Jfood decided to forgo the MSP Fair last night after a long day and head to Saffron at the recommendations of many MSP Hounds. And he was extremely disappointed that he waited so long to enjoy what Jfood will call one of the best meals he has ever eaten. The idea that he has parked in front of this restaurant, only to be disappointed not to obtain a seat at 112, and drive elsewhere wants to make him want to beat his dumb head against a wall.
And if you read his review a few weeks ago when he mentioned that there is a theory that says if a restaurant is empty leave, because it is probably not that good, was totally without merit after Jfood's most enjoyable meal. When he arrived at 7PM on a Monday night (a usual off night in MSP) there were two ladies at one of the far tables and no one else. Jfood sat at one of the high tables near the door, received the menu and a description of the three-course tasting menu and was asked for his drink order.
Since Jfood was in a hurry and with one glance at the tasting menu he knew that was the perfect choice, he did not even look at the regular menu but went with the tasting menu. Although it was August 31, the chef decided to start the September Tasting Menu a day early. It consisted of Salmon with crab croquette, sweet corn curry and shellfish jus, Beef Hangar Steak with potato gratin, blue cheese, roasted black olives and heirloom tomatoes and finished with a Peach and Goat Cheese Tart with cherry-black pepper sorbet. All three courses were priced at $30.
The server brought over a breadbasket (two types of nicely warmed choices) plus a plate of hummus. One bite of the hummus told Jfood that the chef had a great hand, was not afraid of flavors and was willing to go bold. He was not afraid to add a fair amount of garlic and it also tasted as if the chef used a fair amount of Tahini to obtain a great rich flavor to the beans. A light olive oil was drizzled over the top. It was a great way to start the meal.
The salmon arrived and it was beautifully presented. From bottom to top. A wonderful green curry with small kernels of sweet corn, a 2” square piece of salmon and balanced on top was a round crab croquette, slightly smaller in size than a golf ball. Jfood's first bite was the corn-curry. Wow, this was great, full of flavor of a smooth curry, balanced with the sweetness and crunch of the corn. Then Jfood decided to try the crab and he was not disappointed. It was crispy on the outside, moist and warm on the inside with great flavors of crab coming through. If Jfood had one criticism of the dish it was that he thought the crab was a tad salty, and Jfood likes salt. Now onto the main event and the salmon. The chef cooked this perfectly in Jfood's opinion, just to warm through the fish, not to cook it. It was still translucent and a darker shade of pink, moist and flavorful without the loss of flavor from overcooking. Absolutely perfect. Now Jfood decided on the tri-fecta. He placed all of the elements carefully on the fork and took a bite. Everything worked great together. You can tell that Jfood really liked this dish.
The Hangar steak arrived and it was a long horizontal presentation versus the vertical presentation of the appetizer. From left to right were 6 small slices of hangar steak cooked very rare (just a head’s up to people who like it cooked more), a mound of heirloom tomatoes, red and yellow, with some roasted olives on top with crumbled blue cheese, and on the right were two gratin logs. Jfood made an heirloom tomato panzenella this weekend so the tomatoes were his first bit. Jfood loves tomatoes and blue cheese and the addition of the roasted olives made this element even better. Next was the gratin. The chef was very light with anything other than the potatoes and it worked well with the boldness of the blue cheese from the tomatoes, no fighting going on and the gratin was cooked perfectly. As Jfood moved to the beef he was a little concerned about the doneness, but one bite allayed his fears. The meat was almost a cooked carpaccio, still very rare/raw in the middle. It sat atop a very mild cheese sauce (think ½ teaspoon for all the pieces), which gave the meat a great balance. Jfood will also say this was one of the best dishes he has eaten.
The dish was cleared and the dessert arrived. The tart was about a 2” round, not very large and the cherry sorbet sat on the other side of the plate. Jfood's first bite was the sorbet. Now he understands that this is a new hot thing in cooking, adding spices to sorbets, but it is just not Jfood's thing. He wants the sweetness of the fruit in the sorbet to come through and the pepper was a turn-off to Jfood. The tart was fantastic. Four nice slices of peaches in a sweet pastry, it was just enough to satisfy Jfood's sweet tooth.
So in conclusion Jfood adds Saffron to the “A” List of restaurants in MSP. The meal last night rivaled Alma as Jfood's #1 choice in MSP. He cannot say enough about Saffron.
Thank You MSP Hounds.