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The three most adventurous dining events this month

"Lucky springroll #8" will be served at the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration at Rainbow Chinese

"Lucky springroll #8" will be served at the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration at Rainbow Chinese

The act of filing into a dining room and letting a chef have his way with you can breed anxiety. That makes prix fixe dinners, wine dinners, and beer dinners an act of faith. You plunk down a fee, you get what the chef gives you, and that’s that.

Instead, try these three exceptional dinners for the month of February, which include a Valentine's event that flips cliche, a native dinner that flips colonialists the bird, and a Chinese New Year menu that celebrates change. 

Love Stinks:

A Celebration of Edible Aromatics at Nighthawks

Finally, a dinner has come along to give baroque Valentine’s Day menus a good, hard shove. Instead of the usual treacle, Nighthawks Diner will present an a la carte dinner of 10 small plates of “smelly goodness.” Think ferments, garlic, and fishy stuff. Prices range from $8-$15. After all, the true test of whether you really like someone is if you still like them when their breath smells like a meatpacking yard.

The menu:

Sean Sherman will present a precolonial meal that leaves European cooking technique in the dust.

Sean Sherman will present a precolonial meal that leaves European cooking technique in the dust.

*Roasted beets, granola, caramelized yogurt, fermented pomegranate 

*Lamb tartare, puffed rice, thai chili, pickled radishes, fish sauce vinaigrette 

*Garlic custard, marmite broth, smoked trout roe, chive flowers 

*Turkey giblet yakitori, apple kimchi, fermented black bean cranberry sauce 

*Taleggio artichoke dip, spinach, garlic chips, olive crackers 

*Beef tongue Reuben, rye, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, poached egg, 1000 island hollandaise 

*Potato puree, limburger cheese, pumpernickel crumbs, raw onion 

*Griddled braunschweiger, fermented kohlrabi pain perdu, mustard, dill 

*Fried mackerel, romesco, marjoram, nice olive oil 

*Soft polenta, beet-dyed egg, preserved mushrooms, parmesan 

*Durian frostbite 

February 14 

Nighthawks

3753 Nicollet Ave. S, Minneapolis 

For reservations: [email protected] or 612-248-8111

Precolonial Mexican Feast:

Ra Ndakku + Taza Feast of the Sorcerer and the Eagle

Precolonial cooking means reversing much of what we know about cuisine. When we sit down to a restaurant meal, it's usually cooked predominantly with European technique. Even much of the Mexican food we know and love is influenced extensively by Spanish contact.

Get a chance to taste what food was like before Europeans had their way with the Americas at the Feast of the Sorcerer and Eagle. Sean Sherman will present a six-course indigenous “Mixteco” menu, which refers to the pre-colonial region of Oaxaca.

The menu:

*tiakui ya’a (fish cured in lime)

*ndaku, u vindia (hominy soup)

*nana (smoked duck)

*ticoo na mole (rabbit tamale)

*ixtaa ndunchi (heirloom black beans + fresh tortillas)

*nieve na tichi (avocado sorbet + chocolate mole)

Saturday, February 6

Social hour 5:06 p.m.

Dinner 6:06 p.m.

Bedlam Theatre

213 E. 4th St., St. Paul

bedlamtheatre.org

$115 with alcohol pairing, $90 without

Visit sioux-chef.com for ticketing info

Health, Wealth and Luck

Chinese New Year at Rainbow Chinese 

According to the Chinese calendar, 2016 is the year of the “red fire monkey,” and Rainbow Chinese has scheduled a special New Year dinner to celebrate.

The menu is a glimpse into the larger changes the Nicollet Avenue stalwart has in store for 2016, where chef/owner Tammy Wong is embracing the traditional cooking techniques of her family. Beer, wine and sake pairings will be curated by Jeremy Pryes of Pryes Brewing and Miraculum, the award-winning craft brewer.

The menu:

*Vinegar-braised beef tucked inside deep-fried bao

*Spring roll with fish roe caviar, watermelon radish & preserved fennel, and local mixed micro-greens 

*Wonton with savory Dungeness crab and sweet Miraculum Citrus Sauce

*Housemade fermented pickles

*Duck leg confit with crimini mushrooms & Chinese mustard greens 

*Health & wealth salad with sweet watercress, Asian pear, house-preserved mango & sour ginger dressing

*House-cured, five-spice bacon fried rice with Asian celery, wild rice & taro

*Szechuan peppercorn, “firecracker” shrimp dumpling, and yardlong beans with Chef Wong's famous, house-made black bean sauce

*Noodles with lotus root & mushrooms with sweet bean curd

*Sweet, steamed dumplings with citrus syrup & fresh tangerines

Monday, February 8, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m

$88 per person

Rainbow Chinese Restaurant and Bar

2739 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis 

eventbrite.com for tickets