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Thursday, June 6, 2013

DeRushaEats: Restaurant Alma

DeRushaEats: Restaurant Alma

There's one restaurant in the Twin Cities that people speak of reverently, but these days it almost never gets written about. Restaurant Alma opened in 1999, and its chef/owner Alex Roberts won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest in 2010.

It's been a long time since my wife and I ate at Alma, so for her birthday last week we made the reservation, and found out why it may be one of the best fine dining deals in town.

$50 for a three-course meal—and not small servings or a tasting menu. This is a full starter, middle, and entree. Alma's always been a place that celebrates local food and seasonal ingredients, and the menu right now tastes like Minnesota, right now.

The Halibut Tartare and the Wild Nettle Souffle were both outstanding. The coconut-jalapeno sauce with curried cashews on the souffle—what an inspired combination of flavor. The fresno peppers and fresh cherries in the halibut tartare was equally surprising, fresh and delicious.
 

Alma


I loved my carolina rice grits, with shrimp and fried garlic with a hint of chili oil. The rice flavor was different than the normal corn grit—a little nuttier in flavor, with maybe a little more sweetness. Really nice.
 


The rabbit agnolotti (shown above right) was the only miss of the meal for me. The nettle pasta was perfect, but I didn't get much rabbit flavor from the dish.

Both entrees were also great: our server said that Alma's duck has ruined duck for her everywhere else because it's done so perfectly. She was right: the duck two ways was perfectly carmelized on the edges, with a lovely rhubarb compote. My wife's sauteed wild hake was also quite nice, served in a very tasty fennel cream sauce.
 


Alma has a great wine list, put together by wine director James Hirdler. For $18, he'll create wine pairings with each course, and I highly recommend going that route. We really loved the Thierry Puzelat le Telquel, and our server promptly printed out a little receipt with tasting notes and the name of the wine so we could look for it later. So cool!

Service was spectacular, the food was near perfect. I promise I won't wait five years to visit Restaurant Alma again.

Restaurant Alma
528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis
restaurantalma.com
Dinner only, opening at 5 p.m. daily

Posted on Thursday, June 6, 2013 in Permalink

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

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Jun 7, 2013 10:44 am
 Posted by  Kristin Boldon

I feel so fortunate that Restaurant Alma is in my neighbhorhood. Whenever my husband and I think of trying someplace new and father away, we usually stick with Alma and thus are richly rewarded. One of the other things I love about it is that it's small and quiet, a perfect date restaurant.

Jun 12, 2013 03:53 pm
 Posted by  lollysue

My guy and I celebrated our anniversary there last weekend and could have written this review almost word-for-word! The only thing I would add is that the servers really know their stuff. They describe the menu items in a way that can make you swoon and I appreciate that they have recommendations which are always right on. Stellar local gem!

Jun 14, 2013 11:03 am
 Posted by  Jason DeRusha

Thanks LollySue! Our server was certainly one of the best I've had in the Twin Cities in recent history.

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TC Taste answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally bring the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Minnesota Monthly Senior Editor Rachel Hutton, Sustainable Food Correspondent Marie Flanagan, Home Cook Stephanie Meyer, Chef Jason Ross, Savvy Mom Kristin Boldon, Food Writer Joy Summers, and Drinks & Real Food Senior Editor Mary Subialka. Learn more about the TC Taste bloggers.

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