BEST CHEF Minneapolis 2008 - Alex Roberts, Restaurant Alma
528 University Ave. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Alex Roberts was one of the first chefs in town to pull the white tablecloth out from under fine dining. After more than a decade in business, his Restaurant Alma serves some of the Cities' most creative, flavorful dishes from a spare dining room in a decidedly unsexy University neighborhood (it's across the street from Santana Foods, if that means anything to you). Roberts's fare—rustic corn-and-black-bean griddle cakes mounded with sweet king crab, braised lamb wrapped in crisp pastry and served with sweet tomatoes and feta—is as refined as a tenured professor, yet fantastically unfussy and utterly devoted to highlighting the seasons. Oh, and did we mention that the $42 mix-and-match prix fixe is the best upscale dining deal around? This past year, Roberts turned his attention to casual eats and opened Brasa Rotisserie, focusing his chef's ethics and intensity on humble roast pork, rotisserie chicken, and a smattering of Latin and Southern sides. This means the meats come from animals raised naturally on nearby small-scale farms, and the cooking and seasoning is always spot-on. It's entirely different from Restaurant Alma, but just as perfect.