Heidi's restaurant relocates after fire and exceeds expectations

More complex flavors, fancier platings

Among the larger appetizers, a basic soup and salad defy traditional notions. Creamy mussel broth is flecked with roasted parsnips, stewed tomato, and fried parsley. Greens are served like a gift: bundled and secured by a cucumber peel, then drizzled with a gourmet, ranch-style dressing of crème fraiche, truffle, and green peppercorn. (If you'd like to re-create it at home, there's a similar recipe in Woodman's new Shefzilla cookbook.)

Woodman's entrées also juggle flavors and take textures on unexpected turns. The inventive combinations surprise—and also work. A salmon-based spin on cassoulet marinates the fish in miso broth, then stuffs it into a hollowed-out orange rind for a day, like a barrel-aged spirit, and bakes the whole thing intact. (Is this the budget alternative to sous vide?) The salmon comes out with a seared crust and creamy interior that's infused with citrus aromatics. Bites of rich azuki beans pair so well with the luscious fish that you hardly know whether to eat the dish or kiss it.

The club-like bone-in lamb shank is served with a delicate pureed arugula. "Rabbit in Love" offers saddle and clove-spiked sausage with sweet potato and Savoy cabbage. Barramundi arrives Napoleon-style, layered between crisp pastry sheets, with lobster meat, pickled eggplant, and black olives. Its looks are stunning, especially the flourish of vibrant red sauce and sprinkle of crimson powder, and its flavors are as bold as they are varied. A call to Woodman revealed that he'd designed the plate to prove to a certain critic that, contrary to what she'd said last time around, pickled eggplant didn't always overpower fish. Touché!

Baby sheep meets Shefzilla: Heidi's lamb shank
Sasha Landskov
Baby sheep meets Shefzilla: Heidi's lamb shank

Location Info

Map

Heidi's

2903 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

Details

Heidi's
2903 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
612.354.3512; www.heidismpls.com
appetizers $2-9; entrées $17-$20

There's little ammunition for a counterstrike, beyond calling out a seared duck breast with a wan coffee pecan pancake that, on first order, presented the meat very, very rare—poultry tartare, anyone? On a later visit the duck was better, but save for its bright lingonberry sauce, the dish didn't draw much notice.

Heidi Woodman again works wonders on the dessert menu, which has a few more flourishes than the one at the previous restaurant. Chocolate mousse, semi-frozen with liquid nitrogen, comes with two of its best partners, though you might not at first recognize them. Roasted marshmallow appears as a liquefied puddle and peanut butter is dehydrated into puffs—instead of sticking to the lips, it practically floats. The fruit Napoleon makes for another pretty sculpture, with its caramelized pineapple and banana coins with their sugary crust. Basil ice cream adds a contrasting freshness and tempers the sweetness just enough.

While many of our fine-dining restaurants execute dishes solidly, few do so with such a sense of adventure. Heidi's proves that in addition to being delicious, dinner can also be fun: The restaurant offers the most exciting dining experience Minneapolis has seen in months.

So put Heidi's on your must-eat list, with these few pieces of advice. There is a tasting menu available, of five courses selected from the menu, for $42 per person, and it can be convenient. But since the restaurant's prices are already fairly reasonable, the set meal doesn't tend to offer much in the way of savings. (One night's menu, in fact, would have been a dollar less expensive had its elements been ordered individually.) Unless you're interested in supplementing the tasting with its well-matched wine pairings, better to work with your server and order a broader sampling.

And if you remember nothing else about Heidi's, heed this: Order the Shefzilla Surprise. The dish changes about once a week, and while the staff will inquire about any allergies, they won't reveal the dish's identity until they stand before your table and pull a silver dome from its plate...Voila!

One night the heady scent of truffles wafted off wontons filled with braised oxtail meat and slathered in a creamy beet sauce. Another Surprise paired fresh crab with sriracha and cucumber-yogurt foam. Yet one more Shefzilla presented a bed of salt sprinkled with cloves, crushed red pepper, and fennel seeds as a festive beach for mollusk shells filled with fried Rocky Mountain oysters, a.k.a. bison testicles. Had they been listed on the menu, most might have passed on the order and deprived themselves of a meaty nosh—the "oysters" taste rather like mock chicken—enhanced by the zing of tartar sauce.

What might Woodman put under that silver dome next? Go ahead, try us.

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