Bar la Grassa

Julia Weber, staff writer

Aside from the friendly and sharply dressed staff, the sound and smell of the sizzling culinary creations in the open kitchen draw the customer into the hip atmosphere at Bar La Grassa––named 2009 Star Tribune restaurant of the year.

The dim lighting and candlelit tables convey romance, while the busy waiters and waitresses work to satisfy the customers’ every need. Exposed ceilings, contemporary light fixtures, floor-to-ceiling windows and funky chandeliers give this restaurant a modern vibe. At the same time, the walls made of brick and weathered wood, decorated with old-fashioned photography instead of TVs, add a rustic twist to the environment.

Every party gets a dish of gigante beans to try at the beginning of the meal. This appetizer, drizzled with olive-oil, gives Bar La Grassa a commendable first impression.

After the gigante beans, the challenge is to choose just one of the 13 exceptional antipastis on the menu. The apple prosciutto salad with gorgonzola stands out because of the unfamiliar combination of ingredients. The inimitable mixture of thinly sliced apples, juicy prosciutto ham, and rich gorgonzola cheese surprisingly make it one of the most satisfying antipasti dishes on the menu.

Choosing a main entree can be a difficult task at Bar La Grassa because of the array of choices––34 main entrees. One of the best-selling pastas on the menu is gnocchi with cauliflower and orange, and the doughy texture of these bite-sized dumplings and the fruity kick from the orange strays away from most people’s conception of pasta.

The gnocchi definitely has the satisfying ability to fill up any customer’s stomach, but that does not mean that there is no room for dessert. The salted butter and caramel crespelle––one of the mouthwatering desserts on the menu of about seven––contains simple ingredients that end the meal in a delightful way. The heavenly combination of the warm, sugary caramel, dense crepes, and the droplet of melt-away vanilla ice cream on top does not disappoint.

If you want a reasonably priced meal for the entire family––prices range from about $6 to about $36 per menu item, with the average price being somewhere around $20 per person––Bar La Grassa’s surprising menu choices and excellent service are definitely above par and assure that every penny will be wisely spent.