Mona takes a chance on downtown Minneapolis

Chef Lisa Hanson hopes her creative small plates will draw diners

Though her penchant for handling pork products is obvious, Hanson has made room for some decent vegetarian options too, often using interesting, unexpected ingredients like fiddlehead ferns or a whole steamed globe artichoke, delicious and tangy in a sauce of capers and cooked egg. The goat cheese and roasted vegetable focaccia sandwich, seemingly omnipresent on local lunch menus, was made distinctive with smoked mushrooms.

Letdowns were present but minimal. The lamb slider, touted as a "home run on homemade bun," was flavor-packed and pretty juicy for a small patty, but I was a little disappointed that the sandwich was unadorned. A smear of sauce or something crisp would offset the rich flavors in the meat and add interest. Desserts felt like a bit of an afterthought and didn't mirror the creativity in the rest of the menu: caramel-covered doughnut holes, apple pie, and a rhubarb cheesecake that was essentially just a dense filling in a cup, with a pale ginger cookie that was in no way an acceptable substitute for a buttery crumb crust.

Roasted beef marrow, apple butter, raisin toast
Emily Utne
Roasted beef marrow, apple butter, raisin toast

As it stands, Mona is a little hard to place. It's not tapas, not bar food, not exactly global, and not 100 percent local. The overall experience was more like a picnic lunch from a really great deli, or one great big plate from an upscale potluck. Still, it seems as though Lisa Hanson's decision to go against the grain by setting up shop downtown instead of in, say, Lynnhurst, Kingfield, or Lowertown, is slowly, quietly starting to pay off.

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2 comments
Traveledit
Traveledit

The food is awesome. You can't help but savor every bite.

 
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