Bluestem Bar & Table thrives on organic fare

The new endeavor from French Meadow hides behind its greatest draw: A responsibly sourced menu

Bluestem's dessert list is nearly as long as the main menu and, since this place is attached to one of the best bakeries in town, the final course is also the most important. Go for the divine and decadent Milky Way tart, with crumbly crust and layers of chocolate and caramel; classic pink buttercream-frosted cake that you won't believe is gluten-free; a slice of vegan red velvet cake colored with beets; or a fresh vanilla pastry cream-filled tart with itty-bitty melon balls and whole raspberries. You really can't go wrong.

On the whole, Bluestem's food is on the more affordable end of the spectrum than that at other wine bars. Small plates are great if you want to taste a lot of dishes and share things, but sometimes that excitement gets the best of you and your bill can creep up. Since Bluestem focuses more on the entree and sandwich offerings, you could easily be full and happy with a plate of trout romesco or a fresh, crunchy Thai chicken sandwich and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (only $5 during happy hour) for right around $20.

While service was competent, I wish they had given more of the "this-is-what-we're-about" spiel. This seems an ideal place to make suggestions for wine pairings, but whenever we asked questions we got the same recitation of oenophilic vocabulary words describing each one: "It's dry but not too dry," and "that's pretty fruity," and, on more than one occasion, "I've never tried that one." I appreciate honesty and transparency, but there is a certain expectation that comes with wine-bar dining. It doesn't have to be pretentious, but a little education, especially where things like biodynamic wines are concerned, helps to demonstrate the value of your concept.

Desserts get star billing at Bluestem
Alma Guzman for city pages
Desserts get star billing at Bluestem

Details

Bluestem Bar & Table
2610 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
612.870.7855;bluestembarandtable.com
starters $5-$12; entrees $10-$22

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Bluestem manages to fit with its parent company's image and still set itself apart from other wine bars in the area. As far as I know there is not another place to get a gorgeous, gluten-free chocolate-covered lingonberry torte, a scoop of vegan frozen custard (made with soy milk), and a glass of sustainably produced Lambrusco, and there is certainly an appreciative and ever-increasing audience for that in these parts.

Don't forget to check out all the gorgeous photos from Bluestem Bar & Table...

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