I had to come to Fargo, ND to have the best scallops I’ve ever eaten.
I didn’t expect this. After reading the boards, and scanning the rocs, I was hoping to find ‘decent’ And when I realized the place that gets the most mention, the Fargo Cork, is actually the Fargo Cork and Cleaver, part of a chain, the sinking feeling deepened. The HoDo gets a lot of mention for cutting edge cuisine, but their small plates listed things like fried calamari and hummus. Now, no matter how good the hummus is, that isn’t gonnah do it. I’m sure it is a fun place, but after having to eat at an Applebee’s the night before, I wanted real food.
Sarello’s kept getting mentioned, but no website. I like to shop a menu first, but everyone kept saying anything on the menu was great…I decided to take a flyer.
The place is quiet and low key, low lights, simple, yet comfortable wood chairs curve to fit your back.
I arrived in jeans, without a reservation, a party of one single woman. They greeted me like royalty, told me they had a table waiting for me, and led me right in.
My server was friendly, but not obsequious, and enthusiastic about any menu questions I asked. I settled down with a $7.50 (!)glass of a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to make my final decision.
Now, the place isn’t cheap, and some of the menu items (the $35 Sea Bass) were above my budget…I had been nibbling at a food show all day, so I figured two appetizers would suffice…I asked the waiter if that would be enough, or if I needed more. In Boston, a scallop appetizer is often one, or maybe (and MAYBE) two scallops. He said that was plenty, which may have been the understatement of the night.
I ordered a menu app of scallops and shrimp, simmered in Red Curry sauce with vegetables, which came out first. A truly outstanding dish, maybe a little more Asian in influence than I would have expected in a Mediterranean style place, but spicy and bright, with three big perfectly cooked scallops, and a couple of large shrimp…..I could have eaten this with a salad, and called it dinner
But then I would have missed the star of the night, a special of scallops, (the chef likes scallops) briefly seared on a bed of truffle-oil infused cauliflower topped with shavings of Parmagiana Reggiano.
Every ingredient was perfect. Period.
I’m a Boston girl, and these seas scallops were fresh, sweet, and most importantly, dry-packed, for those of you who know what that means. No excess moisture, and the sweet flesh formed a caramelized crust the instant it hit the hot grill, leaving the inside almost cool and translucent. It’s rare that you get a scallop this good that’s even better cooked than raw, but this was it…I think my eyes rolled back in my head. The earthy truffle flavor just enhanced the cauliflower puree, which stayed warm more than long enough to melt the shreds of wonderful Parmaggiano. I was really in heaven.
Oh yeah, and the dish had four scallops. More than I was served the last time I ate a scallop entrée at Grotto, one of the darlings of the Boston hounds…
Another glass of the fabulous sauvignon Blanc, and my entire bill came to $42.
Amazing.. I have to admit, I made a pig of myself, but I couldn’t leave any of it uneaten. It was amazing that this high-end a place was serving this much food; if I went back, I could be perfectly happy with a salad and one of their appetizers, and I have never been known for my delicate appetite.
But I would even spend bigger bucks here; I just can’t imagine how good the rest of their food must be.
The owner, and the chef, met working on a cruise ship (I can’t remember if he said Holland America or Norwegian; it was after the second glass of wine)…The owner, Tony, met and married his wife working on the ship, and decided to settle down in Fargo, which is her home. He got in touch with a chef friend named Chris, who had been cooking in Toronto, who agreed to join him for this venture…Cooking on a cruise ship must be a great training ground, that’s all I can say. This chef is sourcing fabulous fresh fish, in the middle of the country, and cooking them with a sensitive touch that is rarely seen in cities, and restaurants, known for their seafood. If you are in Fargo, run, do not walk to this place.. It makes the trip worth it!