I was in Minneapolis a couple weeks ago and had an incredible meal at the James Beard Winner (Best Chef – Midwest: Isaac Becker), Bar La Grassa. They offer many wonderful options in the theme of “small plates”…but as we know in the Midwest, not much is small. These are more like 65% of an entree size portion. The space is welcoming with dark wood tables and floors, a large kitchen-side steel bar and a lot of natural light (there’s daylight in May until after 8:15pm).
Now, the main focus: the food!
CALAMARATA with RAW TUNA – a fiery red/orange sauce on the pasta topped with raw tuna, this has some kick, but the mixture of temperatures and textures is fantastic.
ORECCHIETTE with BRAISED RABBIT – the braised rabbit had a richness more akin to a pork shoulder or chicken thigh in soup. Either way, a real treat.
FARFALLE with BRAISED TRIPE and SWEETBREADS – some people are scared of sweetbreads and tripe, but not me… For those that are, this is a very approachable dish and one that will allow folks to try these two delicacies.
SILK HANKERCHIEFS with BASIL PESTO – The pasta is incredible with a soft, ripeness that’s only possible in fresh pasta. The pesto is a wonderful match both due to its ‘stickiness’ and balance.
ST. LOUIS PORK RIBS – How do you go to the midwest without having ribs or steak? These ribs are marinated and then dry-rubbed for cooking. Just picking one up causes the meat to fall off the bone. It’s a great mix of tomato-ey backbone, spice, and meatiness.
SEARED SEA SCALLOP with BLACK RICE and GREMOLATA – scallops are a hard dish to get just perfect, but this dish was just that. The gremolata provided the acidic balance to really open up the flavor.
SOFT EGGS and LOBSTER – My favorite dish. The eggs were mixed with giant chunks of lobster and a fair amount of butter too. I tasted a hint of something like truffle, but can’t be certain. It was that je ne sai quoi that made this dish, I suppose. Either way, this should be a breakfast staple once a month.
Dessert was good, but clearly the main focus is the savory portion of the meal. This place is worth braving a Minneapolis winter night to try.