Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Haute Dish (HauteQue Soul Hut Pop-Up) – Minneapolis, MN

[Editor’s note: The following appears to be a fluke/freak incident where we had a bad experience and everyone else in the world had a fantastic experience. Keep this in mind when you read what appears to be the only less-than-raving review of Haute Dish ever written. And, don’t let this jade you from going and trying their regular menu! That being said, I’m writing about one specific experience, knowing that it’s not the regular experience from everything I’ve heard from friends about this place.]

Some friends sent me an article about Haute Dish doing a 4-day pop-up restaurant this week. When they saw it was BBQ-themed, they knew I’d be game for trying it out. For those unfamiliar with a pop-up restaurant, it’s more-or-less someone coming in to an established restaurant and cooking a wildly different menu than usually served there. Basically, to try some new things out or give an aspiring chef ideas about what works and doesn’t work in a restaurant setting. In this case, it was the chef from Haute Dish, Landon Schoenfeld, with a few ideas from pop-up phenom Erik Anderson. Some local articles mentioned cheating on the bbq, which is completely understandable. I get that they’re not set up with pit smokers to cook meat for 16 hours or anything. No knocks against the guy for making some adjustments, right?

We walked into Haute Dish and immediately saw a giant painting of fancy John Goodman in the waiting area – it isn’t really him (it’s Fernand Point, father of modern French cuisine), but D.Rough saw it and fell in love with it, anyway.

I will also apologize in advance as I realized I’ve become a BBQ snob in recent months. I blame HotGirlsBrother.

The comprehensive beer menu has Blast on it, but not the Colt 45 Blast, be warned. It’s an imperial IPA from Brooklyn Brewing in NY. The restaurant has a great beer list with tons of microbrew selections. Lots of stuff from Victory Brewing, which I think is part of the pop-up part of this promotion. The fantastic server steered me clear of the beer I thought I wanted. He brought me a sample and told me people were not pleased with it. I won’t mention the name of the beer, but he was 100% right with his recommendation. He suggested something else which was really delicious, and he warned D.Rough about their gimlets being strong, as well. Very bourbon-y and he was right (not in a bad way at all). Really, a super helpful server.

Atomic Chicken Wings – We asked before ordering how hot these atomic wings were (we like flavor, not just heat) and the server assured us they were good. Thankfully, he was right. The wings had a lot of meat on them and the sauce was spicy, without being painful and flavorless. While not mind-blowing, they were pretty good.

Mac and Cheese – Really quite good. It was baked in a little tin with some bread crumbs on top. Good texture and good cheese flavor. Best thing on the plate.

The Watermelon, Tomato, and Cucumber salad had peanuts and some creamy white dressing/sauce (could have been yogurt, or sour cream, or anything) delicious!

Jalapeno Spoonbread – I love spoonbread, but this wasn’t good. The less hot that it got, the more it tasted like I was shoveling butter into my mouth. There was zero jalapeno in this, not even a hint of the jalapeno flavor nor a speck of green in the gritty mush.

Brisket – The worst brisket I’ve ever had. At least 70% fat and even had some gristle in there to power through with my knife (butter knife, so judge accordingly). Flavor wasn’t even decent, thankfully, but the sauces were necessary to cover the fatty texture and flavor. I’m not sure how anyone in the kitchen could have looked at this brisket, seen the massive amount of fat on it, and sent it out to a table anyway.

Ribs – I fought the meat off the bones in this 4-bone mini-slab. The smoke flavor didn’t come from an actual smoker, but rather from a bottle. A little bitter and the aftertaste of fake smoke. As I said earlier, they cut some corners since they don’t have giant pit smokers running 16 hours a day, so I get that. But again, more fat than was worth eating, and I was pulling a lot of gristle out of my mouth and putting it on my plate after almost every bite.

Pork Belly – The fat didn’t dissolve like in almost every pork belly I’ve ever had. You had to chew the fat. A lot. It almost tasted undercooked, like a raw ham or something. I was really looking forward to this, since I’m a huge fan of pork belly.

The sauces were quite good – Jalapeno, Bacon, and Maple sauce was just ok. A little thin and might have been with bacon drippings/fat.
Sorghum, Mustard, and Vinegar - second best, and really good. I don’t even like mustard, but it wasn’t a strong mustard flavor.
Tomato, Coffee, and Raisin – amazingly good. None of those three strong flavors stuck out – it was the perfect blend. Very thick and delicious.

Despite most things on the plate not being very good, it did not jade me from Haute Dish’s regular menu and I’m still looking forward to eating there. I’ve been especially encouraged to check out the weekend brunch menu they have, so I’m looking forward to that. I’m a big fan of the 3 strikes you’re out rule, and this was my first experience. I won’t blame customer profiling (though I do joke about it), but maybe someone just had a bad day back in the kitchen. Not a problem. I simply feel bad writing a negative review for a place that regularly receives rave reviews from people I trust. So take this review with a grain of salt – I’m just reporting my particular experience this one time.

…And then, since Haute Dish is next to Sex World in downtown, Minneapolis, we saw a garbage can outside with an adult DVD in it.

Top 5 things about HauteQue Soul Hut Pop Up
1. Mac and Cheese
2. Fantastic server
3. Atomic Wings
4. Watermelon, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad
5. Very unique and delicious sauces

Bottom 5 things
1. Brisket
2. Pork Belly
3. Ribs
4. Jalapeno Spoonbread
5. Bad first experience here – which I’m sure will be remedied the next time we go back!


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