Some diners might find sampling a tray of charcuterie, or an assortment of cooked and air-dried meats, spookier than any haunted house offerings of spaghetti-as-brains. But for adventurous eaters, slightly mysterious meat can be a treat. Because City Pages has proclaimed charcuterie the best restaurant trend of 2010, we decided to give you a glimpse of two of the tastiest spreads in the Twin Cities for this week's Food Fight.
Haute Dish Haute Dish charges $13 for its charcuterie plate, or "Char Cuts." The charcuterie is served on a natural wood platter and comes with half a sliced baguette. The plate gives an impression of spare elegance. Selections were carefully placed and garnished: paper-thin slices of pistachio-studded mortadella, topped with dehydrated onion; lamb terrine with a dab of dill yogurt; chicken liver pate with brandied cherries; and a duck pate wrapped in bacon, topped with a bit of mustard and a fan of gherkin slices. The flavors of the charcuterie were stellar, especially the lamb terrine's mixture of eggplant and garam masala.
112 Eatery 112 Eatery makes its $12 charcuterie plate Minnesotan-friendly by calling it "cold cuts." The charcuterie offerings are abundant--from thin-shaved salami to cubes of mortadella, two kinds of pate, and fatty pancetta. There are plenty of complements for the meats, too--tiny gherkins, a small dish of spicy pickled vegetables, sinus-clearing mustard, hard-boiled egg. The dish is big enough for two people to share as a starter or hearty snack. The only complaint--not enough crostinis to eat the charcuterie on.
The winner: We liked Haute Dish's char cuts best, though it was by a margin as thin as its mortadella slices. It looked elegant, and the flavor combinations between the charcuterie and the garnishes were well balanced. And with such interesting offerings, we'd order it again just to see what new pairings would appear on the plate.