“This is a stable and I steal spoons,” Gavin Keysen, Chef and owner of the hottest new restaurant in Minneapolis, MN, the Spoon and Stable, explaining how he came up with the name for his restaurant. The place really was a stable back in the early 1900’s, and you can see Gavin’s Klepto-collection of spoons on the wall. The Biker Chef got duded up, I pulled on my cowgirls boots, and we hit the dusty trail to see if this place was all it was cracked up to be.
Dining at Spoon and Stable is dinner and a show all under one roof. The kitchen is open, separated from the diners by a mere counter. We scored the best seats in the house, according to the Biker Chef who loves to watch his colleagues in action and talk shop, if given the chance. Chef Gavin came right over to us, shook our hands, and welcomed us to his restaurant.
Having ringside seats, like we did, not only could we watch the talented staff work like a well-oiled machine, we could see every dish as it was served up and set on the counter, right next to me! It was fun to watch the details, the concentration, the extra care the staff put into every step of preparation and presentation.
Of course, we wanted to try everything on the menu, but our stomachs, and budget, could only afford so much! This is not a cheap date. So, if you plan to go, and your budget is tight, save up your dining dollars for the month and splurge on one big night. You can’t get anything like this outside the metro, and to experience French-inspired cuisine here in the Midwest is a treat worth waiting, and saving, for. I’ll jump right into our dining adventure. I hope to give you at least an idea of the taste sensations that we experienced at Spoon and Stable.
I ordered the Belgian Endive Salad, and the Biker Chef got the Sunchoke Soup. We shared the Chilled Maine Lobster with avocado mousse, tangelo orange coulis, and hearts of palm. Yes, it was even better than it looks. The salad was crisp, cool, fruity, and the pecans sweet and crunchy. The Biker Chef, who is known for his soups, said the Sunchoke Soup was creamy, flavorful and simply put, “Heaven on a spoon.”
Lobster is wonderful any way, but chilled like that, with the combination of flavors was (kiss the fingers) gorgeous on the tongue! We sampled each others soup and salad and fought over the last bite of lobster. They also served us artisan sourdough bread that had just the right amount of tang in the dough and crunch on the outside. We’re both bread bakers, and love the sourdough, so we know our bread!
The soup, salad, and chilled lobster were Act I. For Act II, we had Vidalia Onion Tortellini, with lamb ragu, eggplant, feta cheese, pine nuts, mint, and Potato Gnocchi with dandelion greens, morel mushrooms, chicken egg, and boudin blanc sausage. The sausage was cooked to perfection, lovely spice and crisp on the outside. The gnocchi (kiss the fingers again, then lick them) was perfect.
You’d think we’d be too full for the main course, Act III, but no. The portions are reasonable, and we shared, so we were ready to delight in the main event. I thought I should order seafood, just because you don’t get good seafood in tiny towns, and it is a treat to have something special. Plus, how could I go wrong with Bacon Wrapped Monkfish with swiss chard, winter squash, creamy barley, and chicken jus. I think I shared only two bites with the Biker Chef.
The Biker Chef went for the Veal Tenderloin, which is larded to add moisture as it is cooked – to a perfect medium rare, served with ash grilled leeks, fried artichoke, creamy polenta, and olive jus.
Chef Gavin shared that in his kitchen the grill man controls the timing of the dish. They base everything off of when the meat is ready. Someone is on the grill, another person is doing sauces. On the other side is the salad station and desserts. The saute’ station was on the far left. Chef Gavin called the orders, (the staff responded with “oui”), plated, and did the finishing touches. He leaned over our lobster and poured the sauce delicately over the dish and wished us “Bon appetit!”
Chef de Cuisine is Chris Nye, who is also very nice. He worked in front of us most of the night. I leaned over and asked the Biker Chef, “Do you think he’s related to the science guy?” He said, “He is a science guy – the science of food presentation.”
After all that, we still couldn’t say no to the dessert menu. We’ll call that the “curtain call.” They looked so pretty and sweet, simply irresistible.
We had an exquisite dining adventure at Spoon and Stable. We sat ringside and enjoyed the whole show. Everyone on the staff was friendly, even looking up now and then to talk to us, making it a very interactive experience! Our server was Ryan who had a fun sense of humor, was not at all irritated by all the questions and my incessant photography. He even took a shot of us, then posed for me to shoot him. He recommended a lovely wine, Morgan, a French Beaujolais, that was just the right amount of sweetness and flavor for the varied meal that I ate. The Biker Chef went for the German Pinot Blanc from Wagner Stempel.
We could have sat there all night, savoring each bite, chatting with the chefs, and joking with the waiter. The room is open and bright, but not too loud. People are happy to be there. They were standing outside the door at 20 minutes to 5:00, hoping to snag the coveted spots at the bar. We called for reservations about a week ahead of time and were lucky, and surprised to get in. They told us that the spots we had were often kept open for “emergencies” (special guests, overflow), and it helped that it was two of us and we could come at 5:00. We had a show to get to in St. Paul (Shooting Star, which I’ll review on Play off the Page.), so we couldn’t linger too long. We’ll save our dining dollars and come back again, reserving the whole evening for the big show.
Thank you Chef Gavin, Ryan, Chris, and the whole staff at Spoon and Stable. You are doing a fantastic job. We wish you much success and happy trails as you continue your adventures in fine dining!