Puts Unexpected Twists on Old Favorites
First, an admission: While I’m a die-hard foodie, I take pride in the goal this column seeks to fulfill, which is slightly different from that of others. Any decent food writer can criticize, and that has a valuable place, but my chief aim is to celebrate good food. I marvel at what our earth produces, so I am a devoted fan of chefs who combine those raw materials, transforming them into a unique and—in every sense of the word—nourishing experience. In that quest, I usually search for the different, the surprising—and often, the out-of-the-way.
But this time, I followed on the heels of other local columnists, eager to sniff out Chef Landon Schoenefeld’s new digs: Haute Dish. In my defense, his cuisine is everything I enjoy: It is irreverent, exciting, and all his own.
Schoenefeld has built an impressive résumé (112, Sea Change, Brasa, Porter & Frye). Now in his own kitchen, his object is to not to bring French or Italian cuisine to the Midwest, but to elevate Midwestern cuisine itself. Though the names of his dishes are all recognizable and approachable—so much so that they are almost disappointing at first glance—do not expect to know what comes out of the kitchen.
This isn’t your grandmother’s hot dish. It’s not really anyone’s hot dish, per se. What you should anticipate is a cheeky play on some of the main ingredients, presented entirely differently, with a few flavor surprises. So, order, and then, try to think about something else.
A rather old-school cocktail list seems to suit the handsome gentlemen’s-club decor. The bar is comfortable, and even on a Monday night, it attracted a surprising collection of hipsters and epicures. Have you heard? Being a food geek is now considered cool.
My dining partner and I melted over the Mint Julep ($9). Not to disparage the mojito, but give me a julep any hot summer day—preferably, something like Haute Cuisine’s, with Woodford Reserve bourbon, fresh mint, simple syrup, and soda. The Sazerac ($10) is pure New Orleans splendor: smooth and subtle, with a little tease of Le Tourment Vert absinthe.
Our server encouraged us to order Char-Cuts ($13)—a quartet of housemade charcuterie. My heart skipped a food-geek beat when our server mentioned the spicy head cheese. As soon as it arrived, I dug furiously into the jalapeño-topped piece o’ heaven. However, in doing so, I believe I cheated the delicate, more subtle slices of mortadella of their full impact.
The pork pâté with mustard was another favorite, but following it with an almost-too-smooth chicken liver pâté was something I also would reverse on a return visit. We sipped the crisp, charcuterie-friendly Domaine de Pellehaut ($7/$28), which, despite its crispness, drew out and embraced the smokiness in the meat.
Next was “Steak & Eggs” ($12)—steak tartare, that is, heavily spiked with capers and mustard, and topped with onion. The egg is a pretty and very satisfying version of “frog in a hole,” but it was the fiery Bloody Mary oyster shooter that won my heart.
Mac & Cheese ($15) was similarly unrecognizable as such, but I appreciated Schoenefeld’s over-the-top treatment. The cheese is tallegio, and the pasta isn’t exactly macaroni. Add meaty pieces of king crab, sprinkle with tobiko and truffle-infused breadcrumbs, finish with another drizzle of olive oil, and voila: apparently…Mac & Cheese. Gee—I’d kind of like this guy to whip me up some Pigs in a Blanket sometime.
I was curious enough to plow on to General Tso’s Sweetbreads with Foie Fried Rice ($14). While I appreciated the switch from tofu or chicken to sweetbreads (imagine a much silkier texture with a mild organ-meat aftertaste), I personally would have enjoyed a little more kick. Of course, I’m a spice fiend, so take my comment with a grain of crushed red pepper.
As the menu is set to change shortly, we chose Steak & Potatoes ($18/$28 depending on cut) over some of the other “Last” plates. While I enjoyed the inclusion of a marrow bone and gremolata, I found the steak slightly on the tough side. While our server had several recommendations for wine pairings, the full, spicy Rioja Alta “Vina Alberdi” Reserva ($12/$48) definitely was up to the task.
We finished with Sorbet of the Moment ($5). In that precise moment, it was cherry white pepper sorbet served over diced peaches.
It will be very interesting to see how Haute Dish’s frequently-changing menu evolves over time. Rumor has it that Schoenefeld plans to feature the heirloom tomato next. I’m imagining dishes with names like “Fries & Ketchup,” or perhaps a festive version of “Cocktail Wienies with Tomato/Bourbon Sauce.” Maybe I don’t want to know. Surprise me.
119 Washington Ave. N., Mpls