When a restaurant has more positive reviews than it has items on its menu, you know it’s doing something right.
And in the case of 112 Eatery, they’ve set the bar on “doing it right.”
Everything from the quaint, private dining space to the careful crafting of its dishes, this place can’t help but knock it out of the park every time. Executive Chef Isaac Becker, already highly noted in this column for his work at Bar La Grassa, really takes dining to a new height with a simple menu boasting complex flavors.
It’s been noted as one of the toughest reservations to get in Minneapolis, but if you plan ahead and go during the week, you’ll have no troubles. At first visit, you quickly realize why the place fills up so quickly. The intimate setting and dim lighting truly earns their reputation as the perfect “romantic dinner spot.” With just a dozen or so tables on the first floor – no real “front door” to speak of – and a very cozy bar, the few candles placed within the restaurant are almost enough to illuminate the whole room.
And with a setting like that, it can sometimes complicate reservations. For example, during my first visit, our reservations were slightly bumped due to a few diners who were feeling comfortable enough to stay the whole night. (No blame to them, I’d gladly rent out a booth for a small studio apartment.)
Instead, we headed upstairs – I didn’t even know there was an upstairs – for a second-floor dining experience. The upstairs dining room also moonlights as a private dining space, used for personal gatherings or receptions, so it was a treat to see what it was like. The entire mood of the restaurant is very inviting, almost like an upscale, elegant cabin. Located in the historic Amsterdam building, the notches of its past can be felt around every corner.
The wine menu was more impressive than I expected, offering everything from a 2007 Pinot Gris for a little more than five bucks to limited bottles of red wine for a couple hundred.
The food menu is a simple, no frills, single-page listing, with little-to-no description – which is both highly elegant, yet for the non-foodie like me, a bit intimidating. Not going to lie, we may or may not have “googled” a few things just to find out what we were getting into. Shameful, I know.
Each item is a bit surprising, as well, with something as high-brow as “duck pate bánh mì” listed next to French fries and cold cuts with pickles. Highly awesome.
Between my boyfriend and I, we decided to go the pasta route and include a side or two for sharing. Having heard amazing things about 112′s homemade pasta, I was pretty excited to see what was in store. We ordered the stringozzi with lamb sugo, tagliatelle with foie gras meatballs and the zucchini with chorizo for starters. (Side note: foie gras is basically like a fatty liver, made from a duck or goose. Thanks google.)
The stringozzi was delicious – a noodle pasta, almost like a thick spaghetti, but infused with a shredded lamb red sauce that added the perfect touch of spice, balancing with its savory notes. The tagliatelle was also highly scrumptious but a tad salty for my taste. The foie gras meatballs, on the other hand, were perfection.
As great as our pasta dishes were, I think we were both overwhelming surprised by how much we enjoyed the zucchini. Prepared almost like pasta, with skinny strands of zucchini, the side dish was packed with flavor and spice. The bits of chorizo added a perfect salty treat to the otherwise spicy zing of the dish.
The meal was everything I was hoping and more. It’s just too bad we ate so much during the main course that dessert was just not an option because that chocolate pot de crème looked good enough to swim in – and yes, I’m not sure why, but when something looks seriously good to me, I have an overwhelming urge to bathe, swim, immerse, etc., myself in it. Just go with it.
From what I’ve heard from others who have wined and dined at 112 – you just simply can’t go wrong. Personally, I am hoping to take that as a literal challenge and try everything until I find something that doesn’t work. I’m guessing – and hoping – that this will be a win-win for me and 112.
Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist at WCCO.COM.