112 Eatery II (Minneapolis)

After our lovely dinner at Alma in April we decided it was time to go back to our old favourites in the Twin Cities more often. And so I immediately made a reservation for dinner at 112 Eatery, a restaurant we like more than the number of times I have reviewed it would indicate. It was the first fine dining restaurant I ate at in Minnesota, having been taken there for dinner when I was interviewing for my job (at which point I think it was just over a year old). And when we arrived in Minnesota it was one of the places we ate at most frequently. But when I started reviewing restaurants on the blog the urge to chase novelty meant fewer visits to old favourites. Our Alma meal reminded me of the folly of this practice and I am very glad it did: we had a very good meal at 112 Eatery as well.

The meal was made all the more special by the company. I’d booked a table for four, expecting that it would not be difficult to find a couple to join us from our usual cadre of dining companions. But as luck would have it, none were available. Rather than cancel or dine just by ourselves we decided to take the boys along. Ever since their dinner with us at Mucci’s Italian in St. Paul they’d been agitating to be taken again to an adult restaurant and we figured 112 Eatery’s menu would be a good fit with their preferences. The restaurant was kind enough to change our reservation to a more kid-friendly time and so we arrived at 6 pm on a Saturday, ready for a good time.

The downstairs area—is it a bar? I’ve never been seated there—seemed pretty busy but our table was upstairs, which was altogether quieter on our arrival and slowly filled up as our dinner progressed. We got a nice 4-top by the windows and got down to bidness.

First up, drinks. The missus and I got cocktails. She got the It’s Warm Somewhere, which featured rum, charred pineapple and coconut cream, and really liked it. I likewise very much enjoyed my 112 Old Fashioned. The boys got cocktails too, albeit non-alcoholic ones. The older boy enjoyed his Pink Pep—a melange of cranberry, lime and ginger—and the younger loved his Something Delicious—Bordeaux cherry, lime and ginger.

And then to food. Alas, 112 Eatery no longer sets down bread and butter (though you do get their excellent candied pecans). You have to pay $4 for what they call A Side of Country Loaf and we did: very good bread and butter showed up and we devoured almost all of it before our first savoury plate arrived. The 112 Tartare was a huge hit with the boys and we liked it too. The larger plates were almost all big hits as well. We got the Lamb Scottadito—one of 112 Eatery’s signature dishes—and it was scarfed down very quickly.  I’m not sure we’ve seen the octopus there before but—grilled to a crisp and served atop avocado puree with radish and mint— it was another big hit. The pork turnover was not quite as popular across the board, which is not to say that anyone disliked it; in fact, I liked it a lot.

The biggest hit at the meal, however, was another of 112 Eatery’s signature dishes: the Stringozzi with Lamb Sugo. This was inhaled at a very rapid rate. As a result, perhaps, the other pasta dish was not quite as rapturously received by the boys despite being theoretically in their broad mac-and-cheese wheelhouse. I refer, of course, to the Tagliatelle with Foie Gras Meatballs, yet another 112 Eatery classic. They didn’t dislike it but chose to devour the stringozzi over having more than a small taste each of it. The missus and I were only too happy to finish it. Oh yes, we also got a side of their French fries and these were a huge hit with the boys as well.

Dessert: we shared a piece of the mocha mousse cake and enjoyed it.

For pictures of the restaurant and the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for thoughts on service, to see how much it all cost and to see what’s coming next.

Service was generally good and present even as the dining room filled up. There were, however, a couple of hiccups. We’d ordered the regular beef tartare but received the 112 tartare. And only one of the two desserts we’d ordered showed up: we waited but there was no sign of the butterscotch budino we’d also ordered. But, as it happened, both mistakes were to our benefit: the boys loved the 112 tartare and who’s to say they would have liked the other as much; and we were so full by the end of the meal that just the one dessert was more than enough.

Cost: The total came to $222 before tip or just south of $270 with tip (112 Eatery is not on the included service charge train). About $67/head which is a very good price for what we ate and drank and begins to look like a steal when you compare it to the $60/head we paid at Sakura a couple of weeks prior. And certainly a bargain given how much the boys loved everything—and how well they ate it all (none of the microsurgery they would have performed on the same dishes if placed in front of them at home).

Alright, what’s coming next? It would have been a review of dinner at Myriel in St. Paul but that got axed by a last-minute closure at the restaurant (you can guess why). We have rescheduled reservations to eat there next month but I do have a number of things sitting in the backlog as well: the second dinner at Khaluna (here’s my report on the first); a couple of casual meals in Minneapolis, one featuring burgers and the other tacos; dinner at St. Genevieve (this was a last minute replacement for Myriel); and we’ll also be eating at Tenant this week after a bit of a gap. If you have a preference to read about one of these more urgently than the others let me know in the comments; otherwise, I’ll throw a dart at the metaphorical board over the weekend and see where it lands.



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