Last week found me with exciting dinner plans: the chance to check out The Green Room in Stillwater, a new-ish, well-reviewed restaurant whose co-owner and chef happens to be the brother of one of my dearest friends.
I intentionally try to find excuses not to stray too far from the city, but even I have a hard time thinking of reasons not to go to Stillwater. It's one of those great little cities filled with beautiful historic architecture, breathtaking views and quaint shopping.
The Green Room itself is in a historic building. Its simplistic decor - unadorned brick walls, simple neon sign, high ceilings and open space - pulled me in from the start. There was also a steady, but not overwhelming, easy-going crowd, which made the experience even more enjoyable (plus, we scored a private, secluded table in the back - it pays to dine out with the chef's sister!).
We then shared the Homemade Hummus and Babba Ganoush appetizer, which certainly qualifies as one of the most interesting and delightful presentations I've ever seen. It was also very good (especially considering you'd have to be a fool to not love hummus).
For the main course, I went with a half salad (Blue Cheese and Romaine)...
And a half portion of the Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi (server recommendation when I couldn't decide between the gnocchi and chicken rigatoni...main selling point: it's handmade).
I really liked both. More accurately, I loved the salad and really liked the pasta. The salad, with its shredded romaine, bacon, tomato, red onion, blue cheese, pine nuts and blue cheese dressing was fantastic. So much blue cheese that I actually had a little left over at the end rather than wishing for more, and a perfect crunchy addition was made with the pine nuts.
I have to admit I was a little apprehensive when the pasta first came out, simply because it looked so soupy. But my reservations were quickly relieved when I took the first bite of the gnocchi. It was SO good. The prosciutto was much thicker than I expected and the white wine garlic sauce was very flavorful. Perhaps too flavorful. My only gripe (and it's a small one as a garlic lover), is that I was still tasting that garlic two days later. Of course, I realized near the end of my meal, that I probably could have avoided some of the garlic overload, simply by pushing some of the slices off to the side.
Overall, I was very impressed with The Green Room. Great food. Good service. Neat space. I look forward to returning on a weekend when I can wander aimlessly around Stillwater (and remind myself why it's good to venture out of Minneapolis-Saint Paul proper on occasion).