Technique: A first look at the student-run restaurant's new location

Veal shank with risotto is one entree option at Technique.
Veal shank with risotto is one entree option at Technique.
Le Cordon Bleu

Technique, the student-run restaurant serving three-course meals for only $10, recently moved to its new location out of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Mendota Heights. It is one of 14 Technique locations found around the country, from Portland to Pittsburgh, and allows students to showcase the French cooking technique they have learned in school. But how does the restaurant stack up?

Technique is a contemporary dining room; both simple and elegant. Silver menus, jazz playing, and a full view of the hustle and bustle of the kitchen. Attire is semi-casual, so it's a nice opportunity to eat a fancy dinner without having to get all decked out.

We were greeted quickly, had our coats taken, and sat down at one of about 12 tables. Moments later, a basket of crusty French bread--and some cinnamon honey butter--appeared.

The Caprese salad is a big hit.
The Caprese salad is a big hit.
Le Cordon Bleu

The first course was the starter, and I selected the French onion soup. Perfectly seasoned, the chefs did not spare cheese or bread in this flavorful creation. The Caprese salad was also delectable--a fried mozzarella ball with basil, tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette.

The head chef walked by, checking on the quality of the meals like a doting parent. The students, who were palpably excited about sharing their creations, passed with flying colors.

Our next course was the main plate. I ordered the veal shank, which was served with risotto and peas. The meat was tender with a hint of lemon. The pork schnitzel was thin and crispy, and was served with red cabbage and spaetzle as well with sauce charcuterie.

Meanwhile, students were demonstrating how to make Café Brûlot, a spiced coffee with Grand Marnier. Flames ablaze, students prepared the drink under the watchful eyes of the head chef, heating the drink and adding a touch of cinnamon, sparks flying. Each table received a sample of the wintry drink; holiday cheer with a kick. Since the drinks weren't exactly inexpensive (beers were sold at $9 a pop), this free sample was certainly welcome.

For dessert, I ordered the chocolate mousse. Well-decorated with raspberry sauce, the portion was generous and the mousse neither too rich nor too sweet. Two thumbs up. The classic creamy cheesecake did not fare as well. It was tasty, sure, but the crust was a bit too hard and the cake not quite firm.

There's something a little nerve-wracking about eating a meal prepared by students, but none of our fears about slow service or burned entrees transpired. Aside from having clean silverware taken (and quickly replaced without us mentioning it), our dining experience was pretty close to perfect. For just $10, it's a steal. If you're looking for a lovely dining experience without a hint of pretentiousness, Technique is a great choice.

Technique 1315 Mendota Heights Rd., Mendota Heights

Lunch seating from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and dinner seating from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Reservations can be made through Open Table or by calling 651.286.2400.

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