Restaurants & Bars 10

Sunday night prix fixe at Levain (MSP)

fendel | Apr 13, 200806:05 PM

I had been wondering about the prix fixe menu at Levain, so we went a couple of weeks ago and again tonight. I thought I would share some details in case anyone else is curious too.

The menu from a couple weeks ago is posted on their blog at www.cafelevain.com -- first course was a salad of frisee with julienned apples, and some pate (I'm not a pate fan, so I preferred my husband's first course from the vegetarian version, which omitted the pate and added golden beets with local honey). Second course was a golden beet soup with haricots verts, red beet, Fischer smoked ham, sherry vinaigrette, chive, hazelnut oil. Third course, grass-fed strip steak with butter-poached prawn with potato puree and wild mushrooms. (The blog has a more detailed rundown, this is just what I remember.) I thought the beet soup was phenomenal. It's not the kind of thing I would have normally ordered, but I loved it. Frisee was great too. And for me, steak is always a safe bet.

Tonight was a potato soup with mirepoix (very tiny dice as a garnish), breadcrumbs, basil oil, roasted Kadejan chicken, and truffle oil (I don't recall that being listed in the menu, but I knew it had truffle oil the minute they brought me the bowl). I'm getting a little truffle-oiled out, I think I would have preferred the soup without it. But I liked the chicken and garnishes, nice texture additions to the soup. Second course, "crispy Arctic char" with mussels, fingerling potatoes, fennel, tomato broth. I love shellfish but am Not A Fish Person; DH got my char and gallantly offered me his mussels. Third course, braised beef short rib with truffled polenta (see above comment on truffle oil...), brussels sprouts, spinach, and frisee salad. The beef was fantastically tender and full of flavor.

I love food but have a lot of strong dislikes -- most organ meats, most fish, eggplant come to mind. I tend to order the classics. So a tasting menu is usually a dicey proposition for me. A couple weeks ago I was steering clear of the pate and tonight the char, which I felt a little guilty about in a place where the chef can see your plate from where he's standing. ;) (Sorry Adam; but I loved everything else.)

They also have a limited a la carte menu on Sunday nights, where they provide a choice of two simple classics -- beef short rib with potato puree and asparagus; roast chicken; etc. I sure appreciate that option. The prospect of Arctic char almost drove me to a la carte tonight, but I took a chance (I did like the mussels).

The vegetarian 3-course option is $20, the version with meat is $25. Well worth it.

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