I was talking with pastry chef Adrienne Odom for a WCCO-TV story yesterday (it will air Saturday morning at 8 a.m.), and she was talking about the challenge of simplicity. She has the challenge of coming up with desserts for 14 Parasole restaurants—from the local-focused Muffuletta Cafe in St. Paul to the brash steakhouse Manny’s in Minneapolis.
She makes the desserts at the central Parasole bakery, and then they get sent daily to the different restaurants, where they bake them, finish them, serve them.
She is serving a delicious pear/quince tart at Muffuletta—it’s great. She said, “It’s not easy to do simple food.”
I’ve been really drawn to simple food, prepared perfectly of late. The family went to Anchor Fish and Chips in Northeast Minneapolis on Sunday for lunch. It was fantastic. Simple. No twist on anything. Just good food done well.
It opened in 2009, promising fish and chips for under $9, and it’s still delivering at that price in 2012. $8.95 today, compared to $8.50 then, but the cod is as it should be (mild, flaky, almost bland) the breading is perfect (light, not oily, crunchy) and the chips are awesome (hand-cut, generously portioned).
I had the battered sausage and chips ($6.95!) which was really great. A locally-made Irish banger, fried and battered. Nothing fancy—just simple food, made well.
I had a similar experience at Gather at Walker Art Center for lunch this week. A tuna crudo was perfectly executed. It was a little more fancy, for sure—the crudo had shaved fennel, orange, and a glorious spice from thai green papaya. But that was about all that was going on—very simple, executed perfectly.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to write about a place that is just as expected. Where’s the surprise? The twist? The originality? But sometimes you just want a nice place to go for fish and chips. Or a perfect tuna crudo. Or a glorious pear tart.
Simple, but not easy. I think that’s where it’s at right now.