review: encouraging gluttony…
I had the great pleasure of gluttonously stuffing my face at 112 eatery a little over a month ago. It was *freezing* cold outside, which awakened the hearty appetite in my friend and me. Despite having had a nice a three-course lunch at Vincent, a Restaurant, my friend and I managed to down a good portion of the following feast for dinner. You can see photos and more comments about each dish on my flickr account.
Sweet and Sour Crab Salad
Bibb Lettuce Salad
Tagliatelle with Foie Gras “Meatballs”
Marinated Bone-in Pork Chop
Tres Leches Cake
In retrospect, the two of us ordered *way too much* for five. Yet, notwithstanding dining fatigue from four days of eating, eating, and more eating (La Belle Vie, spoonriver, Lucia’s, Restaurant Alma, Vincent’s, and Heartland), 112 eatery’s food managed to stand out and impress. Its food is the simple, hearty, bold, and gutsy fare that has captured the focus of foodies and chefs in the past couple of years.
The food is strangely international. I encountered everything from Asian accents and Italian flavors to Cuban sweets.
The stand-out dishes included:
Sweet & Sour Crab Salad
Wonderful! This was the best dish of the evening. The dressing was key – sweet and sour (as the name suggests) with a definite hit of chile heat. The crispy fried shallots added a wonderfully savory, crisp texture. I don’t generally like mint, but the use of whole fresh mint leaves was just perfect.
Tagliatelle with Foie Gras “Meatballs
That’s right, folks: foie gras “meatballs.” In flavor, these fluffy boules tasted not unlike chicken. In texture, they melted like fine velveteen – just a bit of sturdiness, but mostly melt-away soft. I would liken them to mini matzo balls that weren’t as wet or heavy. There was only a slight hint of liver-yiness. The pasta was perfectly cooked and seasoned. I was pleasantly surprised that the course wasn’t as oppressively heavy as I had feared. Probably one of the finest pasta dishes I’ve had in a long time.
For me, this dish was a highlight. The scallop was perfectly caramelized on the surface with a creamy, sweet, and barely-cooked interior. I was slightly disappointed that the chef had used king oyster mushroom; I had expected regular oyster mushrooms, which I think would have imparted more of a sea briny aroma. The chef also decided to use truffle oil, which tickled my nose before the dish hit the table.
I also really enjoyed the side of escarole with anchovy with nutmeg. It was a bit greasy, but the flavor was fantastic.
Portions were generous, if not obscenely large. At the end of dinner, I ordered a cheese plate thinking it was, like most cheese plates, just a sample. The server carted out enough cheese and bread on one plate (inelegantly piled one on top of each other, which was a little annoying since I generally like to enjoy each cheese’s flavor on its own, instead of having, say, blue cheese mashed into my Brie de Meaux) to – well – feed five.
The wine list (by the glass and bottle) was fun and eclectic; something for everyone.
The restaurant – bar, tables, and booths alike – was packed from the moment we walked in to the moment we walked out. We got lucky and snagged a booth towards the back, away from the congested front of the house.
For the amount of volume the restaurant saw that evening, service was amazingly on top of things. The team work and coordination was noticeable. Our server was patient, accommodating, and extremely friendly, and opinionated (about the food) in a helpful way.
112 eatery is a place I’d highly recommend and would gladly go back to.
p.s. While the crowded, boisterous pub (well, really, it’s name, eatery, is a more apt description) is visible from the street, the restaurant’s front door, is within the entrance to an adjacent office/residential building.
112 north 3rd street
in the historic Amsterdam building
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401