Chocolate with Fish, who knew? Sanctuary the Restaurant

Last week I found another restaurant I wanted to try on Twitter of all places.  I don’t know how I found them but I did.  The restaurant is Sanctuary the Restaurant in Minneapolis.

Being from the SE metro, we don’t venture over to Minneapolis that often and if we do it’s usually Hell’s Kitchen or Oceanaire then over to Manny’s for that amazing bread pudding for dessert!

When I mentioned Sanctuary to Dave, he knew right where it was.  It wasn’t far from his old office at the VA and he said he’d wanted to try it too.

After a couple of Tweets back and forth, I made a reservation for last night.  This week is going to be crazy busy for me.  It’s the week of my Easter Breast Cancer 3-Day fundraiser.  By Sunday I will have made and decorated 10 Easter cakes like the ones pictured below and I will have made four and a half dozen cupcakes as well!  I’m going to be tired on Sunday!

Our reservation was for 6:00 and there was ample parking in the lot next to Sanctuary at that time on a Monday.
The restaurant is beautiful, warm and cozy.  We were greeted by one of the owners, Roger Kubicki, and seated right away.  Once again, we’ve found someplace with fabulous service.  Our server, Kim was knowledgeable and funny and was attentive without being annoying.

We started with a bottle (yes, I know, school night, but really how could we not?) of Artesa Merlot.  We’ve been to the vineyard, we love the wine, and we were thrilled to see it on the menu here in “fly over” country.
Kim went over the menu with us then left us to hash out what we wanted.  As we read the menu more carefully we found a couple of thing about which we needed more information, the chipotle macaroni and goat cheese and the 5 course tasting menu.  The mac and cheese was a must have!  Unfortunately the tasting menu included a lamb course, and, well, I don’t like lamb.  I’ve tried it numerous times, just don’t like it.

Kim mentioned that the steak was her favorite thing on the menu.  There was no question that Dave would be having that.  I opted for the Cobia, which is a fish much like sea bass.

As is usual for us in a new place we split an appetizer and soup and had our own entrée’s then split dessert.
Before our appetizer came out, we were served bread with edamame hummus and spiced almonds.  The hummus was lighter (not as thick) as regular hummus and had a nice light flavor.  The nuts, well, we fought over the last one!

We couldn’t pass up the “garlic, spinach, and parmesan artichoke tartlets, provencal olives, cornichons (that would be pickles) and a shot of white verjus” appetizer after hearing that the chef had “rules” about how it was to be eaten.  The “proper” way to eat them is to put a little of the lavender that had been sprinkled on the plate on your tongue, then a bite of pickle, then a bite of olive, then a bite of the tart so all of the flavors mix in your mouth.  You follow that with a sip of the white verjus, which is the pressed juice of unripened grapes.  We followed instructions!  The tarts were delicious, creamy from the spinach and parmesan, crunchy and a little tart from the pickle and a little salty from the olive.  The crust was light and flaky too.  The downside for me was the lavender.  I’ve never liked eating perfume.  So I just left it off the rest of my bites!

This was the first time we’ve had verjus (you’d think with all the trips to Napa/Sonoma we would have had it before).  It’s interesting.  It doesn’t taste like wine, but it’s not “grape juice” either.  It was light and refreshing, and yes, we finished it.

For our next course we picked the “lobster bisque topped with crème fraiche and black tobbiko caviar.”  I love lobster bisque and I’ve never had caviar before so this was a must try.  The bisque was very good; I’ve only had better one other place, Medrona Manor in Healdsburg, CA.  And the caviar, well, it was ok, but I’m going to be honest I don’t know why people spend a lot of money for it.  It just tasted fishy to me.  Not bad fishy, but like fish.  I’m not sure what I was expecting since its fish eggs!

Next came our entrees and the chipotle pepper macaroni and goat cheese.  I’ll start with the macaroni and cheese.  This most definitely wasn’t something that came out of a blue cardboard box.  The smoky flavor from the chipotle pepper came through nicely.  It was delicious!  And there was enough left for my lunch today!

My dinner was the “cobia, hazelnut cocoa spread, star fruit salsa, curried carrot, sweet torta de aceite.”  Who would have thought chocolate would go well with fish?  Apparently Chef Patrick did!  It’s delicious!  The curried carrot was to die for. I couldn’t tell what it was at first (I’d had enough wine I couldn’t remember what it was).  Mixing that with the chocolate and the fish was one incredible bite.

Then there was the “sweet torta de aceite.”  Wow.  Oh my.  I loved this!  It had a texture between a biscuit and a cracker, not as hard as a cracker but not as soft as a biscuit, sort of cookie-like I guess, but it had an anise flavor that I just love!  And lucky me, it paired amazingly with the Artesa merlot!  I nearly licked the plate clean.

Dave had the “16 oz. certified black angus bone-in new york strip, marble potatoes, crudités, green peppercorn compound butter and sundried tomato tapenade.”  Of course the chef recommended medium rare, but Dave asked for medium and it was done perfectly, pink all the way through but no blood running out!  Dave was generous enough to share one of his marble potatoes with me.  They were delicious, a little crispy on the outside and deliciously creamy inside.  The crudités included peppers, celery and a hardboiled egg.

You’d think after all that we wouldn’t have room for any more, but we did!  For dessert we opted for the “apple cinnamon bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and allspice liqueur crème anglaise.”  The bread pudding was a dense bread pudding almost like a cake.  The flavor was excellent, not too much cinnamon or too much apple but just right.  I will admit we like the bourbon soaked, flaming bread pudding at Manny’s better, but this was very good.

We had a wonderful evening.  The venue is inviting, the music has great variety and isn’t too loud or too soft.  There is a great wine list and the bar well stocked.  Dave checked out the bourbon selections!  The service is superb as well.  We’d love to go back when the weather is nice and sit on the patio.

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