The Most Highly Anticipated Restaurant in Minneapolis

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As long as I’ve lived here {OMG, has it been 13 years!?}, I’ve never heard so much hype about an upcoming restaurant as I have Spoon & Stable. Naturally, with my love of dining out, I was anxious to try it. My expectations were high!

However, the wait list for reservations was about three months! What is this, New York City? Minneapolis does have an excellent restaurant scene, especially for being the Minne-Apple; but this is generally unheard of in our Twin Cities.

So you can imagine my excitement when my friend Kim picked Spoon & Stable as her choice of restaurant for our monthly Girls Dinner Night Out in January.

We had no reservations, but we had heard that if you arrive at opening, you can get a seat in the bar area. And you know that’s what I prefer!

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We arrived right before opening and there was already a small line. They opened the door to let us in out of the cold. A minute or two later, a few people came in and tried to walk right past us, rather than standing in line. They were trying to get to the bar, thinking we were waiting to be seated for our reservations. I stopped them in their tracks! HA!

It felt like there were 1700 people at the door waiting to greet us. When that happened to Rob and me at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, it felt like we had stepped back in time. It was all part of an experience. Here, it felt overdone. Perhaps it was just because new restaurants tend to be overstaffed at first. Spoon & Stable had only been open a couple of months. Not having worked in the restaurant industry, I’m not sure what the average time frame is to iron out the wrinkles.

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As you know, I’m not expert restaurant reviewer, I just give my impressions. To be quite honest, my posts on restaurants are often just to assist my memory on what we liked or didn’t like… or remind us what we thought looked good so we can order upon return.

Spoon & Stable incorporates a menu that changes with the seasons, which is concept of which I’ve always been fond.

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The night we visited Spoon & Stable was amidst my 10-day Not-a-Detox. This is when I was abstaining from alcohol, cheese, sugar and refined carbs. Normally, I will let things slide for an experience like this. I am a true believer that anything has its place in a healthy diet, as long as it is in moderation. The trouble was, at this point, I wasn’t practicing such moderation. So my 10-day Not-a-Detox was meant to prove to myself that I could live without these trigger foods of mine for 10 days.

While there are no guarantees that what I’d be eating would be without these ingredients, I was going to try my best to work with this menu. This also meant that I was not partaking in any adult beverages. I did scan the wine list, which was quite pleasing. I believe Jen and Kim split a bottle of Pinot Gris from Oregon.

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Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

When the warm bread arrived to our table, I was not going to partake. Then Jen reminded me that it was whole wheat! I ripped off a small piece and indulged.

We assumed that this would be the type of meal where we would want more than an entree. I considered the side order of broccolini, as a healthy choice. {I know, right?!!!} But decided it probably wouldn’t be worth it for $8.

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Instead, we all got starters of some sort. Jen went with a salad.

Belgian Endive Salad pears, stilton cheese, pecans, sherry vinaigrette 9

Belgian Endive Saladpears, stilton cheese, pecans, sherry vinaigrette $9

Kim and I both went with choices from the “Chilled” section of the menu.

Dill Cured Salmon* roasted beets, horseradish, pumpernickel 14

Dill Cured Salmon roasted beets, horseradish, pumpernickel $14

That Dill Cured Salmon dish was so beautifully plated. However, it wasn’t what Kim was expecting. I remember her saying that there was something bizarre about the dish. With our menus gone, it would have helped for the servers to describe the ingredients in the dish when they were delivered to the table. There are always additional, often intriguing, ingredients that aren’t listed on the menu at innovative restaurants like this.

My dish was also a plate of beauty!

Day Boat Scallop Carpaccio* green apple, shiso, chilies, scallion vinaigrette 16

Day Boat Scallop Carpaccio – green apple, shiso, chilies, scallion vinaigrette $16

I am a lover of scallops and can honestly say that I’ve never had them prepared this way before! I was very excited about it; but when I dug in, it took several bites before I got any flavor. “Where are the chilies?” I thought. Well, a few minutes in, I tasted them, but that lasted about two bites. That was kind of a bummer.

As a side note, I love this beautifully written review of Spoon & Stable by Paige from Alcohol by Volume. Although she compares her bar experience to Sitting in Coach, I didn’t exactly feel that way. But maybe I was caught up in my conversation with my girlies. The service was fine; however, I do agree that a bit more dish description would have been nice. I remember us commenting about that while eating. I would say that Tongue in Cheek does a much better job on this front.

Then onto our main entrees. Jen’s was another beautiful plate.

Slow Cooked Atlantic Cod* black garlic, za'atar spice, couscous 25

Slow Cooked Atlantic Cod – black garlic, za’atar spice, couscous $25

Kim and I ordered the same dish:

Grilled Heritage Pork* savoy cabbage, pork crackling, papaya salad, thai chilies 28

Grilled Heritage Pork – savoy cabbage, pork crackling, papaya salad, thai chilies – $28

I have one thing to say about this dish – BORING. It was devoid of all flavor. I wouldn’t order this again. What’s funny is that after we started eating, a server brought this out:

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She said, “You can choose to do what you wish with that! Eat it or not!”

What a strange thing to say. If I remember correctly, she said something about it being the piece off the bone. Huh?! This was the most flavorful meat of the whole dish! If I had a plate of that pork, I’d be recounting my meal differently. Maybe I don’t know what part of the pig it is. Of course, the crackling tasted like pork rinds.

When it was time for dessert, I ordered coffee.  Because of that, I don’t remember what these desserts are that the girls ordered.

I believe Jen really enjoyed hers and Kim wasn’t that impressed. Beautiful, but not memorable. To be honest, none of us were very impressed with our food at Spoon & Stable. So what’s all the hype? We dropped a bunch of dough for some food that hadn’t much flavor.

One of my favorite reviews of Spoon & Stable is by Mpls St. Paul Magazine food writer Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl. She tries very hard to remain honest and neutral in this review.

One particular quote that stuck with me because it mirrored my own thoughts, “But there were more dull dishes than magical ones.” Yeah, that pretty much sums it up for us.

I also love how she says everyone has a different context by which to judge Spoon & Stable. It’s true. I’m not sure what I expected, but I assumed there’d be flavor. That was my context.

A few weeks later, Rob and I used a deal voucher for another restaurant in downtown Minneapolis:

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The voucher included a three-course meal for two at Workshop. Every dish blew me away. It was one of the best meals I had had in a really long time. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos that night. So I can’t give you a true Restaurant Impression. {Their menu changes, too!}

Interestingly, Spoon and Stable has been nominated for a James Beard Award for best new restaurant. That can’t come without merit. But in my world, both the food at Tongue & Cheek and Workshop rank higher than Spoon & Stable. Still, is it fair of me to judge on one visit?

That all being said, I’d go back. I hear that there is a great cocktail program. I’d bring my husband at opening, we’d sit at the bar and maybe order an app or two. That’s what I’d do.

What’s been the most highly anticipated or hyped restaurant where you live?

What were your thoughts?

Cheers~
Carrie

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2 responses »

  1. Ugh, to pay $28 bucks for an entree that was so so would have pissed me off too. I don’t understand it either, how some restaurants seem to WOW the critics and most of the “everyday” folks like us just don’t get it. And we know and love food! Oh well, you got to catch up with the girls though! 😀

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