Spoon and Stable

I recently had dinner with some college friends who were in town celebrating their birthdays. When they texted the restaurant, there was no way I could pass it up. Spoon and Stable is a fairly new establishment in the North Loop of Minneapolis and it’s getting a lot of press….and another notch on my James Beard nominee list. My friend joked that she had an easier time getting into French Laundry – and considering we had an 8:30 reservation on a Sunday night, she wasn’t kidding. I had to double check my Monday morning alarm carefully as the kids were starting drama camp – and believe me, I’d see drama if we were late.

This was my second time at Spoon and Stable – I had been there for a work event for Jeff, so it was in a private dining area with a selected menu. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely delicious and I’m still thinking about the brown butter foam, but it’s not exactly the type of environment the invites the inner foodie to rejoice. From Jeff: “You’re not going to pull out your phone for pictures, are you?” Message received. But with friends – we were seated prime time in the dining room with a view of a kitchen and of the chef himself. Let us rejoice. 

The theme of the restaurant ties back to Chef Gavin Kaysen’s midwestern roots, so you’ll see modern updates of some traditional dishes. I liked the way the menu was set up – Garden, Chilled, Pasta, Sea, Land, and Sides. The three of us were ready to eat, so we ordered – a lot.

We started with a sugar snap pea salad and an English pea soup. The salad was delicious – a perfectly prepared pheasant egg and sunflower seeds made the dish. And the pea soup – soooo smooth. This just tasted like spring.  Side note – I’m definitely going to lobby for a Vitamix.

I was immediately intrigued with the bison tartare and it did not disappoint. Generally I like the acidic brineyness of a tartare, but this one was different – it had a warm cumin flavor. I’m still thinking about it. I scooped up the last bite with a spoon right underneath our waiter’s hand – that was probably when he started eyeing me for a second glass of wine.

We went with the gnocchi – and had a good table conversation about where to get/make gnocchi. With three foodies at the table, it was entertaining – I’ve always wanted to try making it, my specialty food buying friend had a great source from an Italian guy in small town UP (Upper Peninsula, Michigan if you’re not local), and my more practical food loving friend was wondering if Trader Joes had the best locally available stuff. I know this was good, but I don’t remember this dish as well – perhaps it was because I was still thinking about the tartare? But we can’t forget the Foie Gras. Grilled richness with a delicious cornmeal pancake – and a sauce I couldn’t figure out. Sweet and smokiness – which was solved by our waiter, who said the secret was the smoked jalapeno mole. Chocolate in the mole. Yum.

BK ordered poached halibut with chorizo and lobster emulsion, and wow – this was a showstopper. I’ve struggled to like chorizo, and I think I’m just getting the wrong kind. The combination of the halibut with salty chorizo and buttery lobster was straight up delicious. I’m hesitant to name this dish the winner of the night, but it is toward the top of the list.

I chose the duck and AF went with the grilled lamb. Again -outstanding plates. The roasted duck was served with a wheatberry porridge, and since I have a pretty strong history with wheat, I was excited to try it. I’ve made a few salads with wheatberry in the past 5 years, but this porridge is the wheatiest tasting dish I’ve ever had. It tastes like harvest smells – only better. I don’t know how they do it. The grilled lamb was equally delicious – I thought the almond was what made the dish. Wow.

We went with the creamed spinach with cheese curds and the roasted potatoes. We were a little wrapped up in our main dishes and forgot to grab pictures. While the sides were good, they were less notable. AF raved about the creamed spinach and I was interested on how it was perfectly salted – sometimes I struggle with figuring out the right about of salt. But when it’s right – you know it.

We probably could have skipped this because we were so full from feasting, but why? If you’re at Spoon and Stable, go big or go home. We opted for big with the honey cream cake with sweetened condensed milk ice cream and a creme fraiche creme brulee with rhubarb compote and granola. I’m not sure which one was better – at the table, I liked the cake but a few days later, I’m thinking about the creme brulee. It had a rhubarb sorbet on top that was a really interesting contrast with the brulee – a nice mix of textures with the creamy custard and a cold and tarty sorbet. Of course, when the waiter brought the parting gift of little cookies, I smiled with the beautiful pink french macaroon – because I had been bashing french macaroons only a few hours before. Overly stuffy. But that almond cookie was pretty tasty.

So – is Spoon and Stable worth the hype? Absolutely. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.  Just call a few months in advance. In fact, I have a few friends that are coming at the end of August – so I may have enough time to book brunch. Credit to BK for all the pictures and to my lovely dining companions – let’s do it again soon.

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