With so many wonderful restaurants and chefs in the Twin Cities area, wouldn’t it be great to sample the best of each chef’s menu? By choosing off a tasting menu, you not only get to enjoy the ambiance of these great restaurants, but the chef’s best choices have already been selected for you. Listed below are some of the most popular tasting menus in the area, with most of these restaurants also focusing on local, Midwest ingredients.
528 University Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Price: $48 for three-course tasting menu, $38 for four-course vegetarian tasting menu
Located near University Avenue, this restaurant specializes in tasting menus. The entire menu changes every six to eight weeks while continuously focusing on local, sustainable ingredients. Each diner is given a menu of choices from which to choose their desired meal. Such delicious options include the possibility of bison carpaccio, parmesan flan, a crispy bean pancake, braised beef short rib and pan-roasted trout. Don’t look past the dessert menu; tastes of Thai-iced coffee chocolate tart, salted caramel cake and peach crumble pie are all worth a try.
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Porter and Frye
1115 2nd Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Price: $80 per couple for three-course tasting menu
In the heart of downtown Minneapolis lies a wonderful restaurant inside the Ivy Tower. A tasting menu is offered each Thursday night, prepared by the Chef Master, along with a bottle of wine to be shared with your partner. Featuring contemporary American cuisine, expect to see local farms and co-ops highlighted on the menu in each dish. Potential offerings include jicama-mango salad, Swedish meatballs, veal leg cutlets and bone-in pork loin. Can you think of any better date night?
Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market
289 E 5th St
Saint Paul, MN 55101
Price: $45 for three-course Fauna tasting menu; $35 for three-course Flora tasting menu
While Heartland Restaurant is known for its Midwest regional cuisine, it has become a local favorite for its attention to organically grown and sustainably raised local ingredients. Chef Lenny Russo has been nominated as Best Chef: Midwest Category by the James Beard Foundation in both 2010 and 2011, and keeps people coming back for more with his nightly changing menu. There are two three-course tasting menus available daily; a Fauna tasting, which features two meat-based entrees and a dessert, and a Flora tasting that highlights the best in vegetarian dining. Check out the ever-changing daily menu on the website.
903 Washington Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Price: $35 for five-course tasting menu; $49 for five-course tasting menu and wine pairings
As what has been called one of the most underrated restaurants in Minneapolis, Sanctuary has one of the best selections of fresh, balanced and adventurous entrees in town. Chef Patrick highlights the best in American-Asian fusion using local produce daily. With a five-course tasting menu available Monday through Thursday, you cannot go wrong with the Sanctuary. Hope to see such favorites like shrimp and avocado ceviche, chilled honey-strawberry soup, lemongrass chive risotto or oven-roasted hen. Conclude the parade of plates with options like carrot-walnut cake, apple-cinnamon bread pudding or cheese and candied nuts.
La Belle Vie
510 Groveland Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Price: $85 for chef’s tasting menu; $150 for chef’s tasting menu and wine flight; $70 for five-course tasting menu; $118 for five-course tasting menu and wine flight
Winner of the 2009 James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest, executive chef Tim McKee is know for his unique spin on French Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant offers two daily tasting menus – the chef’s menu and a five-course tasting menu. While the prices are steeper than most competing tasting menus, Chef Tim’s creations keep customers more than satisfied with their meals. Expect to see a variety of seafoods, lamb, pork, pasta and a beautifully prepared dessert at this tasting. Such dishes like sautéed rabbit loin, fennel crusted soft-shelled crab and grilled beef rib calotte might grace the menu.
Alicia Stewart, a clinical dietitian at a metro hospital in St Paul, MN, has the unique role of working both as an acute care clinical dietitian, as well as an out-patient counselor. She has worked with hundreds of clients on various health topics, including diabetes, weight management, family health, and other chronic health conditions that can be controlled and improved with the right food choices. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.