NORTHEAST’S LOSS is Uptown’s gain. When chef Landon Schoenefeld started a mustard-themed food fight with a bartender (after a customer had requested salad dressing served on the side), the Bulldog NE promptly fired him—and Barbette quickly nabbed him.
Schoenefeld admits to having driven himself to the edge of sanity at the Bulldog. “I was sleeping at the restaurant,” he says. At Barbette, he’s learned to step back a bit, but fortunately for diners, there’s no evidence that taking more “me time” has affected his culinary chops. Building on the repertoire of dishes he perfected at the Bulldog, like the home-cured, hand-ground black Angus beef burger, Schoenefeld continues to focus on simple preparations of impeccable ingredients. “It’s all about flavor for me,” he says. “I’m thinking of getting cards printed that say ‘President of Flavor Country.’”
Grizzled restaurant veterans might resent this kind of confidence in a 26-year-old chef. But proof of Schoenefeld’s talent is evident in Barbette’s new dishes.
The feathery mÃ¢che salad is, for example, a quiet revelation. Its gentle thicket of frisÃ©e, mint, fava beans, and pecorino is a mÃ©lange of complementary flavors, with hoops of pickled onion adding a welcome bite. The pork paillard is just as impressive, its fork-tender slices of meat floating in butter-smooth polenta, flattered by tomato-braised fennel.
Yet critical parts of the Barbette formula remain unaltered. You can still avail yourself of the addictive pommes frites and the daily tartare—when it’s snappy beef with capers, or a vivid tower of tuna, you’d be foolish (or vegetarian) to pass it up.
Most notably, Schoenefeld has done nothing to dilute the restaurant’s elegant versatility. The Swiss Army knife of Minneapolis dining spots, it’s equally suited to a casual brunch or an anniversary dinner.
President of flavor country? It’s hard to deny the new master of Barbette’s kitchen the title. Hail to the chef. MM
1600 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-827-5710 Â» Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. $$ [w]
Photo by Terry
Photo by Terry
What To Drink Now
RosÃ© is the comeback kid of the wine world. The erstwhile love potion of ’60s swingers, rosÃ© became as uncool as a Nehru jacket in the decades that followed. Lately, though, the pink drink seems to be popping up everywhere.
Like the retooled Volkswagen Beetle, rosÃ© is reclaiming its reputation in a new guise. Gone—or at least mostly forgotten—are the sickeningly sweet concoctions that once held sway in the U.S. market. Taking their place are dry yet bracingly fresh wines that are worthy of serious attention. Not too serious, though. RosÃ© remains the quintessential summer sipper, perfectly at home on the patio or poolside.
Dry rosÃ©s are as much a part of life in France’s Provencal region as lavender. Mas de Gourgonnier, one of 70 or so rosÃ©s on the racks at Solo Vino, hails from the village of Mouries, renowned for its olive oil (which the winery also produces). Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsaut, Grenache Blanc, and a smattering of other grapes—all organically grown—this rosÃ© has a dazzling coppery-pink color and bursts with flavors of strawberries and spice. Now that’s far out.
Mas de Gourgonnier RosÃ© 2006, $16.99, at Solo Vino, 517 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-602-9515