Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Haute Dish (Take 2 – for Restaurant Week) – Minneapolis, MN

We have friends – multiple sets of friends – that rave about Haute Dish in downtown Minneapolis. D.Rough and I went last year to check it out and  thought we had a fluke dinner that wasn’t so great, so we thoughts we’d give it another try during restaurant week, when many restaurants do a special tasting menu of their best items. And my cousin Houston was in town, so we thought we’d drag him along for fun!

We had reservations, but things weren’t ready when we arrived, so we sat at the bar and ordered some drinks while we waited. After their ten minute wait turned into 30+ minutes, we asked about our reservation and, despite seeing some empty tables, we got sat in the furthest section of the restaurant. I mentioned customer profiling in my last review of this place, and I’m starting to get suspicious about it, frankly. We then waited almost ten minutes for someone to come over and take our order. By then, we were clearly ready to pick our first, second, and third course from the Restaurant Week menu options. 

The first course had two options we were both excited about – the third option was a South Dakota style salad, which apparently is a wedge salad. Yawn. We ordered a Steak and Eggs appetizer and a Char Cuts (charcuterie) appetizer. 

The Steak and Eggs was a decent sized portion of steak tartare, and egg in a hole (which is like an egg soft boiled on top of a piece of toast), and a bloody mary oyster shooter. I started with the shooter. I’m usually indifferent on oysters, but this whole set up was pretty delicious. The bloody mary was almost entirely vodka, which helps, since I’m not a huge bloody mary fan. But the oyster was nice and soft and not chewy – great work on this. The steak tartare was actually pretty good. It was very finely chopped and not ground, which is the difference between something being intentional and something previously chewed. Good seasoning on the meat, though a tad too much onion for my taste. It also went extremely well with the egg in a hole due to the sweet bread that they had turned into toast. 

D.Rough’s charcuterie board was in the shape of a pig, which ruled. It had a cube of head cheese, a slice of terrine, and a couple slices of kielbasa. D.Rough thought the head cheese tasted good, but then she got weirded out about where it came from, so I ate – cha ching! I thought it was better than a lot of head cheese I’ve had, though not the best in the world. I was glad she shared this one though. She liked the terrine just fine and was better with that texture and origin story – I also thought it was pretty good. She really liked the kielbasa, though – I mean, who DOESN’T like kielbasa. Overall, the first course was looking pretty darn good.

The second course, I got the Mac and cheese, which every one of my friends has raved about. It’s sort of deconstructed, apparently, which I didn’t really see. I thought it was more minimalist than deconstructed, but hat’s neither here nor there. D.Rough got the pumpkin stew, which was a curry soup served in a tiny pumpkin.

The Mac and Cheese was a little sub-par (my cousin Houston agreed with me on this point). It’s a large manicotti-style noodle cut into 5 or 6 loops, and filled with taleggio cheese, celery, truffle oil, and two small bits of king crab. It looked like an Italian sushi roll since they put a little red fish roe on the top, as well as some panko or breadcrumb dust. It tasted a little flat, which is odd because I LOVE me some taleggio, and every mac and cheese I’ve had with taleggio has been brilliant. This one failed pretty bad. I’m not sure what it needed, besides some sort of flavor. I almost missed one of my small bites of crab meat, but even that didn’t help with the flavor much. I just wanted something better, and I’ve totally had better mac and cheese. In fact, the mac and cheese I had when I was last at Haute Dish’s pop-up BBQ restaurant was much better than this.

The pumpkin stew tasted fantastic. All three bites of it. There was one piece of shrimp and one small piece of crab in it, but the curry soup itself was really quite tasty. That tiny pumpkin didn’t hold much soup, apparently. Also, our pumpkin may have been a little smaller than everyone else’s. Just saying. D.Rough says they missed an opportunity to make it more of an entrée by cooking the pumpkin, before adding the soup, which left her a little disappointed (and hungry). Second course, not the greatest.

The third course, I ordered the Pig and the Apple – a pork chop, blood sausage, mushrooms, and apple. D.Rough got the Flavor Country Burger, and Houston got the Tater Tot HauteDish. We thought we’d make sure we tried one of everything.

The Pig and the Apple was a disappointment. First off, D.Rough was surprised to see a SLICE of a pork chop on my plate and not a chop like she had seen on other diner’s plates. Secondly, the pork was pretty fatty. Like really fatty. The apple was fine. I also found one small slice of overcooked blood sausage under my chop. The best part of the plate was the half a brussels sprout on my plate. I really love brussels sprouts and this one was fantastically cooked.  This was the worst of the three 3rd courses.

The Flavor Country Burger was interesting. There were a ton of things on it. The menu said everything, and it really had a ton of things on it. D.Rough was surprised at how many flavors were on it, and many of them weren’t really in harmony with each other. I won’t get all foodie on you, but sometimes ingredients don’t mesh well. This was one of them. That being said, the plate came with some very unusual fries. They were almost sweet and sour fries and they were great! I’m still not even sure what sort of seasoning was on them to make them taste that way, but they were worth fighting over. The burger, not so much.

The Tater Tot HauteDish is one of this place’s signature dishes. And it was actually pretty darn good. It’s two house made tater tots with a generous portion of short rib, and mushrooms and green beans. The meat was really quite tender and really flavorful, and the crust on the tots was top-notch. This dish won the night in my opinion. Sadly, it wasn’t mine nor D.Rough’s entrée. Hahahaha

Overall, we were underwhelmed a second time by Haute Dish. We really WANT to like this place and we hope someday that desire will pay off, if we can assemble enough items we like, narrowed down from the failed items. Again, I’m not saying there’s customer profiling, but our plates didn’t look like the plates we saw at the front of the restaurant that we walked all the way through on our way to the back by the kitchen.

Top 5 things about Haute Dish
1. Tater Tot HauteDish
2. Egg in a Hole
3. Kielbasa
4. Pumpkin curry soup (flavor)
5. Sweet and sour fries

Bottom 5 things
1. Pig and Apple
2. Mac and Cheese
3. Flavor Country Burger
4. This the second of three tries we’re going to give this place that all our friends love
5. I’m not saying there’s profiling, but I’m going to let D.Rough go into the restaurant and get a table and maybe order before I come in next time – which I hope is NOT the case

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