Last night we had good reason to celebrate and thus The Wife and I decided on a restaurant which would fit such an occasion. After consulting with Minnesota’s most down to earth foodie, MSPD, to find a restaurant which wasn’t overexposed, was worthy of a celebratory meal, and which we could bring along The Rooster he suggested Corner Table, a restaurant I have long wanted to visit due to their organic and local focus but one which I figured The Wife would not appreciate due to the non-traditional menu items. However with their local focus comes a need to highlight seasonal fare and thus The Wife’s favorite fall food: pumpkin. In typical Wife fashion, the pumpkin was the hook and so off we went.
We had reservations for 2.5 at 5:30. We arrived right on time and found the restaurant mostly empty. A small and simply decorated space with vinyl records spinning Dire Straits, Corner Table had me at hello. Our server was bubbly, knowledgeable, and sweet with The Rooster. While Common Roots Cafe’s, another locavore haven in Minneapolis, staff exudes a superiority complex yet unmatched by any other restaurant I have stepped inside, there was none of that at Corner Table. In fact, we felt comfortable conversing with the servers as they moved throughout the space repeatedly smiling at The Rooster and making us feel completely welcome even with a baby.
The menu at Corner Table is ever evolving to match the seasonality of their suppliers and changes about once a week. While this could be a problem for those who are looking to enjoy repeats of their favorite dishes on each and every repeat visit, this was absolutely delightful for me. Based on the reviews others have left for the place, I was apprehensive but open minded. Many complained that it was too expensive for the small portions and even my wife remarked that the CityPages “Best Restaurant When Someone Else Is Paying” award was more like a backhanded compliment than a ringing endorsement.
We looked over the menu dated November 4th, 2010 closely and carefully weighed the specials. We eventually made our choices with The Wife ordering: Pumpkin Goat Cheese Tart with apples, bourbon, and thyme for $8 for a starter and the Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with duck fat fried potatoes, roasted cipollini onions, and tomatillo marmalade for $19 for her entree. I ordered the Bison Carpaccio appetizer special which included hard boiled egg, and sprouts for $9 and the Roasted Trout over Brussels sprouts, bacon, sweet corn, jalapeno, and tarragon for $18 for my entree.
The pumpkin goat cheese tart was a little slice of heaven. Reminiscent of pumpkin cheese cake, this tasty morsel was somehow able to pass itself off as a light and complex treat which could have passed as dessert just as much as an appetizer. The Bison Carpaccio was delicate and extremely flavorful. While I have had plenty of beef carpaccio dishes in the past, this one blew my mind in taste and texture. The seasoning was spot on and gave only a glimpse of just how perfectly the chef used salt in all of the dishes. My sole complaint was that the egg yolk was a little underdone. While I am not squeamish at all about egg yolk, I am going to guess a good number of people would have preferred it done a little more.
With the complaints about portion size fresh in my mind our entrees arrived. The Wife’s Pan Roasted Chicken Breast was definitely not small and was presented beautifully. The cipollini onions were a stunningly deep maroon and the potatoes were glistening with flavor. While I could not see the tomatillo marmalade, The Wife noted it was there and only lightly applied noting she would have had to really try to make sure a little was on every piece of the abundant chicken. The chicken was perfectly seasoned and when tasted with both the potatoes and onions together you could taste each separately in your mouth. A dream on a fork–something which I never thought I’d say about chicken. It was as if the salt had be meticulously placed on the meat and exploded in your mouth only when the chef planned on it making me seriously wonder if he knew in advance how we were going to eat each and every bite.
My Roasted Trout taken by itself was absolutely phenomenal. However, when compared to The Wife’s chicken and our appetizers I have to admit it wasn’t up to par with the other dishes on the table. While the fish was a little boring, the Brussels sprouts were roasted to perfection (just the way I love them) and the bacon and tarragon were clearly evident while the jalapeno and corn were either non-existent or totally overpowered by the rest. While the chicken was ample, the trout was not but still I enjoyed every last bite and nearly licked the plate clean to enjoy each of the unique flavors which were presented.
While I was eating The Wife was already making noise about dessert. The menus were placed in front of us and were definitely not the typical chocolate cake and creme brule that you see all too often. Instead an array of very tasty options were presented with both of us ordering (and as you know if I order dessert it’s for good reason). I went with a lemon cake which came adorned with brandied apple, honey granola, and malted ice cream for $7. The Wife, following the suggestion of the server, went with the Pots du Creme which was described as maple flavored with a shortbread cookie for $7.
My lemon cake was very heavy and reminded me of a very thick cornbread. The lemon flavor was not as overpowering as I expected and provided a subtle hint of flavor which mellowed the very tasty malted ice cream. While it wasn’t my most favorite dessert ever, it was good–a ringing endorsement from me for desserts.
The Wife’s Pots du Creme gets a paragraph all its own because, according to her own admission, it was the best dessert she has ever had and being that her sweet tooth knows no bounds I suggest you heed her opinion. The consistency reminded me of flan or ice cream but The Wife likened it more to a creamy pudding. Never-the-less the texture was heavenly and the taste was spot on. While I could have done without the shortbread cookie, I kept begging for tastes of the cream which The Wife only begrudgingly permitted. The server noted that recently she walked around the corner in the kitchen and was surprised to receive a spoonful in her mouth unexpectedly which she claimed brought her straight to her knees. Normally I would have chalked it all up to hyperbole but after seeing the look in my wife’s eye and knowing my own feelings about the dessert, I have to admit I just nodded blankly hoping to get one of those spoonfuls as I rounded some darkened corner of the restaurant on my way out the door.
The bill, when it was all said and done (which, in addition to everything mentioned above, included a coffee, an overpriced $7 beer, and homemade pumpkin soda) came out to be just over $100 with tax and tip. While not inexpensive, it was definitely not overpriced and certainly would not have shown up on my radar as a place to avoid unless someone else was paying.
Overall, our meal at Corner Table was definitely the best of 2010 and ranks up there in the top five of my time in Minnesota, quite possibly taking the #1 spot. If you have not yet tried Corner Table and are into local, organic foods and an ever changing menu please stop reading this review and get over there right. now. seriously. go. hurry. Their ingredients, seasonings, and flavors are so spot on that I believe I will dream about this meal and elevate it in my mind’s eye to levels unachievable by any other restaurant for years to come.
Have you ever eaten at Corner Table in Minneapolis? If so what did you think? What was on the menu? Was your favorite? Did you have dessert and were they as good as we enjoyed? Whatever you have to say about Corner Table go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
4257 Nicollet Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
Tuesday – Thursday: 5 PM – 10 PM
Friday – Saturday: 5 PM to 11 PM
Sunday: 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM
See all the photos from Corner Table on Flickr here.