For some reason, a search for Tilia brought up no dedicated threads. That doesn't seem possible, so I apologize in one (or more) already exists. Anyways...
Last Friday, I made a not too often jaunt down to the Lakes area. I figured I'd time my trip to arrive right around 11am, when Tilia was opening, to ensure I would be seated before the lunch rush.
When I arrived, a few minutes after 11, there were a few tables open, and no one sitting at either bar. I chose to sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen, since I enjoy watching that madness. As I sit down, I notice the chef calling out the tickets looks familiar. It turns out he is a friend whom I tailgate next to at the Gopher football games. Good start for me.
As I'm perusing the menu, he starts my journey with a small cup of butternut squash soup with bacon foam, maple syrup (?) spheres, and crispy squash strips on top. The velvety texture and flavor of the soup were wonderful, I didn't ask if there was cream involved, but I assume as much. The bacon foam added a nice salt element. The maple spheres were a little weird, but I like what they added as well. Nice opening course for a blustery fall day.
From there, I moved on to the potted meat. So simple, yet so incredibly good. Pork rillettes with a nice layer of pork fat on top, served with toasted bread, mustard, and pickled shallots. If you haven't had it, do yourself a favor. I think the first time I went, it was a duck confit version, but this was just as good. I could eat a plate of the bread on its own, by the way. Little hint of garlic, nice combo of crunch and chew, nice grill char.
Next, he dropped a small bowl of pasta in from of me. Red wine fusilli with roast (overnight) lamb, parm, and a gremolata/bread crumb topping. This was probably my favorite course of the day. Perfectly al dente pasta, thick enough to have some bite to them, and fall apart tender lamb.
Next, at his urging, I had the fish taco torta. If you haven't seen it or had it, they top a nice fresh bun with corn tortilla chips (fresh fried), a nicely fried fish filet, slaw, cilantro, lime, and a spicy mayo of some sort. Really good sandwich, coming from a guy who normally finds fish sandwiches too fishy.
As you can probably imagine, by this time, I'm painfully full. So my buddy looks at me in obvious pain, smiles and says, 'Want some dessert?' I grimace and ask what it is, expecting to decline. As soon as he says butterscotch pot de creme, I'm in. What gets presented is a small mug with a perfectly smooth cold custard. Rich, dense, delicious.
After a few minutes of digestion and trying to will myself to walk, I leave incredibly impressed. I hope to make it down for brunch some day. I can only imagine how good it must be.
That sounds like a great dinner. However, I must sadly report that I did not care much for Tilia's brunch. The menu is very interesting, but the dishes we had were overcomplicated and heavy. Too many aggressive ingredients fighting each other on the plate. They seemed to be trying too hard to make unusual dishes. A little restraint and balance would have saved the meal.
I remember a few of the dishes we had -- a lobster benedict which had too much happening on the plate, and a "long john" doughnut filled with ham and cheese. Great concept, but it was busy with sauces and seasonings piled on a dish that was pretty darn heavy to begin with.
On the other hand, we've really enjoyed dinner there.
Went last night. Had a bacon cheeseburger, beet salad and kale with peanuts. Wife had the Fish Taco Torta. Drank some beer. Split a black forest cake dessert. All of it was very very good.
We put our names on the list around 6:30, went to a friend's house and had wine and snacks and came back at 8:00.