i've not had schoenfeld's food before that i remember (and am too lazy to look up on my own web site, sad yet true). i'm kind of glad i didn't. it works out better for him for sure when he can do his own food on his own terms. haute dish seems to be one of those places people either love or hate, i've not encountered too many 'meh's regarding it.
despite the fact this is one of the restaurants i have a hard time finding something to eat due to the can't/won't eat list (i've learned to ask about hidden pork, say, in sauce even when not probable given the dish and whatever ingredients may be listed), they are unapologetically mostly about the pork here- it's even the logo. i knew was i was getting into.
and perhaps surprisingly, i'm going to say i'm not a hater here. for about $2 more than i paid for the food at the dakota yesterday, i had a much better experience with, well, everything. despite being very sad that the duck in a can had pork in it- i've been wanting to try that dish since for ages.
they're not entirely unvegetarian but you probably will order off the first course section of the menu as i did (or pick bits off or some such). i started out with the soup of the moment (i wonder if that's a nod to that asia song...), a sweet red pepper with a few different sauces on top that i can't remember ($6). but that's my bad, since they do get mega-points for having (a) all of their menus on their web site, including dessert and drinks and (b) having all of those menus *current.* that hardly ever happens.
anyway, there was a green and a white and a brown sauce in there, which contrasted nicely with the orange soup visually, the white one had some interesting texture going on, too. the taste was a bit mellow. i would've liked more salt (no surprise there), but alas there's no shakers on the table. the soup cooled off rather quickly, even in a very very hot bowl.
i also had the tuna salad nicoise style ($12). i loved the plating- it reminded me of the cereal wonderland that hung did on top chef a few seasons ago, in a good way. the salad looked like a village. the egg, for instance, was the yolk, unadorned, on top of a mesa of egg whites and herbs. there was a tapanade-topped slice of long, thin toast balanced on the salad that looked like a slide. the rest of the ingredients went along with that theme- as a whole the dish was amusing and edible. and pretty good- it hit all the traditional nicoise flavors on the plate.
alongside i had a crispin cider (spelled wrong on the ticket, i am the typo police?) ($6), while the other half of this small restaurant club outing chose the ultra-girly french martini ($10) with stoli, pineapple, lemon, chambord.
they opted to pair that with the second best known dish, tater tot hautedish with 'short ribs, baby green beans, porcini bechamel and "tots"' ($21). the "tots" look to be deep-fried potato puree, like the blue cheese ones from travail but more refined. and these are also excellent. why can these not be a side dish? i could eat many of them solo. it would make me happier. oh, as for the rest of the food, they loved the flavor balance on the plate.
here (unlike the aforementioned dakota), bread is free and served with some nice, soft butter. it was chewy (supposed to be), but not bad. i think it would've been even better served warm. ditto the very fall indeed butternut squash tart with toasted coconut, brown butter and sage ($7). good room temperature, but would've kicked major dessert ass warm, especially with the lovely coconut ice cream. which i would also like solo. i would kind of like to try a "tot" dipped in that. and creativity points for not sticking the butternut squash in ravioli or soup (i'm guilty of that) like seemingly everyone else on the entire earth.
service was friendly and understated- not too much in the way. the server was quite knowledgable (especially about the cheese of the moment), but offered to check on details if need be.
it doesn't look like cafe havana anymore- it's pretty stripped down and feels clubby (and not shea-designed) but they do need to hit the lighting fixtures (tableside and other) with a duster more often. the spiderwebs are a bit distracting alongside the lamps that look like they're wearing many fezzes. i did enjoyed the multisinked bathroom- it probably used to be designed for more than one person at a time.
it does get a bit loud, but not loud enough to not hear the other people at your table. it's a background loud, not a 'what? what?' loud. the crowd didn't keep minnesota dining hours- we got there earlyish (6:30 pm), most didn't show for dinner until 7:30-8 pm.
i think it's haute.
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