Peninsula Restaurant – Minneapolis, Whole Fish Preparation

I have been wanting to try one of the whole steamed fish preparations at Peninsula Restaurant and finally got the opportunity to do so. They offer 5 different steamed fish types to choose from including Red Snapper, Chilean Sea Bass (not whole), Flounder or Walleye. Those of you who want to try this but don’t want to deal with a whole fish should choose the Sea Bass. (Though a whole steamed sea bass would be spectacular, I am not sure there is a steaming device or appetite large enough for this).

We tried the house special “Peninsula Steamed Fish” with Red Snapper. This was a very mild dish lightly steamed in soy sauce. The fish was delicious. But be warned it is presented table side with the head and tail.

Peninsula Whole Fish

On my next visit I would like to try one with a bit more heat. If you like it hot I would go for one of the whole fish with curry or tamarind sauce. Here is a direct link to their online menu.

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a Rebours Restaurant Closes

Just learned that a Rebours restaurant in St. Paul has closed. I had some great lunches there in the past few months. I think the location was just a challenging situation for them. The food there was excellent.

I guess Fhima closed as well but that is not as much of a loss or a shock. Went there 2 times and thought it was just as average as all the other Fhima restaurants that have now also closed.

 Read about the closing here

La Crema – 2003 Sonoma Coast Syrah

I am not normally a big syrah fan, but I opened this the other night and thought it was really good. Especially considering its price point at $18. Not sure if you can still pick up a 2003. I have had mine in the cellar for a while. It appears that the 2004 is currently available on their web site. I enjoyed this Syrah due to how mellow it was. It was very smooth and fruity with just enough of that leathery Syrah taste that at times I find overpowering with food. I served mine with a grilled beef tenderloin with orange chipotle vinaigrette accompanied by sauteed fennel and yellow squash. It seemed to work fairly well.

crema.jpg

Via Restaurant – Edina, Minnesota

We decided to try the latest addition to the Edina restaurant scene. Via has taken over the old Pizzeria Uno space located on France Avenue across from Southdale. Via is run by the same company that operates Mission and Atlas Bar and Grill.

http://www.viacafebar.com/

I have dined at Mission several times but only for lunch. I find the food and the atmosphere good. Though I am still bitter about the fact that it is the old Aquavit space and well…it STILL hurts me that its gone. But not to fault the folks at Mission, it is a great location for a restaurant and they do a nice job.

Now on to Via. I had some preliminary expectations about the Restaurant. Mostly that it would be Mission with a different name. Boy was I wrong. We had our first dinner there on the second day it was open. Usually day 2 of any new restaurant reveals the tough spots in the service and food. Not so at Via. Granted the dining room was about 1/3 full. So it was not all that busy. The service was almost too good. They were almost too attentive. The space itself is gorgeous. It has a huge 3 room dining area along with a large bar with plenty of table seating and a patio bar with fire pit.
via interior
Our server was very knowledgeable about both the menu and the wine list. We tried several dishes on his recommendation. Our starters included the Coconut Rock Shrimp and the Crab Wontons. The shrimp were prepared well and the range of dipping sauces were nice. My favorite one was the Mango Ginger sauce. The hot chilli sauce was nothing all that unusual. The Lemon Herb sauce was fine but not all that interesting either when compared to the Mango sauce. My biggest complaint about this dish was that the presentation was boring. via rock shrimp

The crab wontons were also good. They were served with curry pineapple and basil. I think this is a great dish to share. Also a good one if you just want to have appetizers and drinks in the bar.
via crab wontons
For entrees we tried the Halibut with golden tomatoes, lemon marmalade, haricot vert and fingerling potatoes. This was delicious. I was curious about the marmalade and how that would be integrated into the dish. It added a nice lemon overtone that was not overpowering. The fish was perfectly prepared along with the potatoes and green beans. I would highly recommend this.
via halibut
We also ordered the grilled salmon with soba noodle salad, shitake mushroom lobster broth and thai basil. I did not sample this due to my salmon allergy but my wife was very pleased with it.
via salmon
For dessert we ordered the mint ice box cake. It was a chocolate covered and came with a raspberry sauce. I enjoyed this because it was chocolate but not to heavy. How can you really go wrong with chocolate, raspberry and mint.
via dessert
We made a second trip to Via for Sunday brunch. This time we had a bit different experience with the service. It was very slow which was challenging since my 3 year old was with us. Via is kid friendly but not in an Edina Grill kind of way and personally I think that is OK. They offer a menu for kids, and seem to have a reasonable selection. My son loved his blueberry pancakes. We tried the asparagus prosciutto omlette. I found the eggs to be very good, but the toast was over toasted and the potatoes were way over cooked. I think they had been sitting in a warmer somewhere for a really long time. Coffee was outstanding. Our server was not nearly as attentive as the dinner service. Must be that the B team is on Sunday Brunch.
via omlette

Overall, I think Via is going to be a very successful restaurant. It will be interesting to see how they evolve over the next 6-8 months.

Peninsula Restaurant Minneapolis – Return Visit

We had a very nice dinner at Peninsula recently. I had only been there for lunch in the past and I wanted to try more of their extensive menu. I find it difficult to remember the dishes by their authentic name so I will also give you the English translation. They have the entire menu on their web site.

http://www.peninsulamalaysiancuisine.com/

We started with 2 appetizers. The first was ACHAR (Malaysian pickled vegetable salad with peanut sauce). This was a recommendation from the person I was dining with. I did not like this at all. Not because it was not prepared properly. It was just not for me. It is like a cold, curry pickled vegetable concoction that was somewhat chalky and covered with peanuts. If you like those combinations (at the time I thought I did) you’ll love this.

