I usually go for lower-brow fare...Maverick's for Roast Beast, Univ. Ave. for Pho, etc... But Saturday night we pulled out the stops and splurged.
We started with some oysters at the bar at Oceanaire. Nice, but 1/3rd were gritty and they just didn't taste particularly fresh. They used to do it better. I went to Starfish in Toronto a few weeks ago and they were a lot better than Oceanaire. I'd say Oceanaire may have lost its' edge over McCormick & Schmick's, which is a damn shame. I gotta find another oyster bar in the Twin Cities.
Then we went for a late dinner at La Belle Vie. First time I've been. It's a huge improvement over 510, the restaurant it replaced in that "classic" building. The service was very smart. They were paying attention to us and how we were eating and drinking. The kind of service that appears as if by magic when we needed them and stays out of our way when we're having a conversation with our dinner companions. Knowledgable, engaged, not obsequious, just stellar, grown up, professional waitstaff.
We went for the 5-course tasting menu and the "sommelier" wine flight. The wines were very good. Well paired to the food, nothing stellar in terms of once-in-a-lifetime memorable pairings, but very good. Perhaps too good and too plentiful. We were a bit wiped out the next day. Some bubbly, I never remember them, but it was clean and tasty. A St. Innocent Chard, Freedom Hill Vineyard, I believe. A Grenache from the south of france that did NOT taste at all like a Grenache. More like a Mouvedre or Merlot. But good and worked with the food. An italian cab/merlot blend that worked well and Adelsheim white dessert wine.
The amuse bouche was a fried squash blossom with a fruit and vegetable reduction (reduced till it jellied) that was interesting and tasty.
The first course was a naked pea ravioli (I saw this on a show about El Bulli) with some kind of yellow foam and a piece of king crab. It was good. The pea thing really did taste like a concentrated fresh pea. The crab was decent, but not stellar (we were in Maine last week eating lobster, this crab was a bit stringy by comparison).
The second course was ... dourade seared till the skin was crispy. The fish was slightly overcooked for my taste, but most would consider it done properly. I cannot honestly recall everything it came with, but it was good.
Then some poussin (young chicken?) cooked very nicely followed by a beef course and then dessert.
It was very good. Reasonably priced for the quality of the food. Maybe a bit fancier than is my ususal preference, even for fancy food (I imagine I'll still go to Alma 5-10x as often as La Belle Vie and Vincent probably 2-3x as often as La Belle Vie), but I could see coming here once or twice a year. I recommend it if you're looking for fancy, Charlie Trotter-esque, Molecular Gastronomy influenced food...it's gotta be this or Cosmos.
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