Brasserie Zentral

With just a day to go here is your Twin Cities fine dining report for May.

Brasserie Zentral is a new entrant in the revitalized downtown Minneapolis restaurant scene, born of the same team that owns and runs Meritage in St. Paul. Where Meritage is French the cuisine at Brasserie Zentral is a modern(ish) take on central European food, with the emphasis seemingly on Austria (or at least the Austro-Hungarian empire circa 1910). If your notion of Austrian food, like mine, is largely drawn from The Sound of Music and specifically “My Favourite Things”, you will be pleased to know that their menu features crisp apple strudel but perhaps less pleased to learn that their schnitzel is presented sans noodle. But, on the whole, you are likely to enjoy what you eat. That is to say, we had a very nice dinner there last week, a month or so after they opened (which seemed like a reasonable amount of time to wait before going–they’ve already received a fair bit of positive buzz though).

The space is casual but nice enough (though you do have to take a trip to the bathroom just to get a load of the lobby in the building the restaurant is in). There are large booths and tables and an open kitchen and a fancy bar that was not seeing any custom at 9 pm on the Friday night that we were there; indeed, the restaurant as a whole was not terribly busy–we had reservations but wouldn’t really have needed them. Perhaps the word isn’t out yet, perhaps it’s the construction ongoing on the outside, perhaps other people are being even more prudent than us with timing; or maybe central European food isn’t a very sexy proposition. This last is actually true at Brasserie Zentral: it’s not sexy food but, to reiterate, it is quite good.

Here is what we ate (there were four of us)—click on an image for a larger slideshow with captions:

As you can see, the portions are midwestern. In a few cases (the pork, the gnocchi, the sides with the duck) there was a little too much on the plate, and the presentation sometimes suffered. Far be it from me to suggest that portion sizes be smaller but I would almost rather have eaten three smaller courses than two courses of the sizes we got (not counting dessert).

All of this plus a few beers and two glasses of wine came to $340 with tax and tip. Not cheap but completely in range with the competition.

A quick note on service: it was excellent. Our waiter was friendly but professional, i.e not over familiar; present whenever we needed him without being obtrusive. And our few questions were fielded ably.

On the whole, a very good meal and based on it I would recommend it highly. And we’ll back at some point.

One thought on “Brasserie Zentral

  1. A very interesting interview with Russell Klein (head chef/owner of Brasserie Zentral) on Heavy Table today. He takes some shots at restaurants that do “modernist” cuisine:

    In any field, it’s important that someone push the boundaries, and Grant does that. But there are a lot of restaurants in this town who do those kinds of things — or cook out of the Alinea cookbook, or whatever — and you know, they’re not Grant Achatz, they’re not going to pull that off.

    I dunno. I like Piccolo a lot, and I also liked my meal at Brasserie Zentral a lot.

    Like

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