In the dead of the winter, when spring seems still like months and months away, all Minnesotans need to enjoy the little things in life to keep them going. For me, it’s good food and good wine. Last nite, I enjoyed just that. With a Saturday nite off, a very rare experience for me, my husband and I stepped out on the town for a little small plate enjoyin’, wine sippin’ evening. Because we are small plate kind of peeps and do enjoy a fun atmosphere, I recommended 112 Eatery in Minneapolis. Located in a dark little section of the hopping downtown scene, 112 Eatery is just the place for small bites and good sips.
The menu, which is loaded with fun ‘want to try’ kind of bites. From cold cuts, fois gras salad, sauteed sweetbreads to full entrees like buttermilk fried chicken and a 1# lobster plate. While everything look delicious along with the wine list which varied from a fun lite easy drinkin’ white like Picpoul (which I had, yum!), the always good Pine Ridge Chenin/Viognier (my husband had) to a gooey Malbec and into a couple of Pinot Noirs and Cabernets – the decisions on what to eat and drink were difficult.
Here’s what we had…The duck & radicchio salad, which was absolutely fabulous with it’s crunch and little bits of duck layered in between the bits of vegetables. I oohhed and awwed with every single bite. My husband had the romaine leaves with Roquefort, which had a great element of heavy earthiness to it (I’m guessing from the style of Roquefort). As we moved on, we had the cauliflower fitters (delish!), stringozzi with lamb sugo (so wonderful), and the Chinese fried eggs.
Chinese fried eggs? you say…one of the best things I have had in forever. Sometimes, I’m a bit harsh on the Twin Cities Food Scene, picking on dishes that I saw on either coast 10 yrs ago. But this morning I say – tired of the food scene in Msp?, take your butt to the 112. OMG, the eggs – which were just the way I love them – sunny side up with fried crispy edges. Here’s the secret, they were bathed in an oyster sauce with freshly sliced jalapenos and scallions! Un-freekin-believable. I am telling you, you have to have them.
The wine…because we were having an array of foods for the nite and well, so many flavors – I choose what sounded good to us – the Pierre Amadieu Vacqueras. Vacqueras, a southern Rhone (France) appellation is such a great region to pick up – what I call – a Cotes du Rhone on steroids. The red wines are, by appellation limit, at least 50% Grenache while the other half usually consisting of Syrah and Mourvedre. The juice is dark, meaty and sometimes very tannic – this one last nite, full with minerals (awesome with the duck salad!) and lush with crushed velvety marionberries, raspberries, currants and over ripe plums. Very very good and for only $43 on the list!
Did you think that I was leave you without telling you about the two amazing desserts we had?? Tres Leches Cake, come on…so wonderful soaked in a heap of heavy cream, rich, and seductive. And my favorite, the Nancy Silverton’s Butterscotch Budino. Nancy Silverton, who I just saw in Aspen this past summer @ the Aspen Food + Wine Classic, is business partners with Mario Batali and a crazy gourmet foodie. And this, her recipe, taken on by 112 – is just a little pot of heaven. A creamy, silky, gorgeous pot of butterscotch. So good I think I licked the end of the pot! Even though this little pot of gold stole the show, it was the last pairing we put together that made it even more heavenly. Paired with a Sangiovese based Vin Santo. Vin Santo, an Italian dessert wine made from grapes that are vinified after leaving them to dry to concentration on straw mats. Seriously? The wine with the butterscotch, was just about the best darn thing I’ve had in a restaurant on the Minneapolis/St Paul food scene. The sweetness levels balanced themselves out, leaving nothing but little glittering stars in your mouth and one big swelling belly!
If you haven’t been to this hot little spot 112 Eatery, you must go. And here’s the fun part…the chef: Isaac Becker, was just nominated for the James Beard Award for his food.
My vote’s in, Sir Isaac!