon Ramsay Scrambled Eggs. I believe this would be the same method BLG is using for this dish. Done in a sauce pan with butter, some creme fraiche, constant stirring, and putting on / taking off heat.

                1. re: semanticantics

                  I was leary too, so we didn't get it, but the table next to us did. I think that the next time I'll go for it. Softer than I would ever make for myself, but still looked appetizing not runny.

                  1. re: semanticantics

                    Part way down this page is a recipe for the eggs. There is a lot of cream cheese and butter involved. :-)

                    1. re: semanticantics

                      That video changed my life. I used to despise eggs in all forms, but since I saw that video, I've been making eggs that way multiple times a week.

                      Just made them an hour ago, actually. :)


            2. Currently waiting for Bar La Grassa to opens because I NEED some gnocchi. Delicious!

              1. 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

                2 Replies
                1. re: Brad Ballinger

                  I knew I should have done Bar La Grassa instead of 112

                  Bar La Grassa
                  800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                  1. 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

                  2. 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.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jfood

                      RE: salty. The one thing I forgot to mention in my experiences is that we order a side of the Bagna Causa Cauliflower (breaded, grilled I think). Anyway, we all thought whoever prepared ours was heavy-handed with the salt. Minor glitch given how great the rest of our food was.

                    2. Dined here again tonight. They've got some new menu items. The lamb chops are awesome! Done super rare, which I know scares the begeezus out of some people, but hubby, MIL and I all thought they were great!

                      1. FYI...jfood wandered over for a quick dinner tonight.

                        The soft egg and lobster was again divine and he really liked the polenta. But, the sausages were not to his liking and are not in the same class as the rest of what jfood has eaten.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jfood

                          Oh my husband would strongly disagree with you on that review jfood. The sausages are one of his favorite things at BLG. I think you have to like sausage to really appreciate them though. I'm not a huge sausage fan, so I'd gladly take the lamb chops (or almost anything else) over the sausage any day.

                        2. Popped in for a visit this weekend. It remains difficult to get a reservation. Ten days in advance for a Friday @ 5.

                          The space is simple, and energetic. BLG takes a page from the Parasole book and gives short shrift to dining couples. I was seated by a pillar. A veritable cadre of staff reside by the open-air kitchen, which is a bit distracting.

                          The service was informal and unpretentious, but extremely efficient and competent. Everything was on and off the table like clockwork.

                          The amuse of beans was decadent and surprisingly filling. The oily leftovers were a nice compliment to the otherwise underwhelming bread basket.

                          We ordered the soft eggs and lobster, rabbit orecchiette, cauliflower/orange gnocchi, 'nduja egg raviolo, and red wine agnolotti.

                          The first dish came as a heaping pile. Impressed by the portion size, we dug in. The eggs were not soft, but scrambled in the conventional sense. Both the eggs and lobster were a bit dry, though the lobster had a great flavor. The bruschetta frankly tasted burnt. Every component of this dish seemed overcooked, and the lobster portion was a bit parsimonious for a dish costing $16.

                          Suffices to say, I'm not sure what the fuss is about with that one.

                          The pastas (ordered in small portions) arrived simultaneously. True to the 112 pedigree, each was served with a serving spoon for sharing.

                          The gnocchi was excellent. I wasn't sure how orange would work with the dish, but a subtle hand saved the day here. As to the texture of the gnocchi, well, that was textbook.

                          The rabbit pasta came in an ample portion. For me, the flavors didn't quite register. The pasta itself had a nice al dente bounce to it, but the meat seemed at odds with the dish. It seemed under-salted, so I added a dash, and then it seemed over-salted. I think that means it was under-seasoned.

                          The wife fell in love with the agnolotti. The presentation was outstanding. I thought the flavors were solid, so I defer to her wisdom on that one, though I would have asked for a bit more sauce.

                          The surprise star was the raviolo. The presentation, evoking an equatorial sunset, was gorgeous. The disc itself was rich and densely flavored. We will order the large next time.

                          All in all, this place has it together. At this price point, I'll take a couple of misses to go with the hits. It wasn't enough to make us forget about the 112, but it was enough to compel us to return.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: kevin47

                            Has anyone had the sea urchin pasta? Are taxis readily a available in downtown Minneapolis oir would we need to call them in advance?

                            1. re: Worldwide Diner

                              You could probably call for a taxi when you get the check and be on your way pretty quickly, unless you're leaving around bar close or another very busy time. I don't think you'd need to reserve in advance, but you probably couldn't just wave one down in the street either. La Grassa is a little outside the center of downtown.

