I posted yesterday looking for a place to go to break the fast with my girlfriend, looking for something suitably date-y and convienient to our digs in St Paul. Despite peoples rec's for signature cafe and al vento, i couldnt help myself and we ended up at the heartland wine bar . . .
and boy am i glad we did. they were quite busy when we arrived but we got one of the last two available tables without any trouble. service could have been a bit quicker but there was only one woman working the quite-full room so it was understandable. we stared with the cheese samples, and i have to say, that for 10 dollars it was very ample. The all wisconsin arrangement included a blued chevre, a washed rind semi-soft and a delicious half goat half sheep (not mixed) cheese separated by a nice line of ash. the house made crackers that came with were excellent, as was the accompanying tomato chutney, with distinct and totally on point hints of garam masala.
next we had a salad of organic greens, roasted beets, walnuts and a smoked tomato vinagrette with house-cured proscuitto which had been crisped until it was light and cracked under any substantial pressure. our only complaints weren that the dressing was a bit sweet, though balanced nicely by the delicious bacony goodness of the prosciuttio, and that the prosciutto was so crisp a tiny bit of it flew off my plate as i tried to split it to share a piece with my girlfriend. there were almost tears.
duck-liver mousse with kolrabi and carrot slaw and eggplant mostardo was fantastic. somewhat ironic choice that reminded me of my grandmothers chopped liver but waaaay better (sorry bubbe). for 10 bucks we got two large quinelles, but insufficient crispy rye toasts - had to ask for an extra brioche roll - damn those things were good.
finished by splitting an order of the barley risotto which was bitter and earthy in a fabulously wintery way. perhaps a bit out of touch price-wise at 18 bucks considering the relative value of the rest of the meal.
all of this, with a glass of amador valley zin from california, for 60 bucks before tip. it wasnt empty when we were there, but with all the discussion of places hurting, it was nice to have a quick, reasonably priced, and very very tasty meal.
both the cheese plate and mousse were steals at 10 dollars, and would make a great snack with a glass of wine, or awesome companion to a bottle.