Technique at Le Cordon Bleu – Mendota Heights {Closed}

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Where can you get a three or four course meal for $10 – $15?

Technique Restaurant!

Students training to become culinary professionals through Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School have the opportunity to practice the techniques they’ve learned in a hands-on environment known as Technique Restaurant. Diners have the opportunity to try high quality, gourmet meals for a fraction of the price!

The Minneapolis (Mendota Heights) location of Technique Restaurant is usually open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday, depending on what is planned for each class. It is recommended to go online to Open Table to make a reservation to make sure that they’ll be open when you want to dine. Special occasions and groups are welcome!

While there is a sample menu online, the actual menu is determined by the students when they receive the ingredients. I love this! This means that the ingredients are fresh and that the chefs get to use a little of their own creativity in preparing the meal.

Still, for this reason, I decided not to go to Technique with my husband on my first visit due to his allergies to fins and feathers. Instead, I went with my friend Jared this past February.

Everything about the experience was utterly perfect.

From the ambiance, to the service, to the wine, to the perfectly portioned, cooked and seasoned food, everything was wonderful. So wonderful that, when we returned in March, I was disappointed. Jared reminded me that we were at a restaurant where the chefs and servers were students in training and we needed to cut them some slack. Besides, neither the food nor the experience was bad at all. It just wasn’t perfect. How often do we really get that dining out anywhere anyway? And for the price, nothing in the Twin Cities can top what you get at Technique.

My only regret now…

That I didn’t take pictures of the menu to accurately describe what was prepared!

The Wine

I cannot believe how affordable bottles on the wine list are! No bottle was over $40 and I can’t even remember for sure that anything was over $35. Wines were also offered by the glass.

On both occasions, we started off with a little bubbly rosé. The first time, it was served in a flute. This was how it was served on the second visit.

While the wine list was limited, it included excellent selections to pair with the main entrées. I was highly impressed that a value-priced White Burgundy matched perfectly with our salmon on our first visit. The crisp minerality, yet roundness of this Chardonnay couldn’t have been beat. And a Portuguese red blend? How many restaurants have you been to with one of those on the menu?!

The Food

You’ll be served a basket of French bread with a composed butter. I believe we received a sweeter butter the first time around. However, it was difficult not to eat piece after piece of bread our second time:

Mmmm… Herb & Chive Butter with French Bread. Did we really need that much?!

Jared and I tried our best to order different items since there were two to four items in each course category. That way, we could try many different flavors. Still, both times we each started with the soup. I loved the size of our soup bowl on our first visit – the leek soup was enough to whet the palate with just a few spoonfuls and was quite enjoyable. And while I absolutely loved the flavor of the soup on Visit #2, it was a huge portion and very heavy!

Creamy Potato Soup with Bacon

I didn’t stop myself before my tummy started to hurt. I don’t know if it was because I did a really long run that day or if I just ate too much. I’m sure the two pieces of bread with butter prior didn’t help. However, my tummy continued to tell me that it was not happy, making it difficult to fully enjoy the rest of the meal that night. 😦

The Starters

The Caesar Salad and Thai Flatbread we had on Visit #1 were uber-flavorful! The Caesar was topped with perfectly-cooked shrimp and a crispy parmesan garnish – both nice little touches. And how I wish we could have ordered that incredible Thai flatbread again! Those two starters blew the doors off of what we ordered on Visit #2.

Caprese Salad

So, the Caprese Salad had a yellow tomato. Not my favorite, but a nice culinary touch. The mozzarella slice on top of the tomato was fried. What was strange about that was that it wasn’t warm. It was cold. Like the salad. I think the contrasting temperatures would have worked much more nicely. The flatbread we tried on Visit #2 isn’t even worth talking about. We missed the Thai Flatbread!

The Entrées

The entrées we had on both visits were divine and perfectly portioned! (Quality over Quantity!) Everything was perfect about the Salmon on Visit #1. So much so that I wish I would have been taking pictures and notes then! We both ordered the filet mignon on Visit #2:

Filet Mignon with a tomato coulis, thin asparagus spears and the perfect number of fries! (No, I hadn’t touched them yet!)

Cooked closer to medium than medium rare, but an excellent cut of meat. I thought the tomato coulis would just be fancy ketchup, but it was a sauce to die for! I don’t know if I’ll ever find/taste something like that again.
The Desserts

These two desserts I could normally “take or leave”, but they were decadent and lovely – and just the right size. Still, I brought leftovers of the cheesecake home to my husband, who declared it “one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had.” Or maybe I said that.

Strawberry Cheesecake

Fresh Berry Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

Even if you have a less than stellar experience at Technique, it’s going to be better than any other restaurant where you’d pay $15 for an entire meal! And as Jared commented: It can give diners even greater joy knowing “you are helping the community and helping train the next generation of great chefs!”

Need a cheap, but impressive date night or a place to take out of town guests? Give Technique a try! You won’t regret it.

Cheers~
Carrie

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5 responses »

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