                              Kevin, it sounds like you got a bum batch of the egg and lobster bruschetta - when I had it, it was creamy and unctuous and lovely, and by far my favorite thing I had at that meal. If you do go back, you might give it another shot.

                              1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                I've had the pasta negra several times now. I liked the first preparation they did better (which used a different type of pasta that was not squid ink and had pieces of uni on top) than the version they do now with the uni in the butter...however it's still very good and they do a KILLER job with the mussels in the dish.

                                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                  The soft eggs and lobster were indeed delicious. Our eggs were still slightly runny but that didn't bother us in the least bit. The anchovy and avocado bruschetta was pretty but I don't see how the avocado can stand up to the anchovy. Our last starter was the artichoke confit, which was tasty but priced the same as the lobster at $16 - I don't buy or cook artichoke but at first glance that seems expensive. We also had three pastas, I had the sea urchin pasta and the crab ravioli while my wife had the rabbit orecchiette. The orecchiette itself was impressive, very soft like a great gnocchi but my wife complained about the saltiness of the dish. My crab ravioli was very fishy, as a result I focused on the uni and ink pasta. The pasta was fine but why butt the flavor of ink with that of sea urchin? I love sea urchin and love sea urchin pasta but this rendition didn niot impress me. Overall, I was very impressed with the creativity of the food.

                              2. The most tragic thing at BLG is they've changed their Pasta w/ Sweetbreads. What used to be simple and otherworldly is now covered in some foul red sauce with giant strips of otherwise flavorless tripe, all of which now overpower the incredible sweetbreads which I could just order a bowl of

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: SpursDynasty

                                  SpursDynasty - it is a shame that they changed the Pasta w/ Sweetbreads. I loved the smokey flavor of the sweetbreads and how you got a bit with each bite.

                                  My fiance and I went a few nights back to see if the restaurant lost its luster since getting the much deserved attention in the press as of late. I am happy to report that they still produce outstanding product.

                                  Appetizer: Apple proscuitto salad - I loved this last year. It was crisp, delicious and you could taste apple in every bite. This year, or perhaps this night the salad was too saturated with the blue cheese dressing. It was hard to taste the apple and the salad altogether was soggy.

                                  Bruschetta: Soft eggs and lobster - Huge hit! This was my third try, and my fiance's first. He too was nervous on how "soft" the eggs would be. They were cooked perfectly - not overcooked, not runny. A nice helping of lobster. Very satisfied.

                                  Pasta: Gnocchi with cauliflower - I think hands down this beats the 112 version. The orange really makes it pop!

                                  Side dish: Broccolini - It said it had proscuitto but I didn't really taste it. It was a good side to the pork.

                                  Secondi: Pork Tenderloin - we were served 6 large slices, cooked medium rare vs medium as we had requested. The sauce was flavorful but it was loaded with salt almost to the point where it was inedible. This was the only disappointment of the night.

                                  Service was outstanding as usual. Will come again and again - but just not for the pork.

                                  1. re: SpursDynasty

                                    I disagree. I had the new version of the pasta with sweetbreads on New Year's Eve, after having had the previous version a few weeks ago.

                                    At first, I too was disappointed, because the previous version was so good. But after a few bites, I realized my disappointment was more because it was different, not because it was worse.

                                    And, after a few further bites, to be honest, I really liked the current version, and would put it at least on the same level as the previous version. I think the sweetbreads held up very nicely to the red sauce - which I actually enjoyed. Eaten in combination, I still got the flavor of the sweetbreads. When eating just a piece of sweetbread, its flavor was more than there. I really liked the addition of the tripe. Yes, when eaten in combination, the flavor of the tripe was very subtle, but I thought it added an excellent textural element, and is a great way of introducing an ingredient the vast majority of dinners shy away from.

                                    I really liked that they changed things up a little, and decided to present sweetbreads in a different way than is found on most other menus that swerve sweetbreads - crispy. In the end, different people like different things, and I for one really enjoyed this latest presentation of sweetbreads. I hope to see even different presentations in the future. That's one thing I like about BLG and other restaurants in its category - they are not afraid to experiment.

                                  2. Finally made it to Bar La Grassa last night for a birthday dinner with three friends and had the best polenta and the best gnocchi I've ever tasted. We shared:

                                    - Soft eggs and lobster bruschetta. Very, very good. Tender, creamy eggs. The lobster was slightly tough, but I'll admit I've had lobster maybe two other times in my life so I don't really know what the texture is supposed to be like. The flavor was excellent.