Peninsula Minneapolis

We also tried the PENANG LOH BAK (Crispy fried spiced pork roll, taro, fried tofu & shrimp pancakes). This was really good. The fried pork roll was nicely prepared. I am not a big tofu fan but it worked nicely with the dipping sauces it came with. It also had pickled, ducks eggs. They are the black wedge-shaped objects next to the spoon in the photo. This would be an intimidating thing for most Minnesota diners. I will eat almost anything at least once … so I tried them. I have to say they were not what I was expecting. They were light and flavorful and tasted very much like hard boiled eggs.

Peninsula Minneapolis

For entrees we tried the THAI GREEN CURRY SHRIMP (Thai coconut curry with Thai eggplant, lemongrass, green beans, peppers, fresh basil leaves & shrimp). This was fantastic. The curry was spicy but not overwhelming . All of the ingredients were really fresh and perfectly cooked. I could eat this dish 3-4 times a week. They did a really nice job on the shrimp. If you go and you like coconut curry it is a must order item in my opinion.

Peninsula Minneapolis

We also ordered the VOLCANO PORK RIBS (Fried & served with Malaysian barbeque sauce). The dish is presented flaming. It is difficult to see in the photo. All around the aluminum foil is a low burning blue flame. The ribs were baby back ribs covered in a sweet sauce. I enjoyed them but would not order this as my entrée since it comes with no vegetables at all. It was a nice dish to share.

Peninsula Minneapolis

Peninsula has a nice selection of Asian beer. I was more impressed with the fact that the beer was fresh and did not smell skunky from improper storage. It seems like every time I order a beer of this variety in a restaurant it is bad. I rarely drink wine with this type of food so it was a nice detail.

Overall I think that Peninsula offers some of the best Asian food in the city.

The World’s Best Risotto Cake

OK so I stopped into JPs for a drink and they were kind enough to let me sample their new Risotto Cake with Duck Confit. This was making me really disappointed that I was going somewhere else for dinner. I really enjoyed this dish it would be a great starter on a warm day. Light, fresh and flavorful. The sweet corn and sherry vinaigrette were a nice touch.

JP American Bistro – Minneapolis MN - Summer Harvest Menu

Thanks Andrew!

Also…if you are in the mood for a nice Red Burgundy I would highly recommend the domaine noellat, fixin ’02. It is a very versatile wine and seems to go well with most things on the menu.

domaine noellat, fixin ‘02

Saffron Restaurant- Minneapolis, MN

We had an awesome meal at Saffron Restaurant in Minneapolis. Saffron is a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Inspired restaurant with a French sensibility.

www.saffronmpls.com

The restaurant is located on 3rd street North right across the street from 112 Eatery in the old Jazzmine’s space. Those that have lived in the city for a while will remember that Café Solo also occupied that space at one time. There are few fine if any fine dining restaurants that offer this type of cuisine in the Twin Cities. What impressed me most was our server’s understanding of the menu and his ability to pair wines with the dishes. He recommended that we share all the dishes. This was a nice way to evaluate the range of the menu. We will be going back again to sample more of the menu.

Our server recommend several items. We started with the traditional Mezze. It was a collection of small plates that included Turkish Olives, A cucumber salad with Persian cheese, a spicy eggplant concoction that I can’t remember the name of , hummus and a perfectly prepared breaded scallop. The scallop was the hero of the bunch. I highly recommend this if you go and they are offering it.

Saffron Restaurant- Minneapolis, MN

Next we shared the Green Salad. While the title does not sound all that inspiring, the dish was really good. Simple in presentation served with roasted grapes, banyuls vinegar and goat cheese fritters. If you are a goat cheese fan you’ll love this.

Saffron Restaurant- Minneapolis, MN

We also tried the Blue Crab Salad with Spicy Curry, Avocado and Citrus. This was a nice dish for a hot day. It worked reasonably well with the White Bordeaux the server recommended. The curry was not all that spicy but it was flavorful. I enjoyed the hints of citrus throughout.

Saffron Restaurant- Minneapolis, MN

We decided to share a main course and went with Beef Strip Loin. It came with a smoked potato gratin, oyster mushrooms and a taleggio fondue. I was sold as soon as I saw talleggio fondue. There was no way I was leaving there without trying that. I love tallegio and it is not often that I see it used as an ingredient item on a menu. I am a big fan of using it in risotto. Needless to say it was really good with perfectly prepared beef and potatoes. Our server paired a huge Malbec with this and yes it was as big an chewy as the cheese was.

Saffron Restaurant- Minneapolis, MN

For dessert, we tried their chocolate mousse cake. Overall I would say that dessert was the weakest part of the meal. It was good but nothing about it blew me away. I would have been fine with more Taleggio fondue and a spoon.

Saffron Restaurant- Minneapolis, MN

I will be interested to see how this restaurant evolves. The location is difficult and parking can be challenging and inconvenient even though the 4th street ramp is nearby. It is great to see a new fine dining restaurant that is not a bistro, Asian or Italian inspired. I have my fingers crossed for a more formal tasting menu a Saffron in the future.