Category Archives: Eating My Way Through Life

Personality On a Plate

I know a lot of chefs who work for someone else and as much as I think I may “know” them, I am not sure you really get to know a chef until he or she is working for himself in complete control of the menu.

I was caught a bit off guard when I heard that Michael Agan was opening Xavi Restaurant. It never occurred to me that he wanted to own his own restaurant, as he’s worked for pretty “corporate” kitchens since I first met him when he was an executive sous chef at Chambers Kitchen.

Including not knowing how to pronounce “Xavi” (our server kindly told us “zsa-vee”, like Zsa Zsa Gabor, which was very helpful), I had no idea what to expect. Reading through the menu, I was thinking three different things: 1) not a single chicken item on the entire menu 2) the combinations of ingredients made me very curious 3) I don’t know if I would have matched up this menu with this chef.

We started our meal with Spring Carrot and Bibb Salad, Mushroom Broth, La Belle Duck Breast and Shrimp and Grits. I enjoyed all of the dishes, but special note of my favorite elements of the emulsified carrot dressing on the salad and the pork dumplings in the Mushroom Broth.

Xavi Carrot and Bibb Salad
Xavi Mushroom Dumpling Soup

For our main course, we had the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs, as well as the Lemongrass Marinated Pork Loin. In general, I’m a huge fan of short ribs, so expected that to be my favorite, but I have to say the pork loin was very delicious. Aside from pork products bacon or ham, I might have pork loin once every year or two, so Xavi may be my go to place for pork from now on.

Xavi Pork

I like that the restaurant is in a quieter neighborhood, as it resulted in a nice relaxing evening.

However, the best part of dinner was discovering the real Chef Michael Agan on a plate.

Xavi Restaurant
5607 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis

Smack Shack Chicago!

If you are in Chicago, its worth checking out the new Smack Shack in the Google building!  During the VIP Grand Opening Party the hurricanes were flowing and the lobster rolls were rolling!

Smack Shack Chicago - Entrance

Smack Shack Chicago - Entryway

Smack Shack Chicago - Tattinger Sponsored Raw Bar Ice Sculpture

Smack Shack Chicago - DJ

Smack Shack Chicago - Grand Opening Guests

Smack Shack Chicago - Lobster Guacamole

Smack Shack Chicago - Shrimp Boil

Smack Shack Chicago - Hightop

Smack Shack Chicago - Main Bar Guests

Honor at Vieux Carre

Renovating the Artists’ Quarters space in St. Paul has been a much bigger undertaking than one would think given the size of the space.  However, the last several months have been a labor of love for the owners and manager, Martina Priadka, creating Vieux Carre.  Although the kitchen is small, it looks like it could produce some food that will pack a culinary punch!

As Martina was working on her wine menu one day, I asked who her main wine suppliers were.  She mentioned she was excited that the wine list would be a departure from Vieux Carre’s older sister, The Dakota.  In particular she expressed excitement over a wine she put on the menu from the Honor Winery.

It’s a winery that distributes wine with a portion of the proceeds from each bottle of wine sold going to families of military men and women who have either lost their lives or been severely injured.  It really is a beautiful sentiment, communicated through the simple beauty of the bottle.

Vieux Carre opens its doors next week.  Be sure to sample some Honor Wine.

Honor Wine

Morel Mushroom Fanatics

If you’re one of those big Morel Mushroom fanatics (who knew this was a thing?), you’re going to want to make sure to attend the first annual MN Morel Fest!

Morel Fest Postcard