Sameh Wadi and I have a prickly relationship; I didn’t review his restaurant well. He thinks I’m an idiot. And so on.
This actually doesn’t bother me much. I feel very First Amendment about it: I will fight to the death for every American’s right to think I’m an idiot! Or every Minnesotan’s, anyway. I also feel okay about it because I know Wadi and his downtown Minneapolis restaurant have plenty of ardent supporters—including every other critic in the state and most of the chefs in town.
So, what’s to like about Wadi and his fine dining menu of eastern and southern Mediterranean influenced dishes? Plenty. He’s working in an idiom few do here, taking the road less taken, and frankly it’s a heck of a lot easier to stick a leaf of basil under a slice of heirloom tomato and call it a caprese salad than it is to cure and smoke lamb belly and pair it with a smoky tomato jam in an effort to inject a classic BLT with Middle Eastern and fine dining juju. If you want to know what chef in this town is doing something new, look no further than Chef Wadi.
June is a great month to check out what Wadi’s up to now, because he’s offering a three course meal for $35 all month long. (Add on another $15 for wine pairing; details, in the full press release, follow this story.)
If that bargain dinner isn’t enough to sway you, please know that in addition to being one of the most adventurous chefs in town Wadi is a generous and giving man. Seriously, he is and here’s the proof: I asked him for his recipe for lamb ribs to share with readers of this blog, because the man is a genius with lamb and I knew that every food-obsessive in the state would be chomping at the bit to try it. Like that, he just typed it up and sent it over! Could I have been wrong all along? I’m not willing to go that far yet, but I’ll defend to the death your right to think so.
Saffron’s Lamb Rib recipe
“Here is my “recipe” for the marinade that we use at home,” writes chef Wadi of Saffron. “I believe that it’s very important to marinate them with a little vinegar to break down the meat, then grill them on direct heat.”
5 lbs of lamb ribs
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
juice of one lemon
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
1 teaspoon allspice, ground
1/2 cup olive oil, not extra virgin
salt and pepper
Marinate for 12 hours. Grill on direct heat till crisp. After they are grilled we drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
Saffron Restaurant & Lounge
123 North Third Street/ Suite 101
Minneapolis, MN 55401
For Immediate Release
June Tasting Menu
Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 4, 2008— Saffron Restaurant & Lounge will be offering a three course-tasting menu for the entire month of June, the menu is available Monday thru Friday from 5-10pm. The cost is $35 per person with an optional wine paring for $15.
The menu offers a first course of chilled asparagus soup with yogurt cheese and cold pressed olive oil. Duck breast with exotic spices, cauliflower, sultanas and preserved lemons makes for a summery entrÃ©e. For dessert we are featuring passion fruit prepared in different textures and temperatures.
Saffron is located at 123 N 3rd St. There is convenient parking at meters on 3rd St. and 2nd Ave. and a parking ramp on 2nd Ave between 3rd and 4th Street.
Valet is available Thursday thru Saturday starting at 6pm.
For updated menu and other useful information visit us at www.saffronmpls.com