Restaurants & Bars 2

(MSP) Birchwood Cafe this weekend - Small Plates review

AnneInMpls | Feb 14, 200807:55 PM

Man, oh, man - the Birchwood Cafe really has a winner with their Valentine's Weekend "small plates" menu. If you've looked at their menu and been even slightly tempted, you need to know that it's even better than it sounds.


Mr. Tastebud and I went there tonight and ordered "one each" of the six available dishes, plus a salad. (The mixed greens with honey-pistachio vinaigrette and blueberries - yum!) All of the small plates were good, most were great, and some were insanely orgasmic.

Here's what we ate:

Kumamoto Oysters with Meyer Lemon, Mizuna Salad, and Cayenne.
This dish (three oysters on a pile of microgreens) was my least favorite, because I prefer my oysters unadorned. The Meyer lemon was very nice, but the cayenne stomped on the underlying oyster flavor (which was very very good). I would order this dish again if they would omit the cayenne - or just sprinkle the plate edge, so I could scoop up a hint for each oyster.

Duck Confit in Filo with Spinach and Strawberries.
A large cup of baked filo pastry containing spinach salad, strawberries, and a big heap of duck confit. Lovely! Who knew that duck and strawberries were such solemates? I loved this dish, but I let Mr. Tastebud eat most of it so that I could hog some of the others.

Bacon & Eggs - Quail Eggs with Crisped Prosciutto and Fontina on Honey Brioche
Wow. This was absolutely amazing. Two teeny fried eggs on prosciutto "bacon" and a slice of toasted bread, with a honey drizzle around the plate. It was a small portion, but it's good that we split it, because it was amazingly rich. Rich as it was, if they served this dish during the day, I'd be back there tomorrow for more. Plus, those tiny fried quail eggs are adorable.

Porcini Mushroom Risotto
A cup (or more) of mushroom risotto. Very tasty. They have a heavy hand with the truffle oil - perhaps too heavy - but we gobbled it up anyway.

Buffalo Tenderloin with Pink Pepper-Chocolate Cabernet Sauce,
Brussel Sprout Leaflets, & Pinenuts
This dish was truly lovely. A small slice of buffalo on toast, surrounded with greens on a plate decoratively drizzled with sauce. I could have eaten an entire plateful of the brussel sprout leaflets, but the buffalo and sauce was fabulous, too. My second favorite dish of the night.

Lobster Ceviche with Avocado and Grilled Pineapple
The first taste of this dish almost made me faint, and I started singing love songs to the cooks. It was large molded circle of a grain-based salad (farro? bulgur? red rice?) topped with a generous amount of avocado, bits of pineapple, and a huge heap of lobster. Heaven! I wish they would add this dish to their summer menu.

This wasn't a cheap meal - $75.00 for the two of us, including the salad and two glasses of house wine. But it was some of the best food I've had in the Twin Cities. Ever. Really. I'm not kidding.

But rush right down - it's only available for the next two days (evenings only).


[EDITED TO ADD] P.S. Size-wise, each small plate is an appetizer portion, and is large enough for two to share. But each dish is pretty rich - eating all six, even between two people, made for a very rich meal. It's good we had that salad. We definitely couldn't even consider dessert - even though they had several tempting, heart-shaped options. But I don't regret a bite. If I could, I'd go back tomorrow night to do it again!

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