112 Eatery

— Originally posted on 8/5/09 —

Absolutely amazing! Everything we tried was unbelievable. They have the best mussels we’ve ever had and for an appetizer they gave us over a dozen mussels. The sweet and sour crab salad was also a hefty sized portion. Lots of large chunks of crab and the taste of the dish was great. For entrees we ordered the pork tenderloin and sirloin in ponzu sauce. The pork was very tender and the mushroom sauce that accompanied it was unbelievable. The sirloin had an amazing taste to it but was a little fatty (the only negative thing we can say about this place). We also shared the gnocchi… again, amazing. For dessert we shared the butterscotch budino — probably one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. Our waiter was very knowledgeable about the food — and we asked him about almost every dish — and did a great job at selling us on a few of the dishes. The rest of the wait staff and the manager were also very friendly. The restaurant is very small and it’s a little confusing as to where you go to check in (there is no hostess), but anyone working there can help you out w/ your reservation. The best thing about this place is the price. Everything’s reasonable (from the $6 glass of wines to the $18-24 entrees). We got a better meal at 112 than most of the places we’ve dined in Vegas (where we live) for half the price.

5 Stars

— Updated below: 3/9/11 —

There are only a handful of dishes that I crave. I’m talking about restaurant items that I’ve tried and fallen in love with. Food so memorable that I dream about them. Food so good that they set the standard for which similar dishes are measured. 112 Eatery has two such items on its menu: the pan-fried gnocchi and the infamous butterscotch budino.

The rest of the food is just as good. Looking at menu, you might not be that impressed because some dishes sound pedestrian while others are so nondescript that it doesn’t do it justice. Plus, there’s such a wide range in flavors and cuisines (Italian, Asian, southern, etc.) that it might be a turn off. But, almost everything that comes out of the kitchen is delicious. Our party of four tried several things and there was only one dish that was remotely close to being a letdown.

//Appetizers//
We started with four oysters ($2.50 each). Served with a cocktail sauce and a sweet soy-based sauced. The oysters were mild and not overly salty.

Fresh ricotta with white truffle honey ($6). A deliciously smooth and soft cheese served with four slices of a toasted baguette. The honey added a nice bit of sweetness to the dish.

Mussels ($10). About a dozen on a shallow plate with a flavorful broth that tasted of curry spices. We went through a lot of bread sopping up the broth. It was a different preparation of the mussels we had our last visit a couple years ago, but probably better.

I thought I’ve had good steak tartare ($9) before. But the one at 112 might be the best of them all. It’s a ridiculously large serving with chunks of onions and garlic surrounded by bread. After mixing in the egg that was sitting on top, we were left with a smooth, rich, and savory spread. Despite how good it was the four of us couldn’t finish it.

//Entrees//
My wife ordered the short rib chili ($16). Here’s a perfect example of the menu underselling a dish. There was no description other than “short rib chili” so we were thinking it was going to be a bowl of chili made up of diced up beef short ribs. Nope. It was a large short rib (the meat was still on the bone) resting on a jalapeño cornbread with sour cream and a green chile sauce on the side. There was no need for a knife, as the meat fell off the bone. It was all the perfect combination of protein and spices.

I didn’t try the dishes that my father-in-law and his wife got, but they loved them enough to clean off their plates completely. The swordfish with mint chimichurri ($24) and the bone-in pork loin with cherries and port ($20) were both hits.

I went with a half order of the tagliatelle with foie gras meatballs ($11) and two country style pork ribs with salsa piccante ($5 each). The tagliatelle is one of their specialties and it’s easy to see why. The thick, buttery and fresh noodles are made in-house and the tiny meatballs are incredibly creamy and have a good bit of salty and savory taste to them. The pork ribs were my least favorite dish of the night. The salsa didn’t have enough of a kick to it and the meat, while somewhat tender, was a little fatty.

//Sides//
The gnocchi ($8) is so light and fluffy but what makes it special is the added crunch from lightly frying them. The added parmesan that tops the dish completes it and makes it the best gnocchi around.

The second side we ordered was the butternut squash with gorgonzola and maple syrup ($9). I was expecting it to be on the sweet side because of the maple syrup but it was perfectly balanced with the tartness of the cheese.

//Desserts//
Despite all the food we ordered we still had room for dessert. First up was the coconut cream tart ($7). A delicate crust surrounded a tasty filling with flakes of coconut. Not bad at all but it was the opening act for the true star of the show. The butterscotch budino ($7) is the show stopper. It’s the mother of all desserts in my book (and I’m not even much of a butterscotch fan). The rich, creamy, and smooth butterscotch pudding is topped with a layer of caramel, a dollop of whipped cream, and a touch of sea salt. Put it all together and you have the best dessert ever. Ever.

We’ve been to 112 two times now and there have been so few misses that the restaurant has become one of our all-time favorites. It may not have any Michelin stars, star chefs who have been on TV, or the fanciest menu. But, it does have food that is exceptionally well executed and flavors that will leave a lasting impression.

5 Stars

112 N 3rd St
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 343-7696

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