Thursday, March 18, 2010

W.A. Frost and Company – St. Paul, MN

This will be a long review – I just warning you now… It was St. Patrick’s Day and D.Rough and I didn’t feel up to dealing with amateur drinkers this night. We had both purchased Groupons for W.A. Frost and were looking forward to going there and using one. We had been to Frost for some afternoon drinking (and she had gotten a sandwich from there for lunch once), but we hadn’t experienced the dinner atmosphere there and we heard it was pretty nice. It was a beautiful night, so we walked from her place (after pounding a couple of Jameson and Baileys each – yeah, mixed together – told you we weren’t in the mood for amateurs).

The inside of W. A. Frost is really nice. Not swanky snooty nice, but classy and warm nice. Dim lighting, without being mafia-dark or happy-cheery. Just elegant. I ordered a scotch while D.Rough powdered her nose and scanned the menu while I waited. Glenrothes 1991 – one of the best scotches I’ve ever tasted. I will be buying a bottle or three of this – wow. I already knew what I wanted food-wise, which I will explain in a second, but I wanted to see what other things they had, check out the specials, and see if I could figure out what D. Rough would order. There are lots of tasty sounding things on the menu, but I kept looking at the "Chef's tasting menu". 6 courses of amazing-sounding food. When D.Rough returned, I casually mentioned she should at least LOOK at the chef's tasting menu before deciding on something.

The reason I knew what I wanted was due to the fact that D.Rough e-mailed me earlier that day with an excited message about one of the dishes containing Kabocha Squash – my favorite squash in the world. What? You’ve never heard of kabocha squash? Weird. Hahahaha. We came across kabocha squash in a bag of Terra Chips (those dehydrated vegetable crisps that are marginally good for you). I loved them and they’re super colorful. Well, one of the dishes on the menu was a variety of pork served with pureed kabocha squash. SOLD!

D.Rough went back and forth on the 6 course meal and we were worried I’d be eating by myself for a part of the meal (and that it would be a lot of food). We asked the waitress (Elise, who is awesome) when she came back if they could space out my meal pieces to align with the 6 courses and she assured me they do it all the time. So to make things simple, D.Rough got the chef's tasting menu (which I will go into detail on)(and which we knew we would be sharing most of anyway) and I ordered the Potato Wrapped Quail Roulade, a salad of Winter Lettuces (NOT pronounced Lay-TOO-chays, despite my insistence), and I ordered the Trio of Minnesota Duroc Pork (since 2010 is the “Year of Three”). I commented on how excited I was to have the kabocha squash (yes, I’m THAT guy), and Elise said she’d never heard of it before seeing it here and was surprised that I even knew what it was. We explained the Terra Chips thing and she wrote it down and is going to try them herself. We rule. A nice glass of Malbec (Argentina) for the lady, and a nice glass of Pinotage (South Africa) for myself.

The first course arrived and apparently, we both got one, so I was excited. It was a tiny cup of soup, but it was really quality. It was an Apple-Celery Root Soup with Smoked Star Prairie Farms Trout, Julienne Radish, and Dill Oil. I’m not normally a seafood guy of any sort, but I love to try things. D.Rough assured me smoked fish is more palatable to haters like me and she was dead on – she’s a foodie and knows things about things. I really liked the soup as a whole and even the fish bits (which weren’t large or numerous). Very good texture, and the dill oil was a nice finishing piece to this soup. Excellent starter to the night (actually, the amazing scotch was the best starter, but we’re talking about food now).

The next dish was my Potato Wrapped Manchester Farms Quail Roulade and D.Rough’s Crisp Roasted Duck Confit. Mine first. First off, beautiful presentation on the plate. I don’t usually notice, but it was masterful. Three quail pieces wrapped up in a thin crispy potato roll (again, the Year of Three). I’m not sure if it’s a strip of potato that’s been fried or what, but it was delicious. It came with oven roasted grapes, tangerine-frisee salad and a ruby port reduction. Amazing flavor wrapped in a crispy bacon-inspired wrap. Seriously good appetizer.

The duck confit was even better though, if you can believe it. Medjool Date and Stickney Hills Farms Chevere Tartlet and Moroccan Vinaigrette. It appeared small on the large plate, but I remembered she had 4 more courses coming, so I wasn’t too alarmed. She had one bite and proclaimed “This is F’N GOOD!” She gave me a bite and I reluctantly agreed hers was better than mine – and mine was delicious. Really juicy duck with all kinds of other flavors going on from the chevre tartlet. The best duck I’ve ever had was in Paris… until now. W.A. Frost, you win.

The next course came out and looked great. Mine was a selection of winter lettuces, sliced pears, glazed walnuts, Stickney Hills goat cheese, medjool dates, and sherry vinaigrette. This was a serious salad (even though I got the smaller size). It was also really delicious and a great mix of flavors and textures.

D.Rough’s next dish was Pan Roasted Diver Caught Sea Scallops with Crispy Hidden Streams Farms Pork Belly Confit, Apple-Madeira Puree, Broccoli Rabe, and a Jalapeno Vinaigrette. D.Rough tried the pork belly confit first and really liked it a lot. Then she tried the scallop next and really liked that. Then she tried both and I recall hearing even more swearing about how amazing the food was. I was fortunate enough to get a couple bites of this dish and it truly was awesome. Great mix of flavors with the soft insides of the scallops and the crispiness of the seared part and then combined with the saltiness of the pork belly confit – simply brilliant.

