location: st. paul
grade: a (mine)/a- (group average)
do i have a death wish? it's clear that i have the willpower of violet beauregarde when it comes to some things edible (you can keep your chocolate and such, for me it's cheese, bread, good fries, foie gras.... in that order), i'm just a bit glad i don't live closer to this place. if i did, i'd be there way too often, eating very tasty things that drive my cholesterol sky-high.
when i first saw the menu, i said to myself... i almost kind of hope that the "abc foie gras assemblage du jour" is something paired with something i can't or don't eat, because i know i'm going with the poutine (barring anything i can't or don't eat in there). and eating both would not be a good thing. because if both were all clear, i was going there.
so i turned into a blueberry.
oh, wait, no, i had a kickass dinner that had all of my favorite foods in it. (and the day after, i feasted on fish oil, walnuts, avocados, fruit and veg?)
since three of five of us ordered starters, the chef sent out bread and butter for the other two of us who didn't. (that's usually $4 for that, but if you order it on the menu, you get smoked butter). it was very tasty and warm. the bread. the butter was also tasty. but not warm.
then it was the foie for me, and the day's treatment was a 3 ounce pan-seared portion on toast, with sour cherries and cashew and a bit of greens on the plate ($15). and it was good, very good. the foie. it was a bit hard to corral all of the elements of the dish, even the foie and toast (it kept falling off) in one bite, though. some bread would've been helpful in that effort, or the toast served not under the foie. the toast was all tasty with the sauce, though. personal preference.
the "pig's eye poutine" ($9) hit the table a bit after everything else did by several minutes (for a while i wondered if it had been forgotten). it was good when it got to the table, but since it was an untraditional version (cheese cubes instead of curds, though the menu did state curds. curious, that.) it needed a few minutes to 'set up' and have the heat of the gravy and such melt the cheese before it came to fruition.
best version i've had, cheesy, salty, potato...ey happiness with a the best-smelling heavily truffled gravy. (insert swoon here.) i think this poutine would change the minds of people who think the concept gross. what do they know?
now, on to everyone else... for the starters, of the two chosen the minnesota market salad ("spinach, radicchio, fennel, cashews, fig vinaigrette" $6) was the clear winner, though the leaves needed to be a bit more bite-sized (a wee quibble). love the fig vinaigrette quite a bit. that may be one of those salad dressings you'd eat anything if it was dipped in it.
the "beets and bleu" ("creamy beet and bleu cheese panna cotta, walnuts, greens, ciabatta" $8) was slightly more problematic... i liked it, and i hate beets. you can probably guess why i liked it.... the thing was chock full of blue cheese, which overwhelmed the beet flavor almost entirely. (why i tasted it if i hate beets, see: no willpower, cheese) more greens would've helped it quite a bit with the flavor balance. the people who got this went with an a- grade probably just because of this dish (vs. an a).
the daily special "speakeasy burger" (not always the same kind of burger) that day was topped with foie, truffle gravy, and fried egg. at $24 it seemed spendy compared with the other burgers, but then again... they weren't topped with foie and truffles, on a very large bun. the person who ordered it said they liked it, but probably wouldn't order it again for that price. it came with a large pile o'fries.
spot on dishes included the "swede hollow meatballs" (made the right way, a la grandma, with pork, beef, and lamb) with mashed potatoes, black truffle gravy, and lingonberry sauce ($15) and the "cassoulet a la voyageur" with duck confit, pancetta, wild rice sausage, beans, carrots ($18). both nice during the freezingness of the hockey tournament snow/rain/ice storm happening outside.
not surprisingly, the "thousand hills cattle co. new york strip" (see: name of restaurant) with grilled lemon and poached carrots ($29.50) was the hands down home run (um... well... everyone else thought so, so hey, close enough). of the various topping options, the le moulin rouge (criminis in red wine rosemary glace, $6), you could smell that thing all the way down to the end of the table, and it apparently tasted as good as it smelled.
everyone else ordered wine, but i forgot to ask about it. sorry. on the receipt, the person with the steak i think got the silentium, tempranillo ($6 per glass) and the others a dusted valley cab ($10 per glass) i think (it's not on the wine list, so....) with their meal.
this is also one of those places where they try to source locally and stay kinda seasonal.
service was quite good in an informal (i.e. water was mostly kept up with, etc.) and very friendly manner (in a very good way). though i do prefer that prices are listed when off-menu and other specials are listed. alas, what i found a bit... offputting.... os the server calling me 'dear' and 'hon' and such when they're weren't a grandma type. especially weird when the person in question is younger than me. um, sweetiedarling, i don't know you, you don't know me, it's just odd when you're dropping so very many endearments, lovie. so stop that.
the room is dark-panelled, masculine sort of place (a few feminine touches look a bit out of place, like a piece of wall art that kind of looked like a giant cameo), with maybe a dozen tables downstairs and a nice-looking longish bar, and probably about half that up (i didn't go up and check). they have put in some sort of panel by the door so the people at the table near the door don't freeze their assets (that's deliberate, kiddies, not a typo) off when it opens in winter. looks a bit odd. restrooms are plain and serviceable. other than vegetarians (see the menu's oft-quoted 'vegetarians will be regarded with benevolent amusement') this is one of those places where you could bring anyone who loves to eat.
but until i get more oatmeal and such into me, i think i better wait a bit before going back... i obviously can't trust myself not to eat too much poutine.
© the bent sun as risen