Food for Thought
At his new restaurant, In Season, Don Saunders delivers excellent cooking—and, inadvertently, poses a big question.
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And this is different from how you developed menus at Fugaise? I asked. “This hasn’t changed from how I’ve always written menus,” Saunders replied, “but part of the idea of In Season is to overtly market the idea, the story of how I write menus. Not that tons of other chefs don’t write menus like that, but I think it’s a cool interaction between the menu and server. You learn about what’s appropriate to cook at a certain time of year.”
Got it? In Season means: things the chef wants to cook, in the way he wants to cook them.
All in all, I wish Saunders had named the place Fugaise 2 or Chez Don. Because the question the In Season name inevitably leads you to is, what’s in season? And does it matter if it’s “in season” here or in Florida or in New Zealand when you eat it? Should eating local trump eating what you want?
To which I think: Whoa, who would get to decide? Let’s put it another way. If Citizen A is from Thailand and craves galangal and the connection it provides to her grandmother, Citizen B keeps her plasma TV on all night to keep her anxiety at bay, and Citizen C flies her far-flung extended family to Disney World every Christmas, who gets to say what’s a waste and what’s not? Not me, I don’t want that job at all.
Most important, Saunders has no reason to get bogged down in complicated moral and ethical quandaries. It’s unnecessary, and it’s not really his thing. He’s a great chef with a great new restaurant, and that’s always in season.
Fugaise Two: sometimes the sequel is better than the original, as it is here at the second restaurant of highly accomplished French-influenced chef Don Saunders
Ideal Meal: Salmon blini, any scallop or seafood dish, chocolate chestnut cake, and a glass of Pineau des Charentes. Tip: Call ahead for a pull-out-all-the-stops $70 tasting menu. Hours: Tuesday–Thursday and Sunday 5–10 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 5–11 p.m. Prices: Appetizers from $7, entrées from $15 Address: 5416 Penn Ave. S., Mpls., 612-926-0105, inseasonrestaurant.com
THE PERFECT DISH
Chef Don Saunders makes gravlax ingeniously. By adding fresh grated red beets to the traditional salt-sugar cure for salmon, he not only achieves a visually striking crimson edge to the fish, but adds a faint bracing earthiness to the rich fish. The caviar finishing the dish and carefully trimmed blini only add to the posh, indulgent, accomplished sense the dish creates. Add a flute of something sparkling, and prepare to delight.