Martha+Tom

Restaurants—Restaurant Alma

Martha and I celebrated our anniversary at Restaurant Alma last month. Alma is well-liked in Minneapolis and I’m not going to add my voice to the chorus by writing a review; suffice it to say that its reputation is deserved. Instead, I’ll just document our meal for your vicarious pleasure.

Course One: Parmesan Flan and Bison Tartare

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I ordered the parmesan flan, which came with artichoke hearts, a kalamata spread, parmesan shavings and maple syrup. I have never had a savory flan before but I thought it was a great way to do flan—biting into the flan I got that perfect creamy texture and a cream flavor but without sweetness; then my mouth was suddenly flooded with the flavor of aged parmesan.  All of the garnishes on the plate are natural pairs with parmesan so I had a lot of fun constructing different bites. Martha’s bison tartare was very subtly flavored (at least from the bite I had) but was well completed by the salad of greens and radish matchsticks that came alongside, adding slight crunch and bite.

Course Two: Beet-Ricotta Ravioli and Black Bean Fritters

Beet-Ricotta Ravioli with Horseradish and ProsciuttoBlack Bean Fritters

Each bite of beet-ricotta ravioli had a light beet flavor that wouldn’t be off putting even to beet-haters. Every other bite also featured the zing of horseradish; my coarse palate would’ve been happy with a much stronger presence for the horseradish but I’m sure the way it was prepared was much more refined. In any case, beets and horseradish is a great idea, as is adding prosciutto, which gave a burst of salt. And I’m just a sucker for ham. The black bean fritters were very reminiscent of falafel, maybe even southwestern falafel.

Course Three: Gently Cooked Trout

Gently Cooked Trout

Normally I am reluctant to order the same dish as the people I am dining with but the description on the menu and our waitress’s hearty recommendation drew both Martha and me to the gently cooked trout. The trout was not only gently cooked, it was perfectly cooked—very moist and not flaky (when fish gets flaky it is overcooked, in this writer’s humble opinion). It came topped with a red wine reduction and a mushroom sauce that tasted strongly of ham hocks. I was at first a bit surprised by this combination because it seemed like such a hearty sauce would overpower the delicate fish, but as it turns out trout is remarkably earthy itself. The sauce, while definitely hammy, only butted up against the side of the fish without ever overwhelming it. I noticed this kind of restraint in all of the dishes—the cooks at Alma are real masters of subtlety.

Dessert: Marieke Super Aged Gouda

Marieke Super Aged Gouda, Pear and Chutney

With the dregs of our bottle of cava to finish and no desire to move anywhere soon after such a delicious meal, we decided to order a cheese for dessert. Experience has led me to be skeptical about Wisconsin cheese, but the Marieke Super Aged Gouda was exceptional. It had deep flavor, reminding me more of an aged parmesan than the rubbery, milky gouda you tend to get around here (when your cheese budget is not what it should be).

We left with that feeling of perfect satisfaction that good restaurants are able to impart—not hungry, not full and already wistfully remembering each bite (several glasses of cava probably didn’t hurt our feelings of goodwill). Restaurant Alma is highly recommended.

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