Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Nicollet Island Inn

Nicollet Island Inn

December 10, 2015

We first went to Nicollet Island Inn in 2004 and liked it so well we gave it a "5 Plate Licker" designation.  If this needs an explanation, we did not leave a bit of sauce or crumb on our plates.  By consensus, we rarely return to a restaurant, preferring to choose from the wide variety of wonderful eateries in the Twin Cities.  This is the only restaurant we have returned to a number of times.  In the summer, we sit outside; in the spring we have enjoyed brunch overlooking the river.

The restaurant was decorated beautifully for the holidays.  Immediately the scent of freshly-cut greens filled the air upon stepping through the doors.  Tiny, twinkling lights sparkled throughout the dining room.

After visiting several restaurants with high ceilings and poor acoustics, we appreciated Nicollet Island Inn and the calm atmosphere enabling us to enjoy a glass of wine while catching up with one another.

We chose two appetizers - the Beef Tartare and a Beet Salad.

Beet Salad - wonderful!  This included roasted and pickled beets with a variety of  spring greens .  The salad dressing drew many compliments.  The golden beets were pickled, the red beets roasted providing an odd contrast.  Beets are a favorite with most of us but we would have preferred either roasted or pickled, not both in the salad. 

Steak Tartare - this wasn't up to their normal high standards.  We found the beef to be a little chunky, similar to the texture of ground beef and agreed that it needed more seasoning.  The grilled bread served with it was wonderful with a black pepper twist.

We chose 3 main courses.

Mushroom Gnocchi - we wouldn't change a thing; it was very good.  This dish featured wild and cultivated mushrooms that tasted almost caramelized and potato gnocchi with taleggio cream, truffle oil and pecorino cheese.

Lamb Duo -  this was a Rack of Lamb and braised Lamb Shank combination.  The lamb was done perfectly, medium rare as ordered; the braised Lamb Shank was tender and seasoned with cumin.  The Rack of Lamb could have used more seasoning to compete with the cumin but was beautifully served and very tender.  The dish was served with root vegetables and was enjoyed by all.

Scallops - served with acorn squash risotto.  The scallops were pan-fried, perfectly cooked, the risotto creamy and rich.  Most of us loved this dish.

Dessert, typically the highlight of our meal, was disappointing.   We chose Salted Crème Brule and Gingerbread cake.  We all agreed both desserts were quite average.

Our waiter was very attentive and gracious about assisting us in making menu selections that are easily shared.

It may have been the atmosphere or because it was the Holiday Season but as we left, we decided to make this restaurant our annual December choice.