Joan's in the Park - A Must Try!

A month or so ago Dave and I were out running errands in St. Paul and the errands ran into dinner time.  We were going to just head to Savoy for pizza but then I remembered hearing about this great new restaurant called Joan's in the Park.  We decided to try it!  The service and the food were oustanding so we knew we would be back.  After we had ordered our wine, one of the owners, Joan Schmitt, mentioned a cabernet franc they also had that the staff just loved.  We decided when we went back, we'd have that wine.

Well, this past Tuesday we had reason to celebrate and decided to go back to Joan's and get that bottle of wine.  Once again, Joan's did not disappoint.

Joans is owned by Susan Dunlop (the chef) and Joan Schmitt (maitre d').  The staff includes four of Joan's children, one of whom, Dan, was our waiter that night.  As with all the staff Dan  was attentive, fun and knowledgable about not only the food but the extensive wine list as well.  The banter between Dan and his mother was fun too!

Of course we had to start the night with that bottle of cabernet franc!

We decided to split an appetizer and salad and each order our own entres.  We'd decide about dessert later!

With every meal a loaf of fresh baked bread is served.  We try not to eat the whole loaf!  As good as it is warm out of Joan's oven, it's even better toasted!

The last time we visited we had the crab cake.  It was more crab than cake prepared with taragon and was served with a caper aioli adding just the right amount of salt.  Had it been socially acceptable to lick the plate we would have!

We decided to try something different this time so we ordered the Chorizo Stuff Demi-Sec Plums.  The plums were stuffed with chorizo with just enough heat to offset the sweetness of the plums and demi-sec.  The plums were wrapped with an Alto Adige speck ham (think proscuitto) and served with a Tutta Calabria pepper sauce.  Delicious doesn't cover how amazing this tasted.  The sweet plums, the salty and spicy chorizo with the hot pepper sauce was a blend of flavors that just danced in your mouth!  Tuta Calabria is a hot chili pepper for those of you who haven't had them before.

While we were eating our appetizer, Joan brought a couple of glasses of white wine to our table.  She said the wine paired perfectly with that appetizer.  It was a Clean Slate Rieseling and Joan was right, it paired perfectly with the plums!  Dave drank the entire glass and he doesn't even like white wine!

For our salad we selected the Apple Goat Cheese which was spring greens topped with goat cheese, apple, dried apricots, caramelized walnuts and a honey dijon vinaigrette.

Do you think I liked it?

The last time we were there one of the more unique sides was suggested but we passed.  This time we had to try the roasted radishes.  Yes, roasted radishes.  The chef roasts the radishes with a little sugar and salt and serves them with a browned butter / maple syrup sauce.  You have to try these radishes!  The heat is roasted out of them and the nuttyness of the browned butter and the sweetness of the maple syrup are a perfect complement.  We ate the entire dish of them!

For dinner I decided to try the scallops.  Last time I had the goat cheese ravioli which were to die for!  The scallops were delicous as well.  They were perfectly seared and served with roasted cauliflower with toasted almonds and orange zest (definitely going to try that) with a beurre blanc sauce.

Dan talked Dave (it wasn't hard) into the salmon with miso glaze.  It was served with green beans and a sesame lemon vinaigrette.  They typically cook the salmon to medium but Dave asked for it to be cooked through and that wasn't a problem for them.  It came out perfectly cooked and as delicious as Dan said it would be.

The portion sizes are just perfect.  Not to huge but not "elf food" either.  Even after bread, an appetizer, salad and our entree we found room for dessert.

We chose the same dessert we had last time we visited, the Browned Butter pudding.  I can't even describe how this tasted.  The pudding is rich and velvety with great butter flavor.  It's topped with a chocolate caramel (the best caramel I've ever had), whipped cream and a little citron salt.  They even give you a little spatula so you can get every last bit of it.

How do you think we did?

We love Joan's and we'll be back again and again.  The little building on Snelling used to be a pizzaria.  Who would think that such amazing food could come out of such an unassuming little building?

They have an impressive wine list and a full bar. 

Joan's is unique in that it's great for any occassion.  Want to dress up and go have an amazing, romantic dinner?  Joan's can do that.  Want to have a casual dinner in jeans?  Joan's can do that.  Want to come in wearing shorts and flip flops?  Well that works here too.

Our plan for next time is to sit at the bar, have an appetizer and a flat bread and some good wine and chat with the staff.

So go to Joan's.  You won't be disappointed!

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