I couldn’t help but be excited when one of dinner on the farm’s featured chefs let me know he was bringing his love of local food to a new restaurant opening downtown! I went to visit Aaron Uban at Mona Restaurant last week. The beautiful dining room was a lovely welcome from the busy rush outside of the downtown lunch crowd.
We started our meal off with a silky asparagus soup paired with grilled bread. The simplicity and fresh flavors could not have been more balanced in this dish. Next, we tried a white bean salad with watercress, red onions, kalamata olives, hard-boiled egg, fiddlehead ferns and a lemon vinaigrette. I could easily eat this salad for lunch every day. It was light but filling and included so many of my favorite little springtime wonders.
The elk rib eye we ordered really blew me away. Lean, but so rich and flavorful and seared to a rare/medium-rare perfection. And the rosemary hollandaise it was served with…well, I think that speaks for itself. Everything was paired wonderfully with a French Rose, the Chateau de Triquevedel Tavel from Corbieres.
The thing that impressed me the most about Mona’s menu was the commitment to using seasonal and local ingredients. I know, I know, everyone is doing that now but this seemed different somehow. Subtle, but intense (if that’s possible). There were little touches thrown in here and there across the whole menu: watercress, fiddleheads, mint and other spring herbs, asparagus, etc. It was a true testimony to the excitement of fresh, spring flavors after a long winter filled with root vegetables.
I can’t wait to go back to Restaurant Mona. Maybe I’ll see some of you there for Happy Hour and we can toast to the flavors of the season!
333 South 7th Street, Minneapolis