It’s been just over a year since Brasserie Zentral opened and to mark both their first anniversary and the traditional asparagus season in Europe they presented a special “Spargelfest” asparagus menu for all of May (I’m not sure if the menu was fixed throughout the month or if dishes rotated in and out).
As we enjoy asparagus and, more importantly, enjoyed our previous meal at Brasserie Zentral, when they’d been open for just over a month, we decided to finally go back. It was, once again, quite a nice meal on the whole and the promise of excellent asparagus was kept (this was particularly important as I’d had some not very inspiring white asparagus at Heyday a couple of weeks prior at a work-related dinner).
It was just the two of us on this occasion and we dined late’ish on a Wednesday night—our reservation was at 8.30 and the restaurant closes at 9. The restaurant was not exactly busy when we arrived and when we left, a little before 10, we’d been the only diners for quite a bit of time. I don’t bring this up to imply anything about their business—you don’t really need reservations anywhere in the Twin Cities on weeknights and I’d wager there are few high-end places that are very much busier most Wednesday nights.
Given how empty the restaurant was, however, I wish they’d seated us somewhere other than where they did: along the side opposite the host’s station, right by the space people walk through to go out to the lobby of the building. For starters, the table was not large enough even for two, given the enormous crockery they deploy—we had to play a bit of tetris on occasion; and more distractingly, there was a lot of traffic through to the lobby that evening as a number of people passed through the restaurant en route to some event elsewhere in the building and we felt a bit like we were in a walkway.
But on to the food! Click on an image below for a larger slideshow of images of what we ate and see below for a little more detail and thoughts on individual dishes.
While we were there for the asparagus we didn’t really want to eat an entirely asparagus-centered meal. But we still ended up with asparagus on the plate for three out of the five savoury dishes we got (and yes, we could have got an asparagus ice cream for dessert but passed). What we got:
- The missus began with spinach tagliatelle with Maine peekytoe crab, uni butter and pretzel breadcrumb. This was very good and nicely conceived.
- I started with a half portion of the gnocchi from the Spargelfest menu. This was potato gnocchi with tri-color asparagus and rock shrimp “scampi”. This was also very good though, frankly, I’m not sure the shrimp added much.
- We also got an order of the butter braised white asparagus from the Spargelfest menu. This was AAA grade European white asparagus served with proscuitto cotto, steamed fingerling potatoes and hollandaise. The asparagus was perfectly cooked and just excellent, as were the potatoes and the hollandaise (a froth essentially). The prosciutto cotto was a bit extraneous and not very interesting in its own right.
We washed all this down with a half bottle of a riesling (Trimbach 2010)—the missus doesn’t drink much and I was driving.