Piccolo III

sucklingpigOkay, so we like Piccolo a lot. Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that we can only manage one restaurant dinner in the cities each month (living an hour south, with small kids, and a limited fine dining budget) we’ve now eaten at Piccolo three times this year, passing up the opportunity to eat at other local luminaries that we have not yet visited (Corner Table, Meritage), visited in a while (Heartland, 112 Eatery), or which we used to revisit regularly in the past (Alma). What can I say, Doug Flicker’s modernist soul food (though the restaurant might not describe it this way) is in our sweet spot. We haven’t always loved everything we’ve eaten at every meal there but it’s always a stimulating experience.

So it was on this occasion as well (a belated celebration of the missus’ birthday). This was the first meal where we really didn’t care for one of the dishes (and it was the one we’d expected to love) and a couple of other things we appreciated more than we liked; but everything else ranged from very good to transcendentally good. We each got all five courses. Click on an image below to launch a larger slideshow of what we ate with detailed descriptions.

The black cod and the suckling pig were just sensational—dishes like these (and the malt braised beef navel and lamb neck boudin noir from our last visit) make us wish that we could just get regular main-sized portions of them to luxuriate in (especially as they’re not going to be on the menu when we next visit) but you can’t have everything.

There are always through-lines of ingredients at any meal at Piccolo, and on this occasion they seemed to involve pear (in place of the figs featured on the website menu—I would link but it’s going to change soon) and a fair bit of pungent cheese. This last was deployed to variable effect we thought. The époisses worked well with the hanger steak but the bleu d’auvergne and the chévre threatened to throw the dishes they were in off balance. And I remain ambivalent at best about this whole smeared bowl with soup poured into it thing: from a flavour perspective I’d rather the chef figure out the best mix of the ingredients and not leave it to me to muck it up, and I don’t find it visually that appealing either. Still, it’s less unappealing than the gob of spit, I mean foam phenomenon that refuses to die, and thankfully there was none of that in evidence tonight.

All of this plus three glasses of wine, tax and tip came to a little north of $172. Service was excellent—friendly but professional and not over-familiar. And as always, we did not leave hungry.

Where next? Well, there will be no Twin Cities fine dining reports for November or December. In November we’ll be spending our discretionary budget on a trip to Chicago (and our boys will be with us, so no fine dining); and in December we’ll be saving our money for some more sushi goodness in LA over the Christmas holidays. In January we might finally hit up Corner Table. It’s very likely, however, that in February we’ll be back to Piccolo for my birthday.

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