Day 16: Dinner with friends at Mona.
On Friday evening we went to dinner with friends at Mona — the restaurant located in the Accenture building in downtown Minneapolis. This is good knowledge to have because you’ll never stumble upon the place unless you happen to work in that building. There’s no signage and it’s not easy to find. Once we got to the building and navigated the parking garage (the elevators weren’t working and the stairway door was locked — an anomaly, we were assured), we were really happy to have made the effort. Mona is tough to locate, the decor is that of your standard hotel bar, but the service is good and very friendly and the food is fantastic.
Built on the small plates philosophy, the four of us each took a crack at ordering a dish and we all shared (each shared dish ends up being 2-3 bites per person, more if you don’t share). Round One: Rabbit and foie gras, fregola (pictured below), pork belly and shrimp on brioche (pictured above). My favorites from this round were the fregola made with tiny round pasta and fresh pea tendrils, feta, basil and lemon. Oh, and bacon. You can add bacon to anything and they cure it in-house. And it’s amazing bacon and the addition *made* the fregola. I also really enjoyed the shrimp on brioche with the buttery bread and the creamy dill mayo with just enough dill — a flavor that can easily overpower delicate food. The pork belly on the potato pancake I could have kept eating all night it was so savory, tender and fall apart fabulous.
Round Two: Marrow on toast, chicken and waffles, polenta (with bacon), the much-lauded elk rib eye and fries. Hands down my favorite was the chicken and waffles. We were afraid we might be disappointed (this dish is everywhere and not many places do it well), but the chicken was crisp on the outside, steamy hot and supple on the inside. The cornmeal sour cream waffle was the perfect vehicle for the chicken with roasted pears and a sweet brown butter honey jus along for the tasty ride.
We were kind of in foodie gluttony overload, so even though we were pretty full (if you’re counting we’re up to about 20-25*very* filling bites per person — a really good-sized meal) , we had to go with dessert. Saffron pots du creme and fresh donuts with hazelnut caramel sauce and … bacon. Our server guaranteed us the addition of bacon to these donuts would forever change the way we look at dessert. And she was right. The big, salty, smoky, chewy chunks of bacon were the Abbott to the hot, crisp and spongy donut Costello. The perfect match.
You know the saying, “Seek and you shall find”? Seek out Mona. The food is really good, they support local farms and food purveyors and the prices are surprisingly reasonable. You get to try a lot of things you won’t get anywhere else. You may think, “Small plates? I’ll need to order everything on the menu and eat it myself.” Not true. You’ll leave so full you may not want breakfast the next day. Or have a snack, it’s a great place for that as well (happy hour goes until 7:00pm). Bonus: If you park in the Accenture underground ramp, your parking is free. This is definitely a place worth seeking out and supporting.