I knew I would return to Corner Table when I ate there last fall during Restaurant Week. It was the best restaurant meal I have had since I arrived in Minnesota as a first year. I immediately made a reservation when I noticed that Corner Table was included in the February Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Restaurant Week. Corner Table is nestled in the Kingfield neighborhood in South Minneapolis at the corner of Nicollet and 46th. The restaurant is a self-described farm-to-table eatery that employs local farmers to provide every ingredient so the food is a reflection of the season. Corner Table is much more than a precious little restaurant that is into being politically correct.
This establishment is a grub heaven. It is a “nice place,” as my mother would say, but it is not pretentious. The portions are hearty and the Restaurant Week menu is affordable if you want to treat yourself. This was a $30 meal (not including drinks) that would usually cost about $50. While this trip was not quite the same mouth-boggling experience as my first time there, it was still an absolute delight for the taste buddies.
My date and I decided to sit at the bar. I recommend this if you are interested in watching the chefs in action. If you prefer to eat with less commotion, I suggest arriving early to get drinks and wait for your table at the bar. You must prepare for the big decision of what to order.
Appetizer: pork belly chow-chow
This dish was simple yet so flavorful. Chow-chow is essentially a pickled relish that can be comprised of a variety of vegetables. The waiter mentioned that the chow-chow usually changes depending on what they have. The chow-chow on this visit was a light, copiously vinegared cabbage. The pseudo-relish complemented the briny, sweet pork belly. For an appetizer, the pork belly was sizable and provided a shot of good-taste endorphins leading into the rest of the meal. Light and tangy, soft and fatty, the perfect combo.
Main course: corzetti, oxtail ragu, sage, sarvecchio cheese
This pasta dish was hearty, savory and fresh. Corzetti are thin, small rounds of pasta, about the circumference of a Cafe Mac cup. Homemade corzetti is usually decorated using a wooden hand tool. The rigid design, like a footprint, allows the pasta to hold the sauce better. The cooks used this technique. Just from using corzetti, the cooks made the dish more interesting. The oxtail ragu provided a protein, but also a soulful sauce for the corzetti. The oxtail was rich and added an exciting, stringy yet satisfying texture to the dish. The light brown ragu was topped pasta with a butter broth of sorts. There was a savory meat base to it. The sage brought out the richness of the ragu and the sarvecchio parmesan was plentiful and gave the dish some needed dryness.
Dessert: sweet potato donuts with a honey molasses dipping sauce
The sweet potato donuts were the highlight. I had this exact dessert in the fall during my first visit. Corner Table is known for the dense sweet potato donuts. In one order of them, the kitchen serves up two medium donuts accompanied by two donut holes. IN ONE ORDER. If you are not full after your entree, you will surely be full after an order of this doughy, earthy-yet-buttery confection. The honey molasses dipping sauce is so delicious because it, like the donuts, is not overly sweet. It is the type of dessert that is not defined by sweetness, but by its butter. I could take shots of the honey molasses sauce. This dish is innovation on a plate.
I understand if you are not willing to spend 30 dollars for a meal, but Corner Table is good place to go with visitors as well. It will get you out of the Mac-Groveland and into an area of Minneapolis where you probably will not go to anyways. For you 21+ friends out there, they have an impressive wine list and a few rotating brews on tap. Their beer selection is not hop heavy as they feature some solid browns, pilsners and porters. Please, please check out Corner Table for your next special occasion.