After reviewing Dara's piece on Thanksgiving restaraunts, I got the idea to dine out for Thanksgiving this year. I've become increasingly interested in the dining experience, and me and Mr. H decided to make it our own family holiday! We chose a restaurant called Enjoy! in Apple Valley. After reviewing a suprisingly extensive list of Thanksgiving restaurants on opentable.com, we chose Enjoy! due to their Thanksgiving menu. I've never had the pleasure of doing a "course" meal, and was eager to try this out. The menu normally offers mostly steak, seafood, and chicken; pizza and sandwiches for lunch, and seemingly very high quality. I was intrigued. They may still have the Thanksgiving menu up here:
It doesn't list it here, but the ham/turkey dinners were $22.95. The additional entree's were more, from $28-$35 - but you still get a 1st and 2nd course with it.
I had read some reviews about this place before I went, and the parts about it being...large were right. It can reportedly seat 400 people. It reminded me of the (old) Santorini, with different rooms, and a gorgeous patio. The patio is seriously awesome. It runs the entire length of the restaraunt, and has several fireplaces throughout. We were seated in a large booth, and it was decorated beautifully. I wish it weren't so dim, I'd have loved to get decent pictures. Especially the chandelier, with all sorts of decorative balls and such hanging from it - it was festive and lovely.
I don't go to "fancy" restaraunts much. While this certainly is not a stuffy white-tabelcloth place, it is very modern and grand. I ordered a Root 1 cabernet sauv. (one of my favorite brands - was pleased to see it on the menu) at 7.50 a glass (one of thier cheaper by the glass wines.) We were both craving a good Thanksgiving meal, but once I saw the salmon stuffed with crab and brie (with champagne and vanilla bean butter sauce, mashed potatoes and asparagus) I caved. It's not often I can afford that sort of thing, so I decided to go for it. Mr. H was feeling traditional and opted for the turkey dinner (with mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce.) For the first course, you basically got a choice of salads, or butternut squash soup. Mr. H got the enjoy! salad (pears, gorgonzola, walnuts and citrus vinagrette) and i got a normal salad (mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions) with asian vinagrette. For dessert: pumpkin pie, pecan pie or maple creme brulee. Mr. H got pecan pie, and I maple creme brulee.
Mr. H's salad was far superior, as you can see. Nuts, strong cheese and acidity are always a great pairing. My salad was lackluster. The vinagrette was too sweet and tart. One thing I am noticing more about vinagrette's is the tartness. I know it's supposed to be acidic, but not to the point where my mouth prunes up. I did appreciate the mixed greens, and the large plate they were served on. Restaraunt pet peeve #37: getting salad in small bowls/plates. I'm a mixer, so half my salad ends up on the table/floor. Give me room to mix my greens!
Mr. H's turkey dinner was a super delicios Thanksgiving feast. From the turkey: all white and not a bit dry, to the stuffing which was soft and mooshy, salty and savory (i like my stuffing mooshy) and the mashed potatoes which were fluffy, earthy and needed no seasoning - it truly was awesome. If I cooked my own thanksgiving feast, I would want it to taste like this. Low on the frills and high on the flavor, this is what "fancy" food should be. Presentation is nice, but unless you're presenting sushi, fondue or maybe an ice sculpture, good flavor needs no masks.
My crab and brie stuffed salmon: I struggle to describe this food. I haven't come across many salmon that I like. They are a stronger tasting fish, and I don't have a very seafood-ready palette to begin with. I took my first bite, and got a rush of such decadence, using cliche adjectives seems moot. The salmon was flaky and meaty, the crab and brie inside added a deep richness that makes you feel as if you're being super naughty. And that sauce - I have never, ever had a sauce like that before. I tasted it quite a few times with just my finger, and asked Mr. H- "what is this again?" It was champagne-vanilla bean butter sauce. Normally I don't care for anything vanilla, but this sauce magnificent. The mellow vanilla countered with salt and butter make the perfect sauce for this piece of fish. The asparagus was cooked perfectly, and the earthiness paired with the vanilla sauce composed a suprising balance of flavors: sweet, salty and savory. The potatoes were also wonderful - not lumpy, not artificial tasting, not bland and not too light. This is seriously one of best, most decadent dishes I've ever experienced dining out. Halfway through, I was already getting stuffed. How do the judges on Iron Chef eat 10 courses??? Here comes dessert!
I only had one bite of Mr. H pecan pie, but it was quite good. It was very sweet and "caramel-y", but I liked it for being my 1st pecan pie ever.
Maple Creme Brulee: Very few things give me as much happiness as a good creme brulee. Especially the crackley top. That toasty, burnt taste against the cool, creamy custard inside is (in my mind) one of the perfect texture and flavor contrasts in existence. This was a good creme brulee. I couldn't taste much maple, and when I was eating the custard, it coated my mouth a bit. I remember asking Mr. H - "Why is it kind of making my mouth oily?" he said "Well that would probably be all the fat from the cream." I think I might like a lighter creme brulee than this. But the topping was perfect - nice and toasty and sweet. YUM.
After 3 courses - I was very stuffed. However, I don't regret dining out for Thanksgiving. I tend toward the non-traditional anyways, and this was a perfect and delightful meal. If you have a good amount of cash to drop, I would highly recommend this place over many other "fancy" places Downtown Mpls.
Everything. Especially the fact we stayed so long that when we left, the employees were eating their own Thanksgiving meals at the bar.
The not so greats:
It's kind of a hike, being in Apple Valley. But worth it for a small food "getaway."
15435 Founders Ln, Saint Paul, MN 55124