Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Musings of Maude

I love going out to a good dinner, and it had been a while since I'd ponied up and was itching to go out and enjoy a nice night. There's nothing better then walking into a room with a great atmosphere, intense aromas and some good friends to peek your appetite. Sitting down to vibrant food, and cocktail-laced conversation is pretty much my ideal. Unfortunately, between the holidays and the economy, I haven't been able to do it as much, but I'm not going to let it slow me down much anymore.

You can't read a restaurant blog without cringing over closings and small attendance, so I wanted to make an effort to hit a good spot somewhere close to home in order to keep the money in the community much like some of the pillars of the local food movement. I figured I'd head to Cafe Maude just down the street just in case the Armatage Room was open to give a new enterprise a shot. Their wine bar menu, featured Tuesday-Sunday when they don't have a private booking looked incredibly appealing and had some really imaginative offerings. It turns out it wasn't open (instant heartache) on this particular night, but we did score a seating in the main restaurant.

The vibe was strong as normal. Good house music, a strong neighborhood pulse and the clinking of wine glasses provided the rhythm to a good night of eating. Jess and I decided to go light given the recent holiday, but we found that we didn't have to suffer at all for it. Jess ordered there roasted corn chowder - I was eyeing it myself and knew I was in for a bite (mututal understanding) so I gravitated to the nicoise olive chicken flat bread.

The soup came out first and it was a nice substantial bowl. The texture was surprising - not your cream of corn standard, and played really well - robust enough to be a meal. The corn was roasted and sweet, and the fine dice on the potatoes soaked up the flavors well while offering substance. A nice red pepper component rounded out the broth flavors, which really paled in comparison the the crispy bacon and avocado topping. bacon and avocado is pretty much where it's at for me. I think they should run for the presidency in 2012. I'd be the first to sign on. The bacon was perfectly crispy and the avocado was smooth and luscious. Needless to say this was not your status quo soup, and follows Maude's blueprint for taking simple fare and really jazzing it up.

My deconstructed flat bread came out and looked really nice and fresh. I love arugula and it's peppery bite was a welcome feeling. The flat bread itself was a bit tough, and the pickled herb spread was a bit bland, but it really allowed the other flavors to stand out and do their thing. The feta was strong and pungent - a good mix with arugula and the chicken was cooked well and played with it's fellow party-goers well. The roasted red pepper offered some sweetness, and the raw, diced zucchini was an excellent, and unconventional addition. I've never really had raw zucchini in a dish now that I think of it, and it stood up really well. The olives actually played out as a puree which was really satisfying in the fact that it could now hit every bite and wasn't limited to just rolling around on my plate. Again, deconstruction at it's finest. It wasn't the best dish I've had at Maude, but it's a creative little insight into their world, and I left satisfied and happy, which is just what I was looking for. I'll say it again, there is nothing quite like spending a nice evening with good company, great food, and an enticing ambiance.

Next time, I'm going to hit the Armatage Room for sure!

Happy Eating,



kat said...

We need to go back to Cafe Maude sometime soon, we had a great time there before & some good food.
btw did you see the Red Stag in the Bon Appetit best of issue?

HungryinSW said...

I did, and have been looking for a good reason to get there. Found it! Seems like a lot of MN food affairs are getting good foodie ink these days!

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