Forum is reborn in stunning art deco space

Contemporary Americana spot finally situated after many incarnations

It's easy to see why the Forum gumbo earned a spot on the permanent menu after a stint on the New Orleans list. The smokiness of grilled chicken blends with spicy sausage to leave a slow, warming burn. The sticky ooze of okra blends into the Cajun dirty rice to make the dish resemble a soupy jambalaya, studded with plump bites of shrimp. For $12, it's one of the menu's best bargains.

Ticcaro also offers many a Minnesota crowd-pleaser, including walleye on a stick and wild rice soup, which is as creamy as Byerly's though not as atrociously salty. A high-quality house-made stock is the key to the soup's depth of flavor, and its only fault was arriving at the table lukewarm.

The Steak House Burger is as good as it is considered, starting with the onion bun from Mainstreet Bakery in Edina. Most hamburger buns are little more than structural elements, but this one adds enough flavor to play a more supportive role. The patty is studded with diced onion and capped with thin strips of pepper bacon, fried onions, and brick cheese to become a rich, juicy mess. In that same vein, on the Santa Fe menu, the Mainstreet bun was served stuffed with a generous pile of smoked brisket, smothered in salsa verde and roasted peppers. Think Jewish deli transplanted to Mexico, the language of Katz's spoken with a Spanish accent.

If you think this filet mignon looks good, wait till you try the pork chop
Hannah Delon
If you think this filet mignon looks good, wait till you try the pork chop

Location Info

Map

Forum Restaurant and Bar

40 S. Seventh St.
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Details

Forum Restaurant and Bar
40 S. Seventh St., Minneapolis
612.354.2017; www.forumrestaurantmn.comappetizers $6-$16; entrées $11-$30

But the chicken mole, a Southwestern standard, didn't cut it. The spicy sauce lacked its typical soul and didn't penetrate the tough, cottony breast. A steak salad was soured by its strangely bitter vinaigrette. Equally bitter was the Forum's Rhubarb Negroni, and I thought it was odd that our waiter recommended it as a populist drink, without acknowledging that Campari isn't really a flavor with broad American appeal. The Saxe cocktail is a better choice: Consider it a summer alternative to mulled wine, made with pear vodka and grape juice with notes of clove, ginger, peppercorn, and allspice.

Older patrons may miss their favorite pies from the Forum Cafeteria—prune chiffon, anyone?—but the desserts are still very much worth sampling. Some, such as the terrific tres leches cake, will make only fleeting appearances. Others, like the seasonal cobbler, have a permanent place. The strawberry-rhubarb version tasted as good as it looked, served in triptych on a rectangular plate. The bubbling cobbler arrived in a tiny cast iron crock between a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a tiny bowl of cinnamon-tinged agave nectar to pour on top.

The Forum does a nice job of blending old Minneapolis with new, illustrated also by plans for the upcoming Minneapolis-St. Paul menu. Ticcaro says he hopes to serve lutefisk—who's eating lutefisk in August, I'd like to know—as well as some sort of hot dish with a chef-inspired spin, and likely a dish from either the Hmong or Somali traditions. The pressure's on for Ticcaro to execute the cuisine of Minnesota's newest immigrants as well as possible, as it may be an introduction for many Forum diners. "This might be the only place they would ever try it," he says.

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