Day 1: Minneapolis - Blackbird and 112 Eatery
Minnesota greeted us with the first snow of the season and sideways wind.
Marie and I drove from Des Moines to Minneapolis (but not without stopping for carrot cake for breakfast from The Cafe in Ames) to start our food adventure of the year.
From the start, I could tell this trip was going to be filled with brisk walks in our heels from the car to all the restaurants we have planned. We park on Nicollet Ave and make a run for Blackbird. We sift through the velvet curtains to find ourselves only among the staff at two in the afternoon.
We are seated in a booth and immediately start getting excited about the small plates they have for sharing. But first, we acknowledge the different colored antlers decorating the walls, as well as vintage clocks, lamps, and glassware. We feel warm and so so cozy. We ordered House Greens, French Fries with Rosemary Aioli, and Cheese & Crackers. The greens were simple and acidic but served with globs of goat cheese that was subtly sweet and just the softest. The french fries were done just about how french fries should always been done - nicely thick, extremely crispy, and best when you eat two or three at a time. We though the aioli was a little strong and could only be eaten with every second or third bite.
The crispy flatbread accompanied a whipped camembert, cranberry jam and shaved fennel - lots of flavor that was the perfect combination for smooth cheese and crispy crackers. We left with great satisfaction and appreciation for our first stop in MN.
As the snow continues to fall, we leave our homey Air BnB for 112 Eatery in Downtown Minneapolis. We of course park and dash to the entrance with only minor slips on the slick sidewalk - no injuries to report yet. Pushing through the paint-chipped door led us to a dimly lit, narrow space where servers in all white and colorful, quirky ties danced around with plates and glass of wine and beer. The bar was cooped up in a corner, completely full of customers sipping, eating, and enjoying.
We slide into our booth for the evening along the side wall. I feel welcomed, warm, and tucked in. I order a glass of house red wine, a Grenache (blessings). Our server, Holly was so extremely knowledgeable and had an aurora that fit the restaurant. I never felt rushed, and we were always welcomed to stay and enjoy more of every aspect of the restaurant. She helped us cultivate a perfect meal: Boston Bibb with Herb Vinaigrette and Parmesan cheese + Fried Bread with Prosciutto + Basil Spaetzle w/ Roasted Red Peppers & Pecorino.
I hope you can tell from this photo, the salad was basically a cheese mountain with a small salad underneath. It had us speechless - the salad of our dreams: minimal salad and maximum cheese. We even thought about ordering another one. The salad and vinaigrette were so flavorful though, and believe it or not, you could actually taste the Boston Bibb in there. The fried bread, I mean you know it's going to be good. It was escalated in flavor though by the addition of more cheese (more blessings). This was my first time having Spaetzle! The veggies and fresh herbs really made it a refreshing but still a satisfying and rich dish.
The star of the show though: Tres Leches Cake. This masterpiece was bliss. A sweet, light, fluffy, tender, moist sponge cake bathing in it's own sauce of rich meringue. It was simple and dangerous. We left totally full and wondering when we would get cake again.