We went two and a half years between our first and second meals at Spoon and Stable, and three and a half years between the second and third. We ate our fourth meal there, however, only a little over a year after the third. That third dinner was eaten on their sidewalk at the end of October last year. This was a December meal though and there was no outdoor seating and no question of our wanting to sit outside. We were scheduled to eat there with friends but they ended up having to punt. We considered cancelling and then seeing if we could cut the reservation down to a table for two. In the end, we decided to stick with the table of four and take our boys along with us for their first look at the true high-end in the Twin Cities. A good decision too as the meal was very good and we had a great time together.
We arrived a little early for a 7.30 reservation on a Saturday and were pleased to find our table was ready early. The boys were suitably impressed by the feel of the restaurant, though, predictably, they were most impressed by the tall wine “library”; and very pleased when a staff member did go up the ladder to the very top at one point to retrieve a bottle. We did not ourselves order a bottle of wine. The missus and I got a cocktail each to start (the French 75 for her, the Oaxacan for me) and the boys got a non-alcoholic cocktail each (Cranberry for one, Grapefruit for the other). We all enjoyed our cocktails. Later I added on an Old Fashioned (made with rum) and quite liked that too. (See the picture of the drinks menu in the slideshow below for more details on the drinks.)
Food? We split everything as is our wont. We got three starters, three half orders of pasta, two mains and two sides. Yes, that’s a lot of food: we took some leftovers home.
What did we eat? Well, first we chowed down on their excellent sourdough bread and house-made butter (which continues to be served on rocks with unwieldy wooden knives for some reason). And then the main event:
- CHILLED LOBSTER pomelo, heart of palm, avocado, mache, brioche toast (gf/df available). This was tasty enough but I thought the lobster disappeared more than a little under everything else; the avocado seemed to dominate. It looked very pretty though.
- BISON TARTARE harissa aïoli, watermelon radish, cilantro, dried olive, socca (gf/df). This was our third time getting this. I’ve not always been enthused by it but the boys love tartare. We all liked it on this occasion but they joined me in wondering why they don’t serve it with toast rather than the chickpea cracker.
- ROASTED FOIE GRAS parsnip toast, red cabbage, kumquat confit (df)(gf available). This was tasty as well. I actually almost liked the parsnip toast better than the foie gras and the kumquat confit accented it well.
- SPAGHETTI NERO octopus, prawn, mussels, fra’ diavolo (gf/df available). We’ve got and liked this a lot before and we liked it a lot again this time. Both boys had it at the top of their list.
- SOURDOUGH BIGOLI pancetta, black pepper, duck egg yolk, pecorino cheese (gf/veg available). Though this bigoli with carbonara (effectively) was also excellent.
- FUSILLI lamb & pork ragu, fennel, cherry peppers, ricotta salata, tarragon breadcrumbs (gf/df available). As was this fusilli.
- BLACK COD mussels, leeks, fingerling potato, tomato conserva, lovage (gf/df available). I ate most of this and thought it was dynamite, from the perfectly cooked cod and mussels to the potatoes and the broth. (There was one off-note but more on this below.)
- PORK CHOP tamarind glaze, ancho mole, sweet potato, escarole, thai basil (gf/df)(veg available). The pork chop was likewise quite excellent. The pork was a lovely mix of crisp and tender and all the elements on the plate came together really well.
- CREAMY SPINACH cheese curds (veg). The boys are big fans of cheese curds and were amused to find them at a fancy restaurant. They also loved them. They are not, however, big fans of spinach in any form but their parents enjoyed it.
- FRENCH FRIES parmigiano, fines herbes, béarnaise powder (veg). The fries were a hit all-around; though at this point we were getting quite full and so took most of these home (where they heated up quite well the next day in the toaster oven).
- CHOCOLATE BUDINO butterscotch, crème fraîche, sourdough shortbread (gf available).
- ICE CREAMS & SORBETS honey tuile, cocoa syrup
Both desserts were very pleasurable, if nothing particularly out of the ordinary. (On our own we probably would have got the Warm Apple Pavé but the boys, alas, are allergic to pistachio.)
For a look at the restaurant and what we ate and drank, click on a picture to launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for thoughts on service and the experience as a whole, and to see how much it cost.
They got increasingly busy as the meal went on—we’d arrived between the first and second seatings, I think—but service was good, on the whole. It took a while to get and pay the check but during the meal itself our server was present and pleasant. Ah yes, the off-note I mentioned re the black cod main: a piece of hard plastic emerged from the broth. I drew this to our server’s attention and he, very embarrassed, drew it to the chef’s attention. I told him I was just letting him know but didn’t really want anything for it. When the check arrived that dish had been comped. Unnecessary in a sense—we finished the rest of that dish happily enough—but also very professionally handled. A kitchen error but a service win.
Cost? With the cod taken off, the total—with tax and the included hospitality charge—came to just short of $350. With the cod it would probably have risen to just short of $400. So, we paid a little less than $90/head but the real cost of what we ate was closer to $100/head. That’s with a lot of food and the equivalent of four adult cocktails. For the quality of the food this is pretty decent value at the high end in the Cities—for reference, we paid $435 total for just the two of us at Demi in October and I think we enjoyed this meal more (and not just because the boys were with us).
And what did I make of the meal as a whole? Well, the baseline was very high. The starters didn’t really get me excited but the pastas and the mains were uniformly excellent. I suppose a knock against Spoon and Stable might be just that: that they put out food at a pretty high level but it doesn’t come across as particularly revelatory or creative: it’s food with many elements, executed very well (occasional bits of hard plastic aside). An analogy might be the experience of driving (in) a high-end sedan. But, you know, that kind of meal is good every once in a while. We’ll probably do it again in a year.
Okay, what’s next from the Twin Cities? We’ll probably eat out this coming weekend before heading to Los Angeles next week. I know where I want to go for lunch on Saturday but I haven’t run it by the family yet so you’ll just have to wait and see.