Thursday, February 28, 2008

Heidi's - Dangerously Close to Home

After months of waiting for the right reason I finally ate at Heidi's. I had heard plenty about it and have been intrigued for quite some time.Pretty much everything I've read says the same thing... "Why is the old Pane Vino Dolce space so loud", "what's up with the service?" and "good luck getting in there..." Yes it's true many of the neighborhood joints near me have been getting blasted for the toughness of a table and sloppy service, but at the same time many of the places have been celebrated for the imagination of their food. I soon found that the food at Heidi's more then balanced out any of the previously associated discrepancies.

We actually walked in on a Tuesday night... had to wait about 5 minutes at 8:30, but we still walked in. When I initially walked in the sound level was noticeably loud, but Heidi (who was hosting) soon led us around the corner to the side room which was pleasantly quite. Reservation tip - call a few days if not a few weeks in advance and request a table in the side room. It instantly alleviated my concerns, but alas, this was just one visit.

The next knock on Heidi's is the service. I've had some odd dinners in this city and I think no one will argue that as a whole, the Twin Cities food scene is a bit behind the ball when it comes to service, but as long as I have some int iced taste buds I normally don't mind. That being said, our dinner service was about as awkward as the first time you hit the showers after gym class in middle school... It seemed like our server wasn't comfortable in his own skin. Imagine watching one of your friends approaching someone at the bar for the first time, and totally blowing it... The silver service at Heidi's is really too much. We had our silver changed about 5 times throughout our simple, 2 course meal. I felt like a baby chimp getting picked over by a silver back as they reached around me, over my back and at one point actually went under my girlfriends arm to retrieve a piece of silver from a semi-eaten plate without even asking. The greatest offense - The Old Rasputin. Old Rasputin is a beautiful Russian Stout - a bit tangier then a good old Guinness, but still very nice. Anyone who knows their stout knows that it is to be poured carefully. My waiter popped the top and poured this thing as if trying to give Tom Cruise's character in Cocktail a run for the money. Needless to say there was more foam on the pour then I would have bargained for. Despite that fact, beer is beer and none is to be wasted.

Now on to the food. There are many things about food that excite me, including discovering and re-discovering flavors. Now, normally the bread basket isn't all that exciting, and Heidi's didn't look like anything special, but it was late and I was hungry so I tore into a piece of the bread. Two words: Grandma Fazio. The second that bread hit my tongue I instantly flashed back to running around my great Grandma's kitchen as a little boy while watching her kneed dough for the evening meal. Nothing short could ever erase that smell ans taste from my memory and to be able to revisit that feeling was truly special. She has been gone for years and my palate longs to taste her food once again. Major points for Heidi's. That experience alone was more then worth the the awkwardness endured from the waitstaff. Next, my date and I tore into the "Chicken Lollipops." which was a nice little spicy, savory twist on your typical chicken wing appetizer. Paired with a crunchy frisee and candied apricots, the flavor profile was diverse and satisfying - now we're talking. For my main course I went against my carnivorous calling and went with a vegetarian Pappardelle. Pure unadulterated silk has nothing on the texture of their rich, buttery noodles. Perfectly cooked and adorned with the lightest dusting of cheese, this is a serious dish. The Bolognese was traditional in it's foundation but had some lovely chard and magnificently rustic porcinis to accompany the robust flavors of the tomato base. This dichotomy of texture was flavorful, imaginative and far from expected. I loved it. It was the perfect buttery, velvety pasta for a cold winter's night. I sampled my girlfriend's pea and carrot risotto with roasted chicken. Typically risotto at this time of year would be paired with a winter preparation of cheese, cream, root vegetables or simple mushrooms, but the pea and carrot was a refreshing surprise and added a lightness that is typically not experienced with a proper winter risotto. It was fresh and invigorating and all around very pleasent. The bone-in chicken was delicate, well prepared and simple. The flavor combination with the risotto was a perfect fit. Everything was well seasoned and managed to avoid the over-salted, over cheesed pitfalls that we typically run into in the MN winter dining scene. We left the table full, satisfied and conspiring for a return visit soon. It looks like I've found another hit close to home. Now if they could just figure the service out...

Happy Eating,


1 comment:

Carmela said...


Your memories of Grandma's Fazio's bread are making me miss her and her fantastic creations very much. Oh what I would do to bake bread with her one more time and save a little for a freshly fried up pita fritta dipped in sugar! What a pleasant memory Teddy on a cold winter morning. And this would be a perfect day to be baking bread with Grandma. Miss her so much.

Grandma's number 1 granddaughter.

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