I always get letters wondering about the best vegetarian date night in town. Then I tell people it’s the $20 three-course meal at Café Levain on Sunday nights. Then they tell me Sunday doesn’t work for them. D’oh!
Well good news everyone, chef Adam Vickerman has told me that due to popular demand they’ll be unleashing the Prix Fixe onto Tuesday and Wednesday nights (they’re closed Mondays). This is extraordinarily good news!
Let me tell you about a recent Sunday night dinner I feasted upon. The first course was a kohlrabi soup—a pale, velvety soup enhanced with cheddar fondue, the surface of the bowl lit up with little islands and pools of bright surprise: Bright orange dots of chili oil, yellow mosaic points of marinated mushroom, green points of chive, and that was just the top! Below the surface lurked little islands of further surprise: A few discreet spoonfuls of dried fruit compote made of figs, apricots, and cherries. Every bite was a new thing: Now a cheese-enhanced richness, now a sweet thing, now a bit of spice. It was a tremendous, national-class soup, there are no better soups, it really was as good as soup gets. And I’ve eaten a lot of soup.
Then, a beautiful composition of Brussels sprouts and sautéed apples on a bed of quickly cooked water spinach, all of it united by a bit of brown butter and vinegar and served on a bed of sweet and grounding squash puree: Fall incarnate, and a splendid way to eat the harvest. Finally, local polenta, the creamiest, the freshest, liberally heaped with sautéed chanterelle mushrooms, truffled pecorino cheese, and two glorious sunny side up eggs. It all came together in such a lyrical way, such a song-of-autumn, rich and sensuous way, I was delighted. And $20! For these three courses. The meat-containing version—with scallops in place of the Brussels sprouts and apples, and a quarter-chicken in place of the eggs—ran $25.
So you can see why I’m over the moon that Vickerman and his long-time sous chef Remle Colestock are going to be offering these bargain masterpieces three nights a week. Go.
Café Levain, 4762 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-823-7111, cafelevain.com