BEST STAR-CHEF EXPERIENCE AT A RESTAURANT - 2005
Never, not one time, in all the years of going to Heartland, have we ever had a meal at St. Paul's most earnest and accomplished restaurant without catching sight of Lenny Russo standing at a table, answering questions. Where did the flour for this roll come from? (Waseca.) How do you poach a pullet egg to float it in a cup of duck consommé? (Carefully.) Why does most everything come from the northern Midwest and from sustainable small farmers? ("Because we're trying to live by a certain moral imperative.") Whether these questioners have made Russo's acquaintance during prior visits to his jewel box of a culinary triumph, or simply feel like they know him through magazine articles, Russo takes the time to answer each and every question. That this often seems to evolve into shared glasses of wine and speculation about the future of the universe is only one of the many perks of dining at Heartland. Most restaurants with star chefs see the star in question but a few times a year, but at Heartland, the star, his touch, and his philosophy are at every table, every night.