Monday, January 16, 2012
NYE Dinner at Rinata and Crashed Ice Event
This post is going to bring together two very different events - one that I should have posted about already (New Year's Eve dinner at Rinata) and one that took place this weekend (Red Bull Crashed Ice in Saint Paul).
Let's start with Rinata. I've always heard good things about its Italian fare and had it on a list of spots to visit but just never seemed to find the time. Then, when planning for New Year's Eve dinner at the last minute, I remembered reading this great post from The Heavy Table about five good restaurants people are overlooking. I figured it was a sign I should try to score NYE reservations. And, I did! For six!
Rinata, with its lovely Christmas decorations still hanging, had a lovely, intimate ambiance. With just a few tables in each of three rooms, every nook and cranny was packed when we arrived (I took the shot below on the right just as we were the last to leave so as not to interrupt other diners). The whole space felt warm and cozy on the snowy evening.
As we placed our wine order, our server brought out some fantastic bread with olive oil and tapenade. We were already off to a good start.
We then ordered two appetizers for the group to share; my selection was the bruschetta with cannellini beans, pancetta and roasted brussels sprouts. I give it solid marks for presentation and an interesting combination of ingredients. Overall, though, I thought the beans were just a little too much and ended up drying the app out a bit (of course, this could partially be attributed to my non-love of these white beans, though I keep trying to convince myself otherwise). One friend suggested that it might have been better had the beans been pureed...that might not be a bad idea :)
The second starter was the crostini with roasted mushrooms, caramelized onion and bleu cheese. As a lover of all things mushroom and bleu cheese, I thought this one was very enjoyable.
And then - the main event. I ordered the gnocchi with balsamic braised short ribs and roasted mushroom pan sauce for my entree. OMG. This was outstanding. The short ribs were so tender and flavorful, and the gnocchi perfectly prepared. I was really blown away by this dish and ate every. last. bite.
I was really impressed by how reasonably priced everything on the menu was given the caliber of food. It was all well-prepared and quite generously portioned. And another thing I really enjoyed about our Rinata experience was the staff. We had a fantastic server who was absolutely delightful. Plus, the restaurant was very accommodating when I called to adjust my reservation (even on NYE!).
So, if you haven't yet tried Rinata in Uptown, consider this a little nudge.
On to the Crashed Ice event. This weekend, the steps of the Cathedral in Saint Paul became home to a steep, icy and winding track for the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship, where nearly 200 skaters from around the world came to compete. It's estimated that more than 80,000 people swarmed the streets of Saint Paul to take in the action. I joined the mad house for a bit Saturday evening. Here are just a couple of photo highlights from the event :)