Friday, August 23, 2013

Forepaugh’s (Poutine Crawl) – St. Paul, MN

It had been a while since our Poutine Crawl group had congregated, so I just threw one together. Thankfully, a bunch of people said they were in, once I said we were going to Forepaugh’s for some upscale poutine. (For the record, Canadians hate our upscale poutine – it’s meant to be trashy bar food, not classy culinary kitsch in a bar. Those Canadians… all drunk and metric.)

I also accidentally booked our group reservations during Restaurant Week in the Twin Cities. This means there is a special menu available so people can taste a variety of unique one-week-only dishes at a greatly reduced price. Forepaugh’s is pricey, so this is everyone’s chance to pay a much less exorbitant cost and get some amazing food.

Everyone there was going to be getting (or splitting) poutine. I had already warned the kitchen staff when I made the recommendations. Forepaugh’s has two different kinds. The regular version and the “Ultimate Truffle & Foie Gras Poutine”. I told you this place is fancy. I have had the regular poutine and absolutely love it. In fact, it’s one of my favorite in the world. This time, I was getting the baller poutine.

D.Rough and I also had starved ourselves, so we could have the restaurant week tasting menu. I was looking forward to it, in fact. You get to choose one from the appetizer, entrée and dessert sections for each person doing the tasting. We got the Chinese Scallion Flatbread and the Malaysian Chicken Samosas. We got the Forepaugh’s Ultimate Opus Burger and the Pan-Seared Walleye. And for dessert, we got the Deconstructed Banana Cream Pie and the Peanut Butter Crunch Bar. Let the awesome begin!

The Chinese Scallion Flatbread was actually pretty awesome. It was toasted sesame seed puree, fire-roasted chilies, scallions, goat cheese, olives, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. The flatbread had a great cracker crunch to it and the goat cheese was magical on this thing. Really quite wonderful.

The Malaysian Chicken Samosas were probably my favorite thing this trip. They came with a mango dipping sauce and pickled Fresno chilies. These wonderfully fried pillows made my mouth happy. They weren’t greasy tasting, but were packed full of delicious seasoned chicken. And when you added a chili to the bite, it just made the world a perfect place. Order these when you go here.

The truffle and foie gras poutine was good. Quite good, in fact. Not stark raving incredible, but really good. The fries were really crispy and clearly fried the way fries should be fried. Mario, in our group, commented, “You don’t NEED to fry cheese curds for poutine, but if you’re going to, you’d better do them like this.” The foie gras fingers (which slays me to say) were almost lost in the mix of flavors, but it was taste-able when you least expected it. It contained a few chilies to spice things up, but the best part was the red-win pan sauce used instead of gravy. Holy balls, was this fantastic. I’m not sure if it’s a $20 poutine flavor, but it’s $20 poutine ingredients, so maybe it’s worth it.

The Pan-Seared Walleye was a solid dish. It was in a coconut curry with fingerling potatoes, zucchini, hearts of palm, Chinese long-beans, shitake mushrooms, Thai herbs and Fresno chilies. Clearly, it had plenty of fun flavors happening. The super light breading on it was better than most batter’s I’ve tasted on walleye and the additional things they threw into the dish gave it flavors that stood out above any other walleye I’ve had. It wasn’t fish-fry walleye, it was fancy walleye (or as fancy as walleye gets, anyway).

The Ultimate Opus Burger is a serious thing. It also comes with fries, which, after the poutine, I didn’t really need. But the burger was good – two angus patties gruyere, braised short-rib sauce, truffled eggs, greens, tomato raisins, lardon, and bacon vinaigrette. The flavor on the inside was top-notch and worthy of another try at this. The bun, however, was the downfall. It was a onion bun, but it was toasted so much it was almost a giant crouton. So, you weren’t able to crush this thing down enough to stuff it into your face. Bummer and it hurt my jaw opening my mouth and then cut up the insides like Cap’n Crunch when chewing. It also made the rest of it seem dry, until I used up all my sauces trying to lubricate it. Again, this was a top-shelf burger, but I might order it differently the next time – it’s also the priciest burger I’ve seen on a menu – thank you, restaurant week!

The Peanut Butter Crunch Bar was what D.Rough had been waiting for. She’s a big fan of peanut butter and chocolate. This was almost a cheesecake in its presentation and included a Guinness and white chocolate ice cream layer, ginger Chantilly cream, pretzel meringue, and salted caramel. Sound rich? It is. But it’s really good, as well. She was happy with her dessert decision.

The deconstructed banana cream pie I thought was pretty darn good. Chocolate-hazelnut praline, underneath caramelized bananas, vanilla custard, and agave nectar, and two dollops of homemade vanilla bean whipped cream. I’m not even a fan of banana cream pie, but this might make me change my mind. It was delicious. The crust on the bananas was very delicate and the whipped cream was like biting into a fluffy kitten (you know what I mean). A great finish to a seriously stuffing meal.

I think people were pretty happy with their poutine choices. We drank a lot and spent a LOT of money here, but overall, the sentiment was that Forepaugh’s does a fine job at offending Canadians everywhere with their upscale poutine. Looking forward to our next poutine crawl night!

Top 5 things about Forepaugh’s
1. Malaysian Chicken Samosas 2.
Deconstructed banana cream pie
3. Pan-Seared Walleye
4. Ultimate Truffle & Foie Gras Poutine
5. Peanut Butter Crunch Bar

Bottom 5 things
1. Super toasted bun on the Opus Burger
2. This place is pricey, but you’re paying for great chefery and an awesome atmosphere. I'm not kidding about that.
3. Didn’t get to go upstairs and see the haunted third floor
4. I see they have a rooftop patio over the entrance of the restaurant. I would have asked for that if I had known. Next time!!
5. Now, I want to go back for happy hour every day…

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