It had been a couple years since we last ate at the Craftsman Restaurant on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Recently, the new chef Mike Phillips has been getting a lot of press so my wife and I decided to see what all the hype was about. We would not be disappointed. Chef Phillips and his wife Michelle opened and ran Chet's Taverna, a popular neighborhood restaurant that was committed to working with regional and organic ingredients. After operating Chet's for 6 years, Mike closed Chet's in 2004. His interest in sustainable living, organic quality, and European cooking techniques are an integral part of The Craftsman. We started out with the Pork Rillettes and Artisan Cheese Plate. The Pork Rillettes is basically a seasoned pork pate served with crostini and spicy mustard. It was delicious and a very generous serving. Four people could have easily shared this. We picked two of the many artisan cheeses offered for our plate. First we tried the 'Winnimere' from Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont. It's made from Ayrshire cow's milk and is similar to a Brie and very creamy. We also tried the Uplands Cheese 'Pleasant Ridge Reserve' which is a Gruyere made from cow's milk in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Both were great.
For the main course I tried the Grilled Fisher Farms pork chop with new potato and cipollini onion gratin and grilled maple sausage. The pork chop was good but a little bland paired with the excellent potatoes and sausage. The gratin potatoes were some of the best I've ever had. The sausage, like the chop, also came from Fisher Farms in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota. I'm going to try and track down this sausage. My wife tried the Grilled grass fed Flat Iron Steak with fries and Bearnaise sauce. It was great and I especially enjoyed the super thick Bearnaise. Like the appetizer the portions for both entrees were very generous.
For desert we decided to try the Heirloom Apple Crisp and Brioche Bread Pudding. A lot of restaurants serve apple crisp but the Craftsman's version is a cut above the rest served with a scoop of Izzy's cinnamon ice cream. Even better was the Bread pudding. I can't really describe how good it was but it was close to eating a baked stick of butter. To wash it down we shared a glass of the Saint Croix Vineyards Raspberry Infusion which paired perfectly with the bread pudding.
The Craftsman restaurant is located at 4300 Lake Street in Minneapolis, Minnesota just across the Marshall/Lake Street bridge from Saint Paul. You can go to Open Table to make reservations.