Restaurant Alma 6/29/2013

Even though I spent most of 4 years in the neighborhood of this next restaurant and even had heard great things about it back then, I didn’t make it here until the summer of 2013. While it doesn’t get a much attention from the press, Restaurant Alma’s Alex Roberts won City Pages Best Chef 2008 and then more prestigiously, the James Beard Best Chef: Midwest in 2010. Alex Roberts is also known for Brasa Rotisserie, another great restaurant in Minneapolis.

Venue

The interior is kept bright and open in a self-described “rustic, historically-preserved building.” The location is just up the street from the St. Anthony Main and Stone Arch Bridge area, so great for an early-ish dinner and evening walk in the setting sun.

Food&Drink

The menu was set as 3 courses, with 5 options for each course. Below is a description of what I selected, preceded by a nettle soup and crostini amuse-bouche.

  • Wild Nettle Soufflé – coconut-jalapeño sauce, snap peas & curried cashews
  • Carolina Rice Grits – shrimp, ginger, fried garlic & chili oil
  • Grilled Prime Beef Sirloin – slow cooked scallions, artichokes & zinfandel sauce

Nettle in general (alongside Brussels sprouts and kale) seemed to have made it into fad status in the hipster scene, if those can be considered not mutually exclusive concepts, but I enjoyed both the nettle soup here and at Bachelor Farmer, though this one was more of a shooter. I guess it was an upscale take on soup and sandwich. If I had known we were starting with nettle, I may not have chosen the soufflé, and instead opted for the Warm Pork Terrine (fingerling & summer bean salad, sherry dressing) or Halibut Tartare (fresno peppers, cherries & pistachios). The beans were very fresh and still crispy and sweet, and it was novel for me to eat whole nettles. I had never had grits before, and while they typically do not sound appetizing, I figured this would be a good way to try them. The shrimp and chili oil were my favorite parts, though I think normal grits are probably something I don’t need to delve into. The beef was cooked perfectly for me (I enjoy a good medium rare), and the zinfandel sauce was delicious.

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Price

For $50, this meal was a steal. There is an a la carte option, but the “tasting menu” is well worth it. Restaurant Alma is known for being a great deal for fine dining, and I couldn’t agree more. This is probably the best deal you can find without sacrificing on quality of food and service.

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