                                    - Charred red onion with goat cheese bruschetta. Amazing. I will absolutely get this again. The onions were dark and sweet and soft and went perfectly with the goat cheese.

                                    - Blood orange, date, and marcona almond salad. Delicious and beautiful—a great combination of flavors. I want dates in everything.

                                    - Soft polenta. This was the highlight of the night for me. So rich and creamy and... soft. I loved when it sat a bit and I'd get a bite that was cool and sweet on the rim of the spoon but still warm and richly salty in the middle. Unbelievably good.

                                    - Gnocchi with cauliflower and orange. Ridiculously good. Perfectly tender. The flavors were subtle, and the texture of the cauliflower was an excellent complement to the gnocchi.

                                    - Silk handkerchiefs with basil pesto. I've never had better fresh pasta. The texture is perfect—silky smooth and fine.

                                    - Brussels sprouts with pancetta. Very good, if a bit oily.

                                    Service was attentive, warm, and friendly. Not at all pretentious. She recommended that the four of us share 6–8 dishes and stick to the small sizes of the pastas, and we ended up with only slightly too much food. Food that I get to eat for lunch today. :)

                                    It was loud and packed, but conversation was still very possible.

                                    I can't wait to go back.

                                    Bar La Grassa
                                    800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                                    1. Went there for the first time a few weeks ago. Wasn't bowled over by the spaghetti carbonara, but the grilled prawns... OMG, the prawns. If anybody can tell me what spices they use on those, I'd be hightailing it to Penzey's in search of them. I stopped talking to my dinner companions and fell into a blissful food trance until the prawns were gone.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: fendel

                                        If you liked the prawns, get the grilled shelfish platter. Similar and better IMO.

                                        1. re: Foureyes137

                                          Ooo... that sounds good. What's all on that platter?

                                          1. re: Seige

                                            The prawns, along with steamer sized clams, mussels, and sea scallops (4).

                                            I wish there were grilled oysters on there as well, but I guess we can't have it all.

                                      2. I finally went to Bar La Grassa last night. My overall impression was a 3 out of 5 stars, but I'm definitely willing to give it a second chance. I do like the warehouse interior and the location in general, my only complaint was the loud music that kept me from talking with anyone who wasn't seated directly next to me. I realize that it's a part of the trendy atmosphere, but it's not for me. I guess that in my mid-30s, I'm a bit of a fuddy duddy. As for the food, Mrs. Gutgrease and I shared:

                                        -Grilled Prawns
                                        -Charred Red Onion & Goat Cheese Bruschetta
                                        -Gnocchi with Cauliflower and Orange
                                        -Fettuccine Alfredo

                                        I really liked the flavor of the prawns, but was confounded as to why our plate was comprised of half prawns (with tails attached) and half tails with no prawns. It was as if someone had eaten half of the prawns before giving us the plate. Delicious but disappointing.

                                        The bruschetta was decent but the onions were over-caramelized to our tastes. The menu description did state that it's [i]charred[/i] red onion and cheese, and that it certainly was. Lesson learned.

                                        The gnocchi was excellent. It was the first ever tasting of gnocchi for both of us and we were both very happy with the flavor and overall outcome. I'll definitely be ordering more.

                                        The fettuccine alfredo lacked in flavor to us, but we passed in on to a friend who thought it was wonderful. My feeling was that it was more butter than cream, almost like a butter noodle with some alfredo flavoring.

                                        Even though two out of our four tastings were misses, and one was a dud because of content, the restaurant gave enough for me to try again. I'll just have to find a time of day when it's a bit quieter!

                                        Bar La Grassa
                                        800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: GutGrease

                                          I think their gnocchi is nothing short of brilliant, and I am so sorry to share this with you...but you are RUINED forever. Few gnocchi will ever match your "virgin" experience at BLG! Ah, you can try, but it may never be the same again.

                                          I also love the lobster bruschetta, altho some feel it is hit or miss. I, for one, dream of it.

                                          1. re: shanemio

                                            I kept reading about gnocchi but don't eat out much. I've been tempted to make it at home but wanted to experience it at a restaurant first. It just so happened that we ended up at Bar La Grassa so if this is the taste level that I need to shoot for, so be it!

                                            Bar La Grassa
                                            800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                                            1. re: GutGrease

                                              Homemade gnocchi is somewhat tedious, but worth it once you perfect the technique.

                                              1. re: mtullius

                                                YES! I have yet to perfect it, but my clumsy efforts are better than what I can purchase at most places.