Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dinner at Heartland

As promised, I'm taking some time to catch up on the new restaurants I've tried this year. Today's post is about Heartland in Saint Paul's beautiful Lowertown (a new location they moved to in the last year, after several years in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood). My dear friend, and much more timely fellow blogger, Ryan shared a fantastic post, detailing our experience, which you can check out here.
Heartland's space is absolutely beautiful. It's big and open and lofty with high ceilings and modern touches. My friends and I loved the ambiance, most notably because we could actually hear each other. Even though every table was full in the dining room, the acoustics were phenomenal - with no music - and we only heard each other. Add to that a fantastic server, and we were well on our way to a great dining experience.
We shared a bottle of red wine to start. I'm not a big red wine drinker, but I know it was a Spanish wine and it was pretty good :)

Featuring "North American Midwest Regional Cuisine," Heartland changes its menu daily and relies on family farmers, and locally grown and sustainably raised ingredients. They offer two fixed price menus nightly. I went with the three course "Flora," for $30.
First out, for the whole table, an amuse-bouche. For those who, like me, didn't know what an amuse-bouche was, it's a bite-sized hors d'oeuvre, selected by the chef and meant to prepare the taste buds for the excitement ahead. This was a whitefish pate of sorts. It had a fishy taste to it, which I don't love, but it was good enough to try.
My first course was a chilled celeriac custard, which came with a smoked tomato cream sauce and a breadstick. I remember thinking before it came that I didn't need a second dinner roll (which was delicious) because I would have a plentiful breadstick coming with my meal...he he. Even though the breadstick wasn't quite as I had imagined, it was a perfect crunchy compliment to the custard. Overall, I was quite fond of this dish. The celery and tomato combined for a rich and creamy flavor.
The second course was chestnut ravioli with black trumpet mushrooms, beurre noisette (hazelnut butter), sage and parmesan cheese. This dish was truly phenomenal. It was so rich in flavor and wonderfully indulgent. And despite being a seemingly small portion size, it was quite filling (though that didn't stop me from wishing for more).
And, finally, for dessert: a smoked chocolate terrine with honey marscapone, currant coulis, Sambuca sabayon and chocolate bark. This is another example of Heartland's rich flavor combinations. The currant sauce was a little strong for my liking, but the terrine was delicious when paired with the marscapone. 

All in all, Heartland was like a flavor explosion, opening my mind to many new pairings and ingredients. I want to go back. To shop at their adjoining Farm Direct Market. To sit in their great space again. To enjoy another glass of good wine. And to eat more ravioli. Mmm.  

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