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Birdhouse on Hennepin, they’ve flown the coop –

Last night we enjoyed a quiet dinner on the second floor of Stewart and Heidi Woodman’s latest restaurant, Birdhouse.  I know it’s been open for a while but last night we finally got out of our rut and made a reservation.  Luckily, neither a stereo speaker nor a TV were mounted in the room where we sat.  Therefore, we didn’t have to yell to carry on a conversation.  I know, I know, just call me old-fashioned.  However, according to another blog I was reading today, we are both hoping this is the wave of being unplugged while dining starts in 2013.

Reading the drink menu from top to bottom, I couldn’t make up my mind as they all looked intriguing.  I wanted to go down the list enjoying each one!  I realized, however, that wouldn’t be the wisest move.  Collin, our waiter, was twisting my arm to try the Raven but the Sidecar with flamed orange infused brandy had my name written all over it.

With cocktail in hand, we read the dinner menu from front to back while poor Collin patiently answered our questions, providing every detail; how’s the cod brandade prepared; tell us about the lamb neck with spaetzle; oh and is the linguine house-made? Hmmm, so many choices.

Just because — we ordered the deviled eggs and the cod brandade as a first course.   In the end, the best part about the egg was the pickled celery.  Who knew there could be “pickled celery”; but why not?  I was amazed at how much flavor could be packed into one small julienne gently resting on a mound of creaminess with a hint of truffle oil; though, it could have used just a titch of salt.  The brandade of cod was smooth with small dices of perfectly cooked potatoes and topped with a bit of tomato jam.  The combination made for a tasty spread for the basket of crostini that accompanied it.  I wanted to order the fried smelt with remoulade sauce, but couldn’t convince my dinner companions to partake.  Next time, with the hope they are still on the menu.

For my main course, I landed on having the spareribs with sautéed greens and baked beans and a side of Brussels Sprouts.  The ribs didn’t have the usual stickingly sweet sauce, but were smoky, tender, and delicious.  The bed of greens were gently sautéed and accompanied by baked beans that had never seen brown sugar nor ketchup.  All paired beautifully with my glass of Trenza Tinot a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Grenache and Mouvedre.

Chris enjoyed a plate of light as clouds ricotta gnocchi with spicy lamb in a flavorful pomodoro sauce.  Of course, JT, being the breakfast expert, ordered his easy-over eggs with with lamb sausage and wild rice pancakes with real maple syrup.  There were no complaints coming from his side of the table, so he must have enjoyed every morsel.

It wasn’t long before we got on the subject of France with Collin; imagine that!   He was there for two weeks back in June and gave us the low down on where he stayed in the cities that he had  visited.  He raved about the New Orient Hotel [1] in the 8th arr and the charming village of Cassis [2] just east of Marseille. I wonder if I can convince anyone to go with me to France again?  He also mentioned the fact that his spouse works for a publishing company and they produce e-cookbooks.  I may need to pull the cookbook project off the shelf in 2013.

All in all a great evening and would definitely return as everything on the menu looked delicious.  Birdhouse on Hennepin, 2516 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405, 612.377.2213.