The big meals came out and we probably heard some sort of “Eye of the Tiger” theme music in our heads as the fanfare (actually, D.Rough probably heard Lady GaGa in her head, but we won’t judge, will we?...). D.Rough’s dish was a Duo of All Natural Angus Beef – a grilled New York Strip Steak, Braised Short Ribs, Yukon Gold Potato Puree, Sauteed Escarole, and Beet Jus. She started with the NY Strip and we were both pleasantly surprised at how good this was. Really tender and juicy and pink without being bloody or chewy. Great pieces of meat. The better part was the short ribs – absolutely fell apart when you touched it with a fork. We didn’t get steak knives here and now we know why. You don’t need them to cut anything. Perfectly cooked short ribs and we’d both order these again anytime.

I will try not to ramble on about my own dish, but it’s going to be difficult. The reason I got it was clearly the kabocha squash portion. In fact, I don’t even think I looked to see what the different pork dishes were going to be. I just now realized that… hmm. Anyway, here’s what I got – Roasted Tenderloin, Belly Confit, Crispy Pulled Pork Strudel, Cassoulet of Giganda Beans, Kabocha Squash Puree, Sauteed Escarole, and Sherry Gastrique. This was one of the best dishes I’ve ever had. Everything about it was brilliant. The tenderloin was amazingly moist and tasty. The pork belly was cooked to perfection – crispy with a tiny bit of fat for flavor. And the small wrap things (which “someone” referred to as Taquitos! – which was hilariously accurate) were the pulled pork strudel. I’ve never had pork prepared this way and I don’t think anything will ever compare to it. It was exactly how pork should always be prepared now. Light crispy shell on the outside with super flavorful meat on the inside. Simply amazing.

The next course for D.Rough was a cheese plate that we split. It was Fourme d’Ambert, with a Bitter Orange Marmalade, Micro Greens, Lavasch, Glazed Walnuts, and Garden Farme Honey. It was almost a mild bleu cheese and tasted really quite light and good. I preferred to eat mine with the micro greens (which were a cross between clover and sprouts) and flat bread, but D.Rough liked hers with the honey and marmalade. This was a nice light refresher before dessert. Yes, we still have one course left.

The dessert was a Trio of Mini Desserts (again, the Year of Three – sense a pattern here?). There was an Organic Carrot Cake, Classic Crème Brulee, and Chocolate Fudge Cake with Coconut Ice Cream on top. We split the Crème Brulee between the both of us as we are both fans. It was awesome and of course the most fun part is bustin’ through the crystallized sugar on the top – which D.Rough does a splendid job at. I got more of the carrot cake and was really happy with it. It was quite good (although, the carrot cake that D.Rough’s mother made may have been slightly better). D.Rough seemed to like the chocolate fudge cake more than I did, so she took care of most of that.

The wait staff was very attentive to us the entire time. The water boy/server reminded me of Justin Timberlake and was pretty good at explaining what each dish he brought us was made up of. He was a very good server. On the downside, whenever he would come back and take our plates, he’d make comments about how impressed he was that we finished everything on the plate. EVERY TIME. It’s not like we’re gluttonous sows or anything, but comments like that are cute once, then they’re borderline rude. Still amusing, but rude. The waitress seemed genuinely glad to serve us (probably because we’re not stuffy old white people) and said so after the meal. She was really good herself and made sure we had everything we needed. Thank you, Elise!

I’m REALLY glad we walked to dinner as we were absolutely stuffed to the gills after this enormous meal. Yes, like uncomfortable-stuffed. It was worth it though. We went home and kept complaining about how much we ate and how it would be months before we could eat that much again. Then we’d talk about how awesome the food was and how we’re looking forward to going back with the other Groupon that we have – hahahaha. Seriously, go to W.A. Frost and Company. It doesn’t matter if it’s for an afternoon drink In the bar or lounge downstairs, or for lunch on the awesome patio, or for a painfully large gorge-session in the dining room. You will not be disappointed at all. It is top notch.

Top 5 things about W.A. Frost and Company
1. Trio or Minnesota Duroc Pork
2. Crisp Roasted Duck Confit
3. Potato Wrapped Manchester Farms Quail Roulade
4. Duo of All Natural Angus Beef
5. No drunken d-bags dining with us on St. Patrick’s Day

Bottom 5 things
1. It’s a tad pricey, even with a $50 Groupon, we still hit well into the triple-digits – still worth every cent
2. Comments about us finishing everything on the plate – doesn’t everyone? Why would we leave awesome food?
3. The snooty people behind us talking complaining about his wife sitting in a box at the Wild game or about his crotch scar from his angioplasty, or any number of annoying loud conversations
4. The patio is ALMOST ready to be opened for eating
5. D.Rough lives too close to W.A. Frost for us to adequately walk off the amount of food we consumed by the time we got home. If she lived in Wisconsin, we might have been comfortable when we got home


Elise E. said...

Hey! I waited on you guys on St. Paddy's day - and I did indeed enjoy being your server! I wanted to point out for your readers that what "D.Rough" experienced on Wednesday night was the "Chef's Tasting Menu". The "Prix Fixe" menu is only three courses and is an "early bird special". (It's only available from 5 - 6 pm for $28). I'm so glad you enjoyed the Glenrothes '91. We have a huge scotch selection so please come back to sample some more! Look forward to seeing you on the patio this summer!!

Chao said...

Thank you, Elise! We had a great time. And I fixed the review to show the correct menu now. I appreciate you fixe-ing that for me! hahaha. We will be back, and we'll probably ask for you to help us. Hope you can deal with us again.

Elise E. said...

You're welcome! And I'd love to see y'all in my section again sometime soon. (And I will tell the backservers not to comment how much our guests eat!)