Can Stewart Woodman Soar Again At Lela?
He had huge success at Heidi's and Heidi's 2.0—will diners now flock to the suburban restaurant to experience Stewart's food?
Let me start with this: I love Stewart Woodman. I love his food, I like him as a person, I was a huge fan of the original Heidi's in South Minneapolis and the second Heidi's which opened in LynLake after the first one burned down.
The second Heidi's burned down in a figurative sense, when Stewart and Heidi divorced. Since then he's bounced around working for the Crave team, a Rochester hotel, and now Lela. Lela is next to the Sheraton in Bloomington, which used to be the Sofitel, but Lela is not a hotel restaurant. Well, at least it doesn't want to be perceived as one.
Last month I tasted my way through the new items that Stewart has added to the hotel menu, and I can tell you that every single thing I ate was a show-stopper.
Photos by Jason DeRusha
The tuna tacos are served on thinly sliced fried Plantains, shaped into a taco shell, filled with tuna, scallions and then macadamia nuts. Simple, complex, elegant, delicious. ($14 on the dinner menu)
We had a foie gras with watercress salad that was incredibly luscious and flavorful. The blue crab cake ($15) is served on warm succotash with red goddess dressing, crispy pancetta, and corn shoots. So much flavor and texture happening in this beauty.
Stewart was famous for his lamb shank, and you can have a flashback with the braised lamb chitarra pasta ($17). The lamb tastes just like I remembered and loved from the first Heidi's, on a beautiful bed of freshly-made chitarra (like spaghetti), served with fresno peppers and snow peas. Perfect.
You can eat at Lela with traditional steaks (between $28-$36—very affordable), or with sandwiches like a turkey panini or a hanger steak hoagie, so you can bring your non-adventurous family or friends here. But if you're a diner, if you love cooking from an incredible chef, you need to get to Bloomington and Lela and give it a shot.
Lela has a series of wine dinners, September 21 focuses on Domaine Serene and is $80 for four courses, plus wine. They're also doing a series of Chef's Counter Omakase dinners—Chef Woodman cooks a 7-course menu with wine pairings for just $65!! Reserve tickets to the September 22nd dinner here.
5601 W. 78th St.