Dinner at Cafe Twenty Eight
I had a charming dinner in the Twin Cities this past weekend. Cafe Twenty Eight is tucked into a refurbished fire station that is tastefully decorated with warm and bright colors. It also exhibits a very nice wall of historical tidbits and artifacts that detail the history of the fire station as well as some of the neighboring Linden Hills area. As a sample of what you’re apt to see, the wall displays three ribbons given to a school for having no traffic accidents due to their crossing-guards in the mid 1970’s. Quirky, yes, but really quite sublime. Not only is it a direct link to the neighborhood’s past but it shows a real appreciation for the minuteness of life there. And I think that is how their food comes out-homey and comfortable but with an exceptional attention to detail.
My party ordered two salads: A Beet Salad and a Champagne Pear Salad. The latter was quite the better of the two. Pears were poached, sliced, and then used as a base for greens, pistachios, and blue cheese tossed in a Champagne vinaigrette. I thought the pears were wonderful. They were poached to the very nanosecond of perfection; just tender enough to yield easily to a bite yet firm enough to retain their shape, texture, and integrity. They paired beautifully with the tangy vinaigrette. The dish is highly recommended.
The Beet Salad was constructed of perfectly cooked beets (just like the pears above) that were covered with greens, orange pieces, shaved red onion, walnuts, croutons, and a citrus vinaigrette. I thought everything worked really well together. The only thing wanting in the dish was some more acidity in the dressing. It would have woken up the and heightened the natural sweetness of the beets. Here are pictures of the Beet Salad:
My entree was a pan-seared flat iron steak with Yukon Gold pommes frites. They were adorned with wilted arugula, truffle butter, and a green salsa. The beef, according to their website, comes from grass fed steaks that were raised humanely. It was deliciously beefy and perfectly seared to medium-rare. Here’s a picture:
The pommes frites were creamy and just a little bit crisp, exactly what you would think would come out of deep frying Yukon Gold potatoes. The wilted arugula added a nice bitterness, the truffle butter earthiness, and the green salsa just a bit of kick. I very much enjoyed it.
Other members of my party were also duly impressed. The potato gnocchi had a perfect consistency, and the succulent pork loin was sitting atop some outstanding polenta. Two others ordered lamb-one got a lamb shank and the other got chops from a rack. The latter seemed to be the better deal as the shank was absolutely enormous and probably a little difficult to eat with panache.
I didn’t partake in dessert but the Surly “Two” chocolate cranberry beer was quite a treat. Nicely acidic from the cranberries with the rather odd sensation that the chocolate was somehow mellowing it out from above, if you can catch my meaning there.
Cafe Twenty Eight is a real treat and I would welcome the opportunity to stop there again. It’s a perfect neighborhood bistro.