Last night I had a phenomenal dinner at the Corner Table, a local food restaurant at 43rd and Nicollet. This is the same intersection that boasts Anodyne, which is one of my favorite coffee shops/breakfast stops in all of Minneapolis. So it's odd that I hadn't yet tried the locally-themed restaurant across the street!
This was the perfect time of year to go, since the chefs had the most local ingredients. When I went to Heartland several months ago, local veggies were in short supply. Pretty much beets only (still quite delicious!)
For drinks they had a small but impressive list of beers and wines. Considering that Corner Table prides itself on local food, it was odd that there was only one local beer option and ZERO local wine options (Note to Corner Table: There are some good wines and lots of great beers you could highlight from Minnesota). I had two delicious beers, an Oktoberfest beer from Hacker-Pschorr that was the best Oktoberfest beer I've ever had, better than even Paulaner. Then I polished dinner off with a Belgian Kwak. My only gripe with that was that I was given the wrong kind of glass. They gave me an oddly shaped "hour-glass"-shaped glass, but not the traditional Kwak glass with wooden stand as seen here (and as served at Busters on 28th). Drinks: A- (lack of local options).
For an appetizer we split a cold app, Grilled Vegetable (see menu here) medley. For the price, I was a little surprised that it was so tiny, but the presentation (chopped up zucchini, squash, etc) in a cylindrical shape was great, and the taste was fantastic and did the job of whetting our appetite for more. Appetizer: A- (size outweighed by taste and delicious bread, probably from Rustica???)
The meal came and wow, it was superb. My date had the Vegetable En Croute, which was basically a meat pie without the meat. The crust was flaky and looked delicious, and the ingredients were local and fresh. I had the lamb. It was the first lamb I'd had in probably 7 years and it was worth the wait. It was juicy and flavorful. The orzo/corn mix was great, although a lot of the orzo stuck together. But really, it's hard to find anything wrong with this. Main Course: A++!!
The atmosphere: I got there a bit ahead of my date, and there was a nice small bar to sit at and enjoy a beer while I waited. Not much else for waiting room, but the bar was a perfect spot for that. Thumbs up! While I waited I checked out the dining options. The place had a nice, romantic, but not stuffy feel. The outdoor seating looked good, even with the busy traffic of Nicollet Avenue. While the main dining room had a great feel, we were placed in a back room that jutted off the main dining room. It was a small room with only 4 tables. When I first sat down, only 1 table was occupied by a loud and annoying couple on probably a first date. I didn't really enjoy the feeling that I was sitting at their table and in their conversation. But once the other tables filled with diners, the room became uniformly noisy and the conversations canceled each other out. Grade: B+ (A+ for the main room, C+ for the back room)
Service: Impeccable, friendly, just what I would expect for the price. Great job!
All in all, in the categories that matter most: 1) Would I recommend this place and 2) Would I return, the answer to both is a resounding YES!
I'd love to return in winter and see what local food they have.