For whatever reason, I've had a hankering to go to Corner Table. I'd been to the restaurant twice last year for pig butchering classes, but haven't had a proper meal there. Last night, I made my first trip and it was one I won't soon forget.
I walked in a few minutes before 8 to find the dining room 3/4 or so full. I grabbed a seat at the end of the bar and looked over the menu. As I was perusing, Scott poked his head of the kitchen, looked at me and said, 'Butcher classes?' I told him he was right, not realizing what that moment of recognition was going to lead to.
I wanted to try so many things, but wasn't sure where to go, so I opted for the 5 course, $65 menu. What followed was pure joy.
Amuse - The amuse consisted of a spoon full of radish, Northern Lights blue cheese, chives, and lemon juice - Nice, fresh, bright. I'm not a big blue cheese guy, but that stuff is outstanding.
First - Lardo, pickled radish (?), pea shoots on top of grilled bread - The char flavor on the bread was great, the lardo was buttery, meaty deliciousness. The radish had a little zing to help cut through the richness. Thumbs up.
Second - Pork terrine, pork rillettes, honey mustard, chive, and pickled beans - The terrine was excellent, the rillettes was probably the weakest element of the night. It was a bit dry and had a strong wheat bread taste to it. Good dish, just happened to be the weakest of the 5.
Third - Gnocchi, guanciale, mushroom - Wow. I don't know what else to say about this one. The gnocchi were perfect and pillowy, the guanciale was salty pork heaven. Even the mushrooms, which I generally don't care for, were meaty and awesome.
Intermezzo - Lemon sorbet - A spoonful of perfect sorbet, with a sliver of lemon rind on top. Cold, clean, not too tart or sweet. Great palette cleanser.
Fourth - Rabbit three ways (leg, loin, belly), ginger carrots, sweet potato puree, candied apples - This was, without question, one of the best plates of food I have ever eaten. The leg tasted just like a fork tender turkey drumstick (not a bad thing), and combined with the sweet potato puree, it tasted just like Thanksgiving. The loin was tender and delicious, and the belly was cut in lardons and fried crisp. Altogether, a plate I won't soon forget.
Fifth - Bread pudding waffle, spiced cardamom ice cream, crispy bacon, maple syrup - As I considered what could be on its way for dessert, I started to think I would be disappointed if bacon wasn't used in some way. Luckily, Scott didn't disappoint. The waffle was rich and delicious, the ice cream had a wonderful flavor and cooled the plate perfectly, and the bacon added salt right where it needed to be. And that doesn't even get to the maple syrup...wow. One of the best desserts ever.
As I sat squaring up my tab, Scott came out to chat. He said that as soon as he recognized me, he told the guys to make sure there was as much pig as possible in my meal. How can you not love that? Though ironically, my favorite dish of the night was the one without any pig.
As a final farewell, I left with a pound of bacon and two hunks of that amazing Northern Lights Blue.
What a night. If you haven't been to Corner Table, or just haven't been recently, make a point of getting there as soon as possible.
4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409