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Dinner at Joan’s

Posted Monday, April 29th, 2013 08:04 pm GMT -5 in Family, Food

I don’t even remember where I read it, but one of the food sites I follow mentioned something about Joan’s in the Park being one of the best restaurants in St. Paul. Since I somehow missed hearing about this place, I made reservations for Sunday night and we checked it out.

Located in the former Grampa Tony’s building on Snelling at Bayard in Highland Park, Joan’s has been open about two years, according to our server. Run by chef/owner Susan Dunlop and maître d’/owner Joan Schmitt (Morton’s the Steakhouse, The Capital Grille and Tria) and their kids, the place is very small and focuses on locally sourced ingredients.

We ordered a couple of drinks (sparkling cosmo for me) and waited a fairly long time for bread. The email confirmation said dining here takes a long time, and we soon found out why – the onion bread was delivered straight from the oven! Very tasty.

Our selected starters and salad included:

  • SEARED DAY BOAT SCALLOP IN SMOKY GAZPACHO – tomato, cucumber, ginger, serrano, toasted croutons, cilantro
  • POTATO RÖSTI WITH SOFT EGG frisee, Benton’s smoked hickory bacon, two hearted ale vinaigrette, truffle
  • BUTTER LETTUCE FRESH HERB toasted walnuts, gorgonzola dolce vinaigrette, lavender honey

Loved all of that – the potato starter was like a really fancy breakfast all rolled into one and I’m still a sucker for a good butter lettuce salad (this was second only to TBF on my personal butter lettuce favorites list).

For the main course, Colleen ordered the market fish (the name escapes me) and I ordered this:

  • NIMAN RANCH PORK TENDERLOIN 8oz maple brined seared pork tenderloin, Swiss chard, Benton’s hickory smoked bacon, currents, citrus butter, whipped potato

The pork and whipped potato matched perfectly – tender, buttery and a larger than expected serving size. Colleen ate the Swiss chard and said it was perfection.

For desert, Colleen was told their signature brown butter pudding had no egg, so she tried that and loved it, saying we needed to bring the kids back just for that. I ordered the hot chocolate cake, which didn’t quite match up to my Roy’s standard for molten chocolate cake (but was still very good).

Aside from that first long wait for bread, the rest of the courses came out at the speed you would expect. Our server was very good at making recommendations and I’m pretty sure both owners made appearances at our table at various times during the night.

I’d go back, but I have to ask Joan about their web site: why do you sometimes use lower-case “joan” in some places and upper-case “Joan” in others?

Originally published by DK on April 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm

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