For his last meal in MSP this week Jfood decided, at the recommendation of an MSP hound, to re-visit Heartland. It has been over a year since his last visit but Jfood looked at the on-line menu and was excited about the offerings.
Of particular note to his tastebuds were two appetizers, the Grilled chicken-apple sausage with turnip-potato purée, roasted baby carrots and smoked crabapple jam $12 and the House-smoked Duroc pork ribs with wild mushroom-chestnut cornbread pudding and tart cherry-tomato catsup $14. The entrée that really caught his eye was the Midwestern cassoulet of Duroc pork, smoked wild boar, garlic lamb sausage, pork shoulder confit and Nebraska great northern white beans $19
He drove up to SP, found a great parking spot and entered the wine bar side. It was about half filled and the end seat at the bar was open…perfect. The server brought the menu and Jfood was glad to see the choices were all available. Since Jfood is allergic to nuts, he nixed the pork ribs and ordered the sausage and the cassoulet. The server filled the water glass, brought some bread and butter and a amuse bouche, comprised of garlic-pumpkin mousse and topped with a green tomato chutney. The amuse was fantastic. Jfood remember why he loved this place. The bread was not to Jfood's liking, a little too dense, a little too heavy in flavor, but that is purely personal choice.
Jfood was busy reading his McGee book when the appetizer arrived. He continued reading as he took a big first bite. Crunch!! Huh? He looked at the plate and was confused. The reason he did not order the ribs was the cornbread pudding because it contained nuts, and there staring back at him from the plate was none other than the mushroom-chestnut cornbread pudding. Oh crap. He called the server over and asked for the menu because he thought maybe he made a mistake, but nope, the wrong side was included. So Jfood could not stay for long as he would probably break out in hives in about 15 minutes. He told the server and asked to speak with the MOD. It was a while before she saw fit to speak with Jfood and he will return to that discussion below. But Jfood left, went for some Benadryl, and returned.
The server was so professional for the rest of the evening that he must commend her actions, her attitude, her caring about Jfood's health when he returned. She set up a spot at the bar and a new, and correctly prepared sausage dish was brought over. This was absolutely fantastic. The carrots were as Jfood remembered in his Meritage meal, the turnip-potato purée was beautiful and the smoked crabapple jam was divine and flavorful. Amazingly the sausage, which was great, was the weak link in the dish, only because the other flavors were over the top great.
After a short intermission a nice bowl of cassoulet was delivered. Jfood took his time as he savored each and every bite. The beans were perfectly cooked, the meats added different flavors and textures and the chef placed some breadcrumbs atop which added not only another flavor but a crunchiness to offset the smooth textures of the dish. This was one of the best cassoulets that Jfood has ever eaten.
Now back to the failure on the part of management.
Jfood asked to speak with the manager and the server told him she would be right out. She never came out so Jfood wandered over to the open kitchen and asked one of the chefs to please tell the MOD that Jfood needed to leave and wanted to speak with her. She finally came over to Jfood. Here is the conversation
J – I’ve been waiting for five minutes to speak with you
M – I was on the phone taking a reservation
[Jfood's blood pressure rises]
J – You have a customer who is about to have an allergic reaction and taking a reservation is more important?
M – I was on the phone with my husband who is the chef
J – You just told me you were on the phone taking a reservation
M – I had one phone on each ear
[Insert incredulous look]
J – You kitchen had a major screw up
M – They prepared the dish like we did last night. We expect the customer to tell us about all their allergies. We have served people with Celiac disease without any problems
J – I thought it was pretty safe ordering chicken sausage, carrots, potatoes, turnips and crabapples. It was your kitchen that screwed up.
M – We have never poisoned anyone in seven years
J – You just don’t care. I have to go and get some medicine.
Upon his return, the MOD /Owner showed a level of unprofessionalism that is beyond comprehension. She absolutely ignored Jfood. She did not come over to apologize, she did not come over to see if he was OK, she did not come over to see if the food was OK, she completely and totally ignored him. She walked by him as hje sat at the bar numerous times. Unbelieveable.
For this exchange, Jfood will add Heartland to the "Never Return To" list. It is one thing to make a mistake; it is another to act in such a condescending, uncaring and unprofessional manner, to the point of complete and total avoidance. Jfood will speak with his feet and take his money elsewhere. But he will not stoop to her level. The food at Heartland is fantastic, the female server this evening should be commended (she received a sizeable tip) and it is unfortunate that he will not return to enjoy this restaurant.