Monday, February 21, 2011

Dinner at Haute Dish

Haute Dish in downtown Minneapolis was named METRO magazine's 2010 "Restaurant of the Year" in December. And I finally had the opportunity to try it this month during a night of merriment with co-workers.
The restaurant is surprisingly spacious, and we walked the entire length of it to our large table in the back. It was the perfect spot for a large group, where we could converse loudly and not annoy the other diners. The architecture and the art-filled walls are quite lovely; I found myself stopping to stare at some of the paintings above the booths in the photo above.

Immediately after sitting down, I knew it was going to be an evening of many firsts for me. The group was adventurous, which meant we'd be trying some fun items to share.
To drink, I had a Gosling's ginger beer (still fighting off illness). I'd never had ginger beer before, so it was the first of my firsts. I was initially hesitant but decided to give it a try and was surprisingly impressed.

We also shared a few starter plates, including:
The "Steak & Eggs" - a steak tartare with an egg in a hole and a bloody mary shooter. I've never been interested in trying tartare but figured since it was at the table, I might as well give it a go. It was definitely...interesting. I'm not going to say I loved it - I think it was mostly a texture thing for me - but I will admit that it had good flavor.
We also had the charcuterie plate, known as "Char-Cuts (Yar!)" - I can actually say with all honesty that I still don't know what half of these meats were...I know there was some lamb, some chicken liver and other stuff, but I don't know which was which and just tried my best to be adventurous. I would say it was good overall.

We did also order the Med Plate, which I didn't get a photo of. This was fantastic. I was a bit obsessed with the mushrooms. It also had delicious olives, hummus and cheese.
For my entree, I went with the signature dish: Tater Tot HauteDish. This is the single one thing that will likely having me coming back for years to come. It was to-die-for. The short ribs were tender and pulled apart with no resistance. Melt. In. Your. Mouth. Goodness. The tots were a potato croquette of sorts that I couldn't get enough of. And the baby green beans provided just enough veggie to make it feel truly like mom's home cookin' with a new twist.

I will be back. If only for the HauteDish.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Own Style: New Bag

In line with my 2011 commitment to blog more regularly, I figure I might also infuse a little more personality into some of my posts. While this blog will maintain its overall integrity as a reflection on my adventures in MSP, I'll also throw in a random mix of other topics (as evidenced already in my 26 books in 2011 area where I'm still seriously lacking, and the sporadic home improvement/travel/cooking posts). My reasoning is simple: I'm not insanely wealthy or cool enough to eat out/take in the city every night. This post falls within the random mix and may be something I write about from time to time.

I have a strong interest in style, though that's not to say I'm a stylish person. But, I do love accessories, most notably shoes (which I'll write about soon). Today, I'm just going to share a couple of photos of the new bag I've been carrying lately.

I stumbled across this bag just before Christmas when picking up gift cards at Express. I took an instant and keen liking to it, deciding I had to have it.

But then I just let it sit in my apartment and only finally started using it last week. At first, I wasn't crazy about the way it droops in the center (though that was one of the things that first attracted me to it in the store), but now it's growing on me more and more.

On a totally unrelated note: I've become completely obsessed with this song by Dessa:

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Birthday Dinner at Nick and Eddie

Nick and Eddie has been on my list for a long time. So I was very excited when we decided to celebrate a friend's birthday there recently. It's another member of a stellar line-up in Loring Park, and I've only ever read good things.
The atmosphere is cool. Dark and chic with lots of black - a skull painting on the wall, black circles in a vertical line, etc. - and the main entrance heads straight toward the bar, serving as the main centerpiece. When we were there, the bartender was eclectic, much like the clientele. He seemed to carry on great conversation with everyone.

Our server was friendly and helpful. She was attentive and teased us like an old friend. We all ordered glasses of house wine and started with two appetizers to share:
First, the pizza. It's made with olive tapenade, tomato, smoked mozzarella and parmigian. It's fantastic! It's the first time I've ever had tapenade on a pizza, and I was delighted by the interesting twist. It also scores major points for presentation. I loved the sprouts, too.
Second were the ham and cheese croquettes with bacon emulsion and garlic confit. AWESOME. Melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
For my entree, I went with the fish and chips with a gribiche sauce (mayonnaise-based, cold egg sauce). This was also delicious. The French-inspired sauce was a new take on the old standard tarter sauce, which I really enjoyed. The fries were tasty and the fish flaky.

Since it was a birthday dinner, we also splurged on dessert :) We tried/shared two:
The butterscotch pudding (yes, it's as good as they say), and
Some kind of flourless, nutty chocolate cake of sorts. It's probably no secret which was my favorite. I actually hate flourless desserts and am not much for nuts either.

But I swooned over that butterscotch pudding. Rich and creamy and amazingly cool - every bite was better than the last.

It's pretty easy for me to say that I loved N&E. I was impressed by everything we ate and appreciated the interesting take on a few of the more traditional items. To top it all off, it's ridiculously well-priced. For a glass of wine, shared appetizers, dinner and shared dessert, plus part of my friend's birthday dinner, I still spent less than $50. That's hard to beat any way you look at it.

Bonus: apparently Nick and Eddie frequently has dance parties.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lunch at Convention Grill

During a recent afternoon of shenanigans with two friends, we visited Convention Grill on France Avenue in Edina for lunch. I had previously been a couple of times, but my friends were newbies to the CG experience.
Best known for its burgers and malts, the 1950s-style diner has a casual and relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for kids and families. The waitresses in their all white uniforms buzz about from table to table. Each time I've been there, it's been bustling with lunchtime activity.  
Fries come sort of family-style. The three of us shared this basket and each had plenty to go around. They're served piping hot and are crispy and delicious.
I also had the California-style bacon cheeseburger. I went true Americana and opted for American cheese. It reminds me of the cheeseburgers my mom would make as a kid, since we were an American cheese kind of family. To this day, one of the first things I do when I go home to visit is slice a few pieces of American cheese off the large block I know will be waiting for me just inside the refrigerator door. Thanks mom, for always having it at the ready :)

Back to the Convention Grill burger. It was well-prepared and filling. The cheese and bacon made it fantastic, and I would definitely classify it as one of the better burgers available in MSP.

In terms of the CG's malts, I would definitely recommend ordering! I had a bad cold when we visited, so I wasn't feeling up for the dairy indulgence, but I've had a malt there once before and loved it.