Bar La Grassa
800 Washington Avenue North
Monday - Thursday: 5:00 pm - 12:00 am
Friday - Saturday: 5:00 pm - 1:00 am
Sunday: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Monday - Saturday: 5:00 - 2:00 am
Sunday 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
It’s Thursday and it’s raining so we head to Bar la Grassa (and take advantage of their valet parking). It’s a big house with 3 or 4 separate dining areas and bar. We are seated in the front near the window with a full view of the kitchen and the stainless steel pasta bar with high chairs separating the kitchen from the dining area. The front is bare wood ceilings, dark brown naugahyde or perhaps leather banquets, dark brown wood chairs and tables. Dark stained 1 x 6’s cover the back wall. The house is full with people waiting in the bar for tables to clear. Despite the numbers, you can still hold a conversation without yelling. The crowd is a blend of tony denizens of the warehouse district, down town attorneys and a selection of Gen X and boomer couples from around the Twin Cities out for a good meal. Dress ranges from trendy, business casual and non-casual, to flannel and jeans.
This is one of our favorite spots. The food is good. The James Beard Foundation awarded Chef and owner Isaac Becker the Best Chef, Midwest in 2011. Our friend and financial advisor Tim Brown gave us a gift certificate for Bar La Grassa and we are finally taking advantage of it. The dinner menu contains 51 items somewhat evenly distributed between antipasta, bruschetta, dry pasta, fresh pasta, filled pasta, secondi, and controni (vegetables and salads). The antipasti and the bruschetta range from $9 to $21. The pastas come in small ($7 - $20) and large ($14- $40) portions. The secondi run from $18 for sausage to $95 for Bistecca for 4. The contorni run from $10 to $16.
Bar La Grassa opened in 2009 and we go there once or twice a year and we have never ordered a standard meal. We end up ordering a bunch of small plates and tonight is no different. We start with two antipasti – roasted beets with burrata and pistachio and seared sea scallops with black rice. The beets come out tomato red covered with small scoops of burrata topped with a sprinkling of pistachios and lightly dressed. They are amazing. The melt in the mouth scallops topped with a dab of pesto have a perfect sear. The black rice is a hyper-nutritious oriental rice also known as forbidden rice. It has a stronger, nuttier flavor than brown rice and is packed with anti-oxidants.
We next tackle a small plate of pasta negra with sea urchin chili, mussels and tomato. Past negra is made with squid ink which gives the pasta a taste of the ocean while the sea urchin reminds me of a tidal pool. The plate also includes a dozen mussels. The plate is unique, provides a nice blend of textures and something we order every time we come here. We finish dinner with a plate of foie gras tortellini. It comes with a sauce that tastes like it is made with a Chinese black bean sauce and a dash of maple syrup. It is too sweet for Nancy but I love the flavors and textures.
Bar La Grassa - its always good and its always interesting. We have never made it past the small plates and probably will never need to.