photos by terry brennan
Joy: What was once Bobino and then Rachel’s is now Bardo, a gorgeous bit of art deco real estate just over the Hennepin bridge from downtown Minneapolis.
Jason: The renovation of Bardo is a knockout: This room managed to be very modern yet equally warm and welcoming. A dramatic chandelier is the centerpiece of the dining room, flanked by crisp, white walls and white subway tile behind the bar. The pretty, wooden wine cabinet is staffed with a wine captain front-and-center to make recommendations and pour glasses without leaving the dining room.
Joy: My table was well attended to: There were so many servers assisting, I think I had four different people refill my wine glass throughout the night.
Jason: I liked the compact menu, easily organized into sections with cold dishes, seafood, pasta, pasture (meats), and sides. The salumi-and-spiced-greens salad was a great riff on a charcuterie plate, mixing speck, soppressata, and chorizo with mustard greens, arugula, and figs. It was a bright, lively starter.
Joy: We adored the beet salad and the perfectly cooked pastas, which are available in small or large portions.
Jason: Every dish had little elements that made it special. Two giant butterflied shrimp were the star of a crispy shrimp-and-white-beans dish. It was simple yet satisfying, and I would definitely come back to eat it again.
Joy: That dish was stunning; the beans were perfectly tender and flavorful with the salty, bright-green lemon-and-herb gremolata.
Jason: And don’t forget the handmade gnocchi, paired with earthy shiitake mushrooms, smoky tomato, and sweet leeks.
Joy: Every drink we tried was an artfully balanced twist on a classic. The Opportunist was a subtle twist on a Manhattan with Sfumato amaro, a bitter, smoky-sweet Italian liqueur whose flavor played wonderfully with the bourbon.
Salumi and Spiced Greens at Bardo
Jason: The seafood and meat plates are also available in small sizes, which gives you a lot of flexibility and keeps things affordable. You could easily stitch together dinner for four with a medley of small and large plates and spend about $20 a person.
Joy: And, as a bonus, with the elegant overhead chandelier and blushing lighting, the room makes everyone feel prettier and cooler.
Jason: For those lamenting the loss of some of their favorite restaurants in 2017, put Bardo on the list as one of the year’s new favorites.
Bardo Quick Tips
Open Monday: Many chef-driven restaurants go dark on Mondays; Bardo closes Tuesdays
Tipping: An 18-percent service fee is added to every bill and shared with the entire staff
Parking: Metered street parking on Hennepin, plus a ramp across the street by Kramarczuk’s
222 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-886-8404, bardompls.com