Woodworking column: Finding fancy fixin's in Beldenville, nonetheless
Valentine's Day is long gone, but not forgotten by the loving partners who dwell on Walnut Street. When it finally stopped snowing on the day that Walnut Street looked like a scene from "Dr. Zhivago" it was a day after Valentine's but we decided to celebrate big time, to do it up brown (but not overcooked—or overpriced).
We made our way through the drifts to a favorite restaurant, which by the looks of the menu we probably couldn't afford, having recently dined at Manny's Steakhouse in Minneapolis, where the giant ribeye was selling for $125 (sides not included).
It wasn't the prices on the Valentine's Day menu, but the offerings themselves.
Here's a sampling of oh-so delectable treats that astonished our eyes to behold:
Hors d'oeuvres included: Artichoke dip with crostini. Calamari, crisp and crunchy served over green curry slaw, both reminiscent of cuisine that amazed us in Siena, Italy. Fresh blue mussels stewed with sausage, which we hadn't eaten since my 50th birthday at the Presidente Hotel in Lisbon, Portugal.
For a cocktail I was tempted to try the "Triple Kiss," made with peach vodka, a splash of grenadine mixed with sparkling Italian prosecco wine, but remembering my rural roots settled for an icy glass of Jim Beam instead. (You can lead such a boy to prosecco, but you can't make him drink.)
Entrees that seemed to be offered by a fine European restaurant: Duck breast with wasabi potatoes and miso glaze. Lamb chop lollipops. Four char-grilled and marinated lamb loins with bone-in for grabbing and gnawing. Fresh asparagus and portabella cannelloni with three cheeses and roasted red pepper cream sauce. Chef Shane makes his own cannelloni tubes. Fettuccini Alfredo tossed with garlic, cream and parmesan cheese (add a lobster tail for $12.)
Besides the usual filet mignon, rib eye steak and prime rib, this Valentine menu included Bison Wellington, which we hadn't eaten since I was courting my beloved at the Cafe de Paris in the now demolished Dyckman Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Never had it? Take a bison filet, smear it with pork pate, roll it in puff pastry, decorate with mushroom duxelles and serve it with a side of Bordelaise sauce. Bake. Delicious.
Finally there was beef medallions benedict. Grilled medallions topped with Alaskan crab and hollandaise sauce. Seafood? Lobster tails, Canadian walleye, jumbo shrimp, Alaskan King Crab and jumbo sea scallops. All entrees came with homemade rolls, salad and vegetable at no extra cost.
When our waitron asked if we would like to see the dessert menu, we groaned and asked for our tab, which would make the regulars at Manny's green with the envy suffered by those who'd recently departed with so much green.
Where, gentle reader, you may ask did you find such a menu. Charlie's Cafe Exceptionale? The Blue Horse? The Flame Room at the Radisson? Sadly, no, for these icons no longer exist.
Happily for us, we found our ideal menu in Pierce County, at Shady Grove, hard by the metropolis of Beldenville, a town that sports a French name.
Shane and Bridgit's logo reflects the true nature of this almost-Parisian bistro: "Chez de Grove."