Haute Dish's Landon Schoenefeld: Talent with a temper

Chef has held more restaurant jobs than many retired cooks

The restaurant takes nose-to-tail eating more seriously, perhaps, than any other in town, so its charcuterie plate is a fine one. Schoenefeld says Sea Change chef Erik Anderson trained him on the nuances of making mortadella and a headcheese that you'd never guess contains both tequila and PBR. Schoenefeld didn't hesitate to load the menu with so much offal. "I kinda like freaking people out, I guess," he says. "Maybe that's not a good thing."

Those looking for a basic steak and eggs won't find it at Haute Dish, but instead there's something arguably better. A top-notch tartare comes with a bloody Mary oyster shooter, kite-shaped lettuce leaf garnishes, and a fried egg that peeks through toast like an eye in a porthole. Each element is as delicious as it is beautiful.

While the menu's indulgent dishes draw the most attention, the lighter ones are perhaps the brighter gems. The kitchen handles humble carrots as deftly as it does foie gras, pureeing them into a soup of the day that was delicate yet layered with flavor. An asparagus salad was composed of stalks cut into thin strips, arranged in a lattice, and served with bacon, blanched radishes, and an asparagus flan with a runny egg yolk hidden inside—surprise! Also excellent: the spring pea puree on toast, piled with pea shoots, dill, asparagus tips, and tiny chive flowers, which served as a perfect complement to hunks of smoked sturgeon.

Schoenefeld's food is humble but artful
Tony Nelson
Schoenefeld's food is humble but artful

Location Info

Map

Haute Dish

119 Washington Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Details

Haute Dish
119 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis
612.338.8484; www.haute-dish.com
appetizers $6-$15; entrées $10-$33

Christian Aldrich is turning out some summery desserts, the best of which is the buttermilk-rosemary panna cotta, lush and slightly sweet, with a little tang and a hint of underbrush. The strawberry shortcake with strawberry-lemongrass ice cream is also lovely, though the balsamic could have used more aging to mellow out its sharpness.

Some of the restaurant's less successful dishes struggled due to the choice of ingredients. The $18 flat iron steak is intended as a budget-friendly alternative to the $28 rib eye, but even though it was tender, nicely cooked, and paired with a prehistoric-looking marrow bone, its compromise in flavor wasn't worth the savings. A potpie that arrived in a cute, miniature cast-iron skillet had a lovely, flaky pastry hat covering a creamy stew of peas, ham, and snails—but the mollusks might just as well have been crimini mushrooms for all the flavor they added.

Other dishes missed when their concepts tunneled so far down intellectual wormholes that they failed to get their basic point across. The pig's foot preparation, which is now off the menu, was a complex deconstruction and reassembly: the trotters were cooked until tender, meat separated from cartilage and bone, laid flat, and pressed into a sort of porcine foot-meat "mat." Held together by natural collagen, the sheet was then cut into squares, rolled with a chicken sausage, mushroom duxelles, and sweetbreads, and then poached, battered, fried, and finished in the oven. Whew! It's exhausting just to think about so much work going to waste when, in the end, eating the gelatinous insides of the crusty tubes was, well, let's just say that there's no such thing as foot Jell-O salads for a reason.

The Duck in a Can, courtesy of Canadian chef Martin Picard, is an utterly ridiculous yet likable concept: duck breast, foie gras, carrots, and cabbage cooked in a metal tin that's opened at the table and dumped ceremoniously onto the plate. But while the vegetables and foie are well served by the savory, acidic broth, the cooking technique—or this execution of it at least—doesn't present the duck breast at its best. The meat seemed tough, as if it had seized up in panic, and the slab of unrendered fat on the top may be a bit beyond the pale for many. At $33, Duck in a Can seems destined to be a dish sampled once for novelty's sake but likely not ordered again.

Of course diners understand that risky concepts are prone to upsets, but they'll be less forgiving of imprecise cooking. The cassoulet-like pork and beans was sweet and pickley, with nice bricks of belly meat, but some of the beans tasted chalky and underdone. The burger—"with no temps, or substitutions, ever" the menu reads—was no trip to its namesake Flavor Country, and the patty was overly charred and tough. American cheese works for a $4.95 Jucy Lucy, but a $12 price tag on a burger would seem to imply something a little more sophisticated. For dessert, the Chocolate and Cheese ice cream sandwich came cutely wrapped in white paper, but it was frozen nearly as hard as ice, and its cream cheese flavor was too subtle.

One night, it was disappointing to see Schoenefeld reposing at the bar while imperfect dishes sat on our table, but most of the time he seems to be actively involved in the kitchen. (He's had, what, one day off since the restaurant opened?) A few times, Schoenefeld—in sandals, a tie-dye T-shirt, rolled-up jeans, and signature bandanna taming his shaggy mop—crossed the dining room with long, quick strides and thudding footsteps. His bearing suggested that of a gangly adolescent, post-growth spurt, who's not yet comfortable in his newly larger body. Perhaps it was a visual manifestation of Schoenefeld's new role: Not only is he shouldering the responsibility for his restaurant and staff, but he's also representing a generation of young local chefs who will become our next crop of Alex Robertses and Steven Browns and Isaac Beckers.

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