Bar La Grassa, well worth the walk

by Mike on January 25, 2012 · 4 comments

My foodie companion Ang and our boy Max are hanging with her family in Northern California until we reunite next month, when Lion King docks in Richmond, Virginia. So I’m left to explore the Minneapolis scene on my own. Where to go next?

Another recommendation! This one from Patrick, the friendly bartender at The Local.  Remember The Local?  Head cheese and killer Irish whiskey? I indulged last week and was compelled to blog it out! Patrick jotted down a few dinner suggestions on a bar nap for me.  Precious jewels, I imagined them to be, as he described each in turn.  The one that stood out the most was Bar La Grassa on North Washington Avenue.

I looked it up as soon as I got home.  Bar La Grassa, Executive Chef, Isaac Becker, 2011 Best Chef- Midwest according to The James Beard Association.  Thank you Patrick!  But North Washington Avenue? For this car-less chap, it was a bit of a hike.  Thirty minutes at least on foot, but none of that mattered. I was on a mission. The menu had more hits than Pete Rose: Barramundi Crudo with Calabrian Pepperoncini, Chicken and Foie Gras Polpettone. Whaaaat? They had a whole section of reinvented bruschettas with offerings such as soft eggs and lobster, white anchovy and avocado, or calabrian chili remoulade with fried oysters. Oh man. Potential hypothermia was not gonna stop me. This was going to happen.

I decided to go on Monday, my day off. It was 10º.

So out into the Minneapolis night I went, with my long johns tucked into my socks, and my scarf wound tightly over my face. I concentrated on the culinary adventure to come as I slipped on the icy sidewalk block after block…. after block, after block.  It would have been a pleasant walk, if it weren’t freezing, but I was undeterred.  Finally, I arrived and was enveloped in the warm glow of antique lighting fixtures, well-worn wood, a wash of voices and plates, and smells that set my olfactory receptors off and made me giddy.  Those of you who know me, know to look out when I get giddy.

I sat and thawed at the pasta bar, as close to the source of the smells as I could get. The view into the open kitchen intrigued me. I warmed up with a glass of scotch, and a small dish of white bean salad that was waiting for me when I sat down.  The beans were buttery tender, and went well with the acid from the vinegar that they marinated in.  They had me at beans.

They offered half portions of pasta, which gave the menu a small plates-tapas feel.  I had the fresh papparadelle with veal ragu and a glass of Nero d’Avalo.  The pasta was flawless, and the ragu was one of the best I’ve had.  The tomato flavor was perfectly balanced with the richness of the veal.  For the next course I had the St. Louis Pork Ribs, the braised greens with ham hock, and a glass of Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.  The ribs were dry rubbed with a house recipe and finished with crushed red pepper, flat leaf parsley and a wedge of lemon.  The greens were topped with crispy shallots and sat in a velvety broth.  Every bite was a symphony.

It would have been irresponsible of me not to have dessert.  I chose the salted caramel crespelles, or rather, they chose me, and a meal like this could not end without a grappa.  The waitress recommended a nice Moscato that warmed me for the long walk home.

And what a walk it was! A proper passeggiare. I almost enjoyed the frigid night air. Reeling from my gastronomical experience, I practically skipped home. There were other suggestions on Patrick’s bar nap, and I do still have 3 weeks left in Minne — but it’s going to be hard to top BLG.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron January 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Those crepelles! Bribe the chef for he recipe!


Angela January 26, 2012 at 7:49 am

I hope you were thinking of your wife the whole time you enjoyed this meal, LOL!!!


Jim Barry January 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm

If the lion thing doesn’t work out , You would be a great food critic. Well written!


Michael Hollick January 27, 2012 at 3:05 am

Thanks, Mr. Barry!


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