Jfood decided that a return visit to Craftsman was a good idea since it was a Monday night when many places are closed, he promised himself he would try the Charcuterie after hearing so many great things about this dish from MSP hounds, and he was hungry.
Instead of following the Garmin and getting lost for the third time, Jfood exited 35W at Lake St and drove across. What’s the deal with clearing main streets in MN? This would never be acceptable in CT and it has been days since any precipitation. Parking was not to be found in front so Jfood parked on 43rd St, which was even worse with the non-plowing. But this is a food site so let’s get to the good stuff.
The restaurant was serving about 20 people as Jfood entered and he chose a high table near the bar. The same server as his last visit arrived at his table, they schmoozed a little and then Jfood mentioned he was absolutely ordering the charcuterie and looked for suggestions for the entrée. She initially suggested trout, but in the dead of winter, that was not something Jfood was looking for and then she mentioned the venison (she did likewise on the last visit and Jfood was eyeing this as well). Jfood ordered the Charcuterie plate for the appetizer and the grilled red venison leg with pumpkin barley risotto and roasted cipollini onions for his entrée.
The meats arrived. It included 7 different meats ranging from sausages to slices. Included on the plate was spicy mustard and housemade sauerkraut. As Jfood sampled each of the meats, he was glad that he chose this as an appetizer. The breadth of the flavors were fantastic and the bread that they gave to him was a perfect accompaniment. Jfood would highly recommend this dish as a shared experience for a group of people in addition to other appetizers that might be ordered individually.
After a brief pause, the server brought the venison steak. Now the menu calls this a “leg” but it is more of a “filet mignon” that was cut in two. There were no bones, no leg look-alike features, just a beautifully prepared piece of meat. The mound (very large) of pumpkin barley risotto was centered on the plate and three darkened onions sat to one side. Jfood first tasted the risotto. This had a grainy flavor with a small amount of pumpkin. Jfood liked this part of the dish. Next Jfood took a slice of the venison. This was perfectly cooked to his medium-rare request, with a nice crust on the exterior. The meat was flavorful, extremely tender and Jfood thought it was excellent. He cut a piece of an onion and tasted. They were glazed in a balsamic and as Jfood swallowed he felt some heat remaining on his tongue. It was a badly executed attempt at combining many taste elements. Cipollini onions are so flavorful that the vinegar and chili powder that were included overwhelmed the true flavor of the onions. This was just a bad idea on the part of the chef. Jfood continued to enjoy the venison and the risotto, but not the onions.
So, once again Jfood highly recommends Craftsman, a gem on East Lake St. Ask questions of your server since they know the offerings, definitely share the Charcuterie plate and enjoy one of the varied entrees.
4300 Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406
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