Haute Dish doles out high-class Midwestern eats for under 12 bucks

To kick off 2012, we're highlighting 12 of the best dishes under $12 in the Twin Cities. Scroll down to view the complete list.

Featuring casseroles, Mac & Cheese, and Pork 'n' Beans, the menu at Haute Dish reads like something from an old-school diner just off I-94. But this isn't the food you've been eating for decades. It's a Midwestern gourmet mash-up that would shock your mama.

"The name is indicative of what we do," says David Walters, one of the restaurant's owners. "It's gourmet comfort food, or whatever you want to call Midwestern cuisine, done with French technique."

"We like to surprise people," he explains. And that's music to our ears. We're digging for $12-and-under dazzlers, and Haute Dish has some intriguing choices in its brunch lineup. But which one will we add to our list?

Haute Dish is owned by a gang of young guns all hovering around the age of 30: Walters and his three partners, Jess Soine, Tim Johnson, and Landon Schoenefeld (who worked under Isaac Becker, Steven Brown, and Alex Roberts, and was the head chef at the Bulldog NE and Barbette).

Friends for years, the foursome joined forces to open Haute Dish in May 2010. "Holy shit," exclaims Soine, as she pauses to think about what they've accomplished. "We're a bunch of kids, we own a restaurant, and we're still open."

Much of their success can be attributed to the concept itself. "We wanted to do something that was wholly Midwestern," says Walters. "This concept wouldn't work anywhere else."

But it's not just about comfort food, it's also about being comfortable. "The goal was to strip away the pretensions that pervade fine dining but keep the same refined food," Walters tells us. "It's a come-as-you-are kind of place."

Although the surroundings feel familiar, Schoenefeld's food is not--and that's by design. "When you go out, you want something different," Soine says. "And Landon flips everything on its head."

For proof look no further than the Tater Tot HauteDish. Unlike its processed predecessor, Schoenefeld's version is built on a base of tender braised short ribs and French-cut baby green beans. He uses a rich porcini béchamel and then adds the finishing touch: elegant potato croquettes.

Reinventing and pushing boundaries has always been part of the plan. "Whether it's the eclectic beer list, our 40 bourbons, or the Tater Tot HauteDish, we want to help people expand their horizons," says Walters.

This summer, the Haute Dish team will be doing a little expanding of its own as it starts catering events. The focus will be small--30 people or less--at offsite locations. And they're game for everything from private functions to weddings to in-home entertaining.

But you don't have to wait for Haute Dish to come to you--you can get it now. And when there's something like the Pat Starr available for the taking, what are you waiting for?

Before we eat, an important question: Who the hell is Pat Starr? Starr owns the Wienery in Minneapolis, where Schoenefeld used to work from time to time. The Wienery has a hashbrown-veggie item called the LandPhil, and Schoenefeld always liked the handle. So when he christened the brunch offerings at Haute Dish, he thought he'd use the same moniker (even though the dishes were different) and poke a little fun at Starr. After some good-natured back-and-forth, Schoenefeld finally decided to change it--and named it after Starr instead.

Regardless of its alias, it's Hangover Heaven. A heap of onions, shallots, garlic, broccoli, and green/red/yellow peppers are all mixed with garlicky hash browns. Then they're topped with boatloads of fresh grated cheddar and eggs any way you like them. You can either go vegetarian for $11 or carnivore for $3 more.

To satisfy a sugar craving, order up a $10 Sourdough Waffle. The waffle itself--which the pastry chef adapted from a sourdough bread recipe--is crispy, golden, and light. It's served with bright orange pears that have been poached with a little chamomile, some candied pecans, and a dollop of goat cheese that masquerades as whipped cream. It's sweet, has wonderful textures, and the goat cheese adds an unexpected but welcomed zip.

If you scan down the menu, there's another tempting treat, but it costs $15, so we probably shouldn't mention it. Which means we won't tell you about its deep-fried-buttermilky-juicy-crunchy pieces of supreme numminess.

Or that when said numminess is piled high with bacon maple syrup and ice cream and perched atop the previously praised waffle, it is breakfast nirvana. Nope. Not gonna do it. And we certainly aren't going to show you a photo.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's time for our $12-and-under selection, which is none other than the Biscuits and Gravy.

Schoenefeld begins by browning house-made sausage and some onion in bacon fat. Then he makes a roux with flour and milk, and seasons it with grated nutmeg, black pepper, and salt.

Meanwhile, the biscuits are made from scratch and covered with cheddar cheese before going into the oven. When everything's ready to go, the gravy is ladled over the biscuits and plated alongside collard greens--which have been blanched and finished with some ham, smoked bacon, garlic, and hot sauce. The greens are tender, the biscuits are flaky, and the gravy is savory with layers of salty, spicy, and sweet.

Call it comfort food on steroids. Home-cooking with an attitude. Or give it whatever label you like. What's old is new again--and it's never tasted so good.

Top 12 dishes under $12 112 Eatery: Tagliatelle with Foie Gras Meatballs Bar La Grassa: Gnocchi with Cauliflower and Orange Haute Dish: Biscuits and Gravy Heartland: Cheese Course La Belle Vie: Pappardelle with Rabbit Bolognese Lucia's: Farmers' Salad Meritage: Crispy Roasted Chicken Thighs Piccolo: Scrambled Brown Eggs with Pickled Pig's Feet Restaurant Alma: Chard Soufflé Saffron: Fried Cauliflower and Slow-Cooked Green Beans Sea Change: Arctic Char Tilia: Potted Meat

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Haute Dish

119 Washington Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55401


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