Best Restaurant (St. Paul) - 2012
Heartland Restaurant and Farm Direct Market
289 E. Fifth St.
St. Paul, MN 55101
The menu is noticeably wordy, but it's the food that is truly a mouthful at Heartland in Lowertown, the downtown St. Paul district that's drawing foodies from all corners who want to experience something truly revelatory. Chef Lenny Russo, a James Beard Award finalist in the prestigious category of Best Chef: Midwest, hasn't slowed down in the slightest since opening this beacon for locally grown produce in 2002 (it moved to the current location in 2010). Since then, Heartland has gained a reputation for thoughtful presentation and, since its menu is contingent on whatever ingredients are freshest, as a steward of sustainability. Russo's ever-changing selection of house-made charcuterie — which sometimes includes a gutsy wild boar braunschweiger, a rich duck prosciutto, goose rillettes, terrines, and pâtés — recalls the finest in Old World dining, whereas dishes like the Asian-inspired rainbow trout with a cornmeal crust and bok choy and ginger broth cater to more modern tastes.