If this is a return to the Ice Age, I’m all for it. After exploring the eats at Icehouse, which debuted on Nicollet this summer, I’m prepared to suit up in parka and moon boots — whatever it takes — to return.
The folks behind the Warehouse’s Be’Wiched Deli have brought another dimension to Eat Street with a focus on creative pairings of (mostly) all-American eats, in contrast to the avenue’s wealth of ethnic flavors, in a stunning setting of warehouse chic.
One large room is a glam club for live music, industrial-style, honoring exposed brick in soaring walls, utility concrete floor and shiny HVAC snakes above it. A smaller alcove with cozy booths sides a glassed-in kitchen the size a hotel’s banqueting operation might envy.
And from it comes food that’s equally stylish, and spot-on. From a menu of mostly small plates ($6–$13, and none I didn’t yearn to dig into), we assembled our own tasting menu. First up, a popover-sized cheese soufflé, creamy with milk, egg and cheddar, sided with crisp apple slices whose sweetness was ramaped up by brown sugar and bourbon.
Next, more cheese — as in mac and cheese — the key player in a light cream sauce that flows around pasta knuckles. Sure, sure, I hear you: everybody and anybody’s got it on their menus. But this anti-casserole version comes paired with crab fritters and a touch of tomato. Alas, the kitchen’s spice rack got a workout instead of letting the sweet meat carry the day.
Next, in what instantly became my favorite rendition of my favorite indulgent ingredient, luscious lobes of foie gras in all its bite-and-swoon glory, paired with sweet spears of braised endive, crisped logs of mashed potato, and the essential fruity, cut-the-fat antidote to the luscious liver, a lode of brandied cherries.
From the entrée section ($18–22) after fretting over eat-me choices like smoked chicken with braised greens; ribs with corn fritters; and saddle of rabbit — see what I mean? — and even a foie gras-stuffed burger, we opted for the lobster. No regrets, especially considering the mere $22 price tag for generous, sweet and juicy tail meat. It’s accented, with culinary acumen, with sweet corn (as in a shore dinner), fried oyster (talk about gilding the lily) and to counter the unadulterated sloth, a little punch of guajillo pepper in the broth.
The dessert list reads like this: Pies. How can one not love this kitchen? Slender $5 slices include sweet potato (with orange chili sherbet); French silk (with coffee, orange); apple (with lavender and vanilla ice cream) and our (difficult) choice, coconut cream with key lime curd under snowdrifts of chantilly. Fabulous texture, superbly sweet-tart burst of lime, but one our complaint: Where’s the coconut? There’s also a sundae list that spotlights the likes of bacon/brown sugar.
The Iceman Cometh, and I’m shivering with delight.