BEST NEW RESTAURANT - 2003
Of course it would take a guy from Hoboken to give the Midwest the restaurant it most desperately needed. Lenny Russo has long had a reputation as one of Minnesota's most exacting chefs, making all his stocks and other foundations for his cooking from scratch even when he helmed such giant kitchens as W.A. Frost and Company's. But it has only been at his new restaurant, Heartland, that Russo has been able to run free with the idea Minnesota desperately needed: Heartland is a Midwestern kitchen in love with Midwestern ingredients. This may not sound special to you, but once you taste such never-seen ingredients as hand-gathered wild Wisconsin hickory nuts or irony South Dakota goose breast, or local sweet potatoes baked into pies and topped with local apples, then the true genius of the idea--and the true difference of the cuisine--will become apparent. Even though the restaurant opened only last fall, the reasonably priced, fascinatingly various wine list, the ingenious, intriguing cooking, and sweet, sweet service have already changed the way we think about the possibilities for Minnesota cuisine. Could you ask any more of a new restaurant?