Piccolo first visit / recommendations?
My wife and I are making our fist visit to Piccolo tomorrow (Friday) evening and I am looking for recommendations regarding the current menu. I searched the board but didn't see any recent reports so I am wondering if someone can give an update.
We went to Piccolo the other night and four of us did the tasters menu and basically tried everything on the menu. It was all very good. Thoughtful, well executed, thoroughly enjoyable. The wine list is one of the best I've seen in the Twin Cities.
The only thing I'd do different: I wouldn't split tasters menu dishes. The portions are already small and splitting them 2 or 4 ways makes it too small to get proper enjoyment.
Sorry I didn't see this in time. I've been there three times. Every time, we've been with another couple. There are 16 courses, typically. So we've just ordered the entire menu, and then everyone takes a bite of what is placed in front of them. Then we rotate so everyone has tried evverything. We then order another round of "favorites."
re: Brad Ballinger
I supposing eating the whole menu is one sure fire way to find out what's good on the current menu. Being only two our sample size was a bit smaller, we ordered eight different savory plates plus one desert and used the "plate swap" method to share.
Without going into detail, we thought about 2/3's of the dishes we had were excellent but the rest were only good. I expected the dishes to be small, however I was surprised at variation in sizes between the dishes. One dish, smoked potato agnolotti with pickled herring was extremely delicious but it was so small it almost hard to share. I would have loved to have 5 copies of that dish. Other dishes were much more substantial and better suited to sharing.
If I recall correctly, the waiter's recommendation was 3 to 4 plates per diner. I found 4 to fine for light meal. 3 would probably only satisfy the lightest eaters.
While I am glad we went, I don't think it will become a regular spot for us. For my money in that category of fine dining, I would prefer the food and ambiance of a place like Restaurant Alma over Picollo.
528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Listed at the bottom is what we had with comments about each dish. I feel there is room for improvement.
Celery root soup with saltine cracker croquette, Benton's bacon and pickled herring. - Very good. Nice texture on the soup. Pouring the soup at the table is a little awkward with the tables so close together. Servers have to watch out for so they don't stick their rears don't come too close to adjacent tables.
Marshall Farms rabbit with dates, roasted eggplant, king trumpet mushrooms and tahini - Very good. Basically a galantine with demi. Nice showcase of classic technique. This came with a foam on top of the rabbit as well.
Braised lamb neck with morcilla, puffed rice, cauliflower and compressed celery. - The bottom of the lamb was a little charred for my tastes. It was black. I believe this to be flaw in execution. You should not be tasting carbon. I have no idea if this was intentional or not. I have never tasted a representative Morcilla I can't comment on the sausage.
Charcoal grilled octopus "shawarma" with yogurt, pickled green tomatoes, white asparagus and garlic purée. - Again very good. I thought the octopus would take a more central position in this dish. But tasty and interesting.
Beef cheek "pastrami" with charcoal grilled leeks, gruyere cheese and sun chokes. - We felt the beef cheek was a little bit underdone. The bite just was not there. The table next to us felt that way as well. Otherwise it was gelatinous and sticky on the outside.
Chocolate pound cake with blood orange, medjool date and cocoa nibs. - This was not a pound cake. The crumb was not even and the cake was a little dry.
Pine needle panna cotta with pine nut brittle and mugolio. - Very good.
As far as desserts were concerned we skipped the rice krispie bar because the table over had ordered it and we just didn't like the look of the dish. The finish on the bar was a little bit rough.
I made my first trip to at Piccolo on Wednesday, so perhaps I can help :) I was 'that guy' and took a picture of the menu, because lord knows I wouldn't have remembered everything otherwise.
1) Spanish octopus and Iberican lomo salumi with crispy artichokes, potato, and savory. I love octopus and I love salumi, so this was a no brainer. It absolutely lived up to my expectations too. Chunks of octopus running through the two salumi discs, with artichoke chips on top and small pieces of potato and artichoke on the side. The salumi was some of the best I've ever had and the octopus did exactly what it should have. If you don't like the somewhat rubbery texture, you might be put off, but I loved it. The accompaniments were nice too.
2) Scrambled brown eggs with pickled pigs feet, truffle butter, and parmigiano. From what I've heard, this is the only menu item that has remained since they opened, so I had to try it. From the first bite, I could tell why. Creamy scrambled eggs mixed with pigs feet is good by itself, but the salty hit from the shaved parm really put it over the top from me. The whole dish appears to be swimming in liquid (I assume the truffle butter), but by the time you get to the end, its gone. Wonderful dish.
3) Tuna collar and oxtail pave with collards, smoked cippolini onions, and Meyer lemon. I have no idea what 'pave' was, but the combination of proteins was too good to pass up. What came out looked like a small piece of terrine, topped with a slice of meyer lemon, and two small onions alongside. The first thing I noticed was the smoke flavor of the onions. Really nice touch to go with their inherent sweetness. The pave was unique in a great way. The meaty tuna collar worked well with the oxtail, both falling apart with nothing more than a fork's pressure. The small amount of acidity from the lemon helped cut through the richness. Another great dish.
4) Chicken with cornbread, bacon, black walnuts, molasses. The chicken was obviously a multi-step affair, boned out then rolled with various other proteins (not sure what they were) and pan fried with the skin on. The skin was a little soft and came completely off when I tried to cut it. Other than that, the flavors were great. The cornbread came as a small muffin, also with nice flavor. The bacon pieces had great smoke and salt flavor as well and were mixed with the walnuts with little dots of molasses finishing it off. Good dish, would have been great had the chicken skin been a little more crispy.
5) Pumpkin spice cake with crab apple, pumpkin ice cream, and bacon powder. This was great. The cake came with some sort of icing (pardon my ignorance) over the top and the crab apple pieces were cooked in the cake. All the flavors on this plate felt like fall and the bacon powder added a nice salt element to counter act the otherwise sweet dish. Wonderful end to one of the best meals I've ever had in MSP.
A quick note about the experience as a whole. The main gripe you hear from people is about the amount of food you get for the price. If you go into it with the expectation of getting full for $20, you're going to be disappointed. If, however, you go in to get a 5 course meal (4 savory and 1 sweet, for me) for $50-60, you'll be thrilled. I certainly wasn't hungry when I left.
Have fun dale and let us know how it goes!