Brut pop-up offers a look at one of the most anticipated Twin Cities restaurants
Last week, Epicurious named Gavin Kaysen's Merchant one of the most anticipated fall restaurant openings in the country. Small wonder, as the return of this Minnesota native and former executive chef at the Michelin-starred Cafe Boulud in New York represents a pretty big win for the Minneapolis food scene.
But as far as anticipated restaurant openings of 2015 go (yeah, we're looking that far ahead), we've got our sights set on Brut, the collaboration of two James Beard-nominated chefs and lovebirds, Jamie Malone (formerly of Sea Change) and Erik Anderson (formerly of the Catbird Seat in Nashville, and Sea Change before that). They don't yet have a space lined up for their venture, but they're hosting pop-up dinners at the now closed Lynn on Bryant to hone their concept and tease us all with a taste of what's to come.
If you ever had the pleasure of visiting Sea Change when Jamie Malone was at the helm, you'll recognize the artful plating and playful sophistication in Brut's menu. The five-course pop-up menu ($50, $75 with wine and coffee pairings) began with the "scallop cooked and raw," a briny dehydrated scallop cracker topped with a sweet raw scallop, onion, dill, and pepper.
Next up: the beef tartare, a tableau of colors, textures, and flavors, from the translucent discs of tart onion to the sweet rounds of beet to the creamy egg emulsion. The beef itself was mild and soft, offset by shavings of horseradish and pops of salty whitefish roe.
The roast monkfish was buttery and mild, paired with a bright, acidic cabbage to cut the richness, as well as a spicy nasturtium leaf, a cidre-braised mussel, and a walnut brown butter mayonnaise that we now want to put on everything and/or eat by the spoonful. Is it considered gauche to eat mayonnaise by the spoonful? Wait to try this before you answer.
The cheese course celebrated the best that Normandy has to offer: An oozy, Calvados-washed Camembert came served atop a flaky tartlet made with the juice from sauerkraut, then dressed with grilled onions, thyme, and chestnut honey. If you've been paying attention, you'll note that this pop-up offered decidedly fall-flavored dishes, which is no mistake, as Malone and Anderson were busy working out their ideas for a fall 2015 menu.
A burnt sugar and rosemary pudding topped off the evening, with the complex sweet, buttery, and herbal flavors of the pudding buried underneath bits of decadent buttered pecans, crumbled sable (another Normandy nod, along with the cidre-braised mussel from the monkfish -- are we sensing a