Jfood was back in MSP and for his inaugural return dinner he decided on one of his favorite places, 112 Eatery. As he drove to downtown Minneapolis, he began to imagine the flavor of one of his favorite cheeseburgers. When Jfood arrived he was happy to see a couple of seats at the downstairs bar and he once again assumed the role of “Norm from Cheers”. The only choice he needed to make was which appetizer to enjoy before the main event. On this night he chose a new dish, the Sautéed Sweetbreads in Porcini & Clam Sauce instead of his normal Tagliatelle with Foie Gras Meatballs. And, of course, he ordered the great French Fries with the cheeseburger.
Sweetbread – The kitchen must have been slammed, as it was over 30 minutes before the dish was delivered, so when the dish arrived Jfood was both hungry and anxious. He first tasted a clam with the sauce. The clam was a bit chewy and the sauce was extremely pungent. Jfood was not sure how this was going to work in combination with the sweetbread. He cut a piece of the sweetbread that looked perfectly sautéed from the outside. Wanting to taste the delicate flavor of the sweetbread he decided not to try it in combination with the sauce. Although the outside was nicely sautéed, the texture of the sweetbreads was a little different from previous sweetbread dishes. It was a bit gelatinous and it was a little weird in texture but the flavor was delightful. Next he took a bite of both the sweetbread and the sauce. This combo just did not work for Jfood. The sauce overwhelmed the sweetbread’s delicate nature. Independently they were very good but together it was not a favorite for Jfood.
Cheeseburger and Fries – The cheeseburger arrived on its English Muffin with two slabs of brie on top of the burger. And the enormous cone of fries occupied significant real estate at the bar. Jfood first tasted one of the fries, c’est magnifique. He next cut the cheeseburger in half to help with the elevation process and the inside was cooked nicely, med-rare to medium. Jfood took the much-awaited first bite. The brie was not right for this burger and the burger was way too oniony, almost like biting into an onion burger. But Jfood continued through the first half. By this time the brie had melted into a gooey mess on the plate, on Jfood's hands and eating this burger was quite a challenge. Jfood lifted the muffin-top on the second half and all the cheese had melted onto the plate and the only thing remaining was the rind. One bite into the second half and again the onion overwhelmed this half to the point of Jfood placed it back on the plate. He pushed it aside and settled for eating those perfect French fries. Jfood will also mention that those little pickled cucumbers that they give you on the side are to die for.
Service – Jfood sat at the bar with his book, and he was able to read quite a bit by the time the appetizer arrived. No dish was delivered to anyone at the bar for over 30 minutes. If you are looking for a casual, slow meal, this would have been perfect for you, but you should be aware that it could be very slow. The server at the bar was great and was extremely helpful to the couple to Jfood's right when they had many questions on the menu and wines. He also saw Jfood was in a hurry between the appetizer and the entrée and was very smart to fire the burger early. Very nice job by the server.
When the server removed the half of the cheeseburger Jfood could not eat, Jfood asked him if the head chef was in the kitchen that night. He finally told Jfood that the head chef was not there on Mondays. So in fairness Jfood would also caution that Mondays might not be the best day to visit. The kitchen was slow and the food coming out was not as great as he has enjoyed in the past, but remember the standards that 112 has given to Jfood are quite high.