Last night Dana surprised me with a date night to Piccolo restaurant in Minneapolis. He had seen this restaurant on Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations, and had been intrigued by it since then. So, we made reservations, got all dolled up, and made our way to Piccolo for a dining experience that I won’t soon forget.
Piccolo says it best: “Piccolo’s cuisine is focused on quality over quantity, putting what is seasonal and creative ahead of what is safe and familiar. We believe in changing our menu frequently, buying locally and seasonally whenever possible, and putting a significant amount of time and devotion into each beautifully presented plate. Call it small plates, “fractional dining”, or simply a tasting menu à la carte. The menu is designed to allow guests a chance to create a different dining experience with each visit, pairing risk with reward.” source
I went into this restaurant with an open-mind; being fully aware that pickled pig’s feet and crispy frog legs were on the menu and that there was a good chance I would be tasting them. How often do you get a chance to try these items let alone at a superb restaurant where you know the ingredients used are incredibly fresh and outstanding? Not very often. I had to step outside of my comfort zone last night and at least try everything. It didn’t mean I had to like everything.
To all of you locals, Piccolo is located off of Bryant and 43rd in Minneapolis.
Upon entering the quaint restaurant, there were only a handful of tables. The host lead us back through the kitchen to a second little room that had three more tables. The room had a very casual ambiance with dim lighting, and a bunch of books stacked on a dresser. You kind of felt like you were in someone’s home. It was a very comfortable feeling.
We had to take a photo with the duck press up on the shelf because Anthony Bourdain talks about a duck press in one of his shows and actually ended up buying one. In case you haven’t noticed, we kinda sorta really enjoy the witty and well-traveled Anthony Bourdain. He is in town this weekend and we were hoping he would’ve stopped into the restaurant last night; I would have freaked!
Because there were so many menu items we wanted to try, Dana and I both chose the 5- course meal option; we each picked 1 item from each of the 5 tasting sections, so that we had ten total dishes to taste.
We ordered a carafe of Zinfandel to share and nibbled on some rustic sourdough bread while we waited for our first dish.
When our first dishes arrived, I was thoroughly impressed. These dishes were so artistically presented. The wait staff explained what was on our plates, answered any questions we had about ingredients, and then we got to the tasting!
Here we go; ten dishes in all to present to you. I learned about a lot of new foods last night so I am going to include those in this post so we can all learn something! ENJOY!
1. Grapefruit with fennel, parsnip milk, fried ricotta, and chervil. Chervil: delicate herb from the parsley family.
Octopus and piquillo pepper bisque with carmelized cauliflower, green olives, and fennel puree. Piquillo Pepper: a sweet and slightly spicy red pepper.
Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed both of these dishes. The grapefruit salad was refreshing and the fried ricotta melted in my mouth. The bisque soup was outstanding–it tasted like an upscale version of roasted red pepper and tomato soup but with delicate bites of octopus and green olives. Dana and I both agreed that we would absolutely order the bisque again.
2. Scrambled brown eggs with pickled pig’s feet, truffle butter, and Parmigiano.
Waygu beef tartare with fermented baby turnips, black sea salt, and smoke. Waygu: Meat from wagyu cattle which is known for its marbling characteristics.
Thoughts: If I were to choose between these two dishes, I liked the egg and pig’s feet better, but I didn’t love either one of these dishes. I have a bit of an issue with certain textures and the tartare was just didn’t please my texture palate. Dana really enjoyed it though; it had great smokey flavor. The scrambled eggs were pretty good but maybe a little too rich tasting to me, and yes, I tried pickled pig’s feet! That was a first.
3. Maine lobster with avocado, couscous, tabiko, and yogurt. Tabiko: a Japanese delicacy, the roe of flying fish (kind of like caviar).
Poussin with crispy frog’s legs, asparagus, “baked” potato, and béarnaise. Poussin: a young chicken, also referred to as Cornish Game Hen.
Thoughts: I enjoyed both of these dishes and to my surprise, I really liked the crispy frog legs (the fried ball on the left side of the plate in above photo). The poussin plate was beautiful!
4. Duck presse with artichokes, steel-cut oats, Spanish chorizo, and mahon. Mahon: from the island of Menorca, is one of a few cow’s milk cheeses from Spain. Mahón boasts a certain sharpness, and its lemony, salty flavors evince the rural Mediterranean seascape. Its rind contains a hard, crumbly cheddar-like texture and darkens as the wheels age. At peak, Mahón is tangy, intense and delicious. Source
Smoked veal breast with braised endive, speck, red grapes, and morcilla. Morcilla: Spanish blood sausage
Thoughts: I enjoyed both of these dishes although I avoided the fat of the veal because of my texture issues. I really liked the crispy morcilla; it tasted like crispy bacon.
5. Pandan leaf tres leches cake with caramelized macadamia nuts and toasted coconut ice cream.
Braised pineapple with chocolate, nuts, caramel, and smoked milk.
Thoughts: I know you’ll find this hard to believe but dessert was probably my favorite part of the whole meal. 😉 Seriously these desserts were incredible and since the portions were so small you really take time to savor every bite. I truly could have eaten a few of these desserts. The smoked milk tasted like a creamy caramel candy that melted in my mouth. Mmm, my mouth watered just thinking about it again.
I am so happy we had the chance to eat at Piccolo and I am proud of myself for trying so many food items that were definitely out of my comfort zone. This was by far the fanciest meal I have ever had. It was so much fun to sample all of those dishes and talk about the flavors and the tastes of each one with Dana. We were total foodies last night and I LOVED it!
The service was impeccable and the ambiance was comforting and quaint. The restaurant was all about the food; they weren’t looking to distract you with a lavishly decorated environment.
It was an incredible experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a food adventure.
On the ride home I realized I didn’t get a picture of my whole outfit and I had actually dressed up for once, so I modeled when we got home.
It was a date night to go down in the books!
I have lots and lots of other fun plans this weekend so I need to get going! I hope you all have a great Saturday!
Have you ever eaten a fancy meal like this? What did you think? Did you try any foods that were out of your comfort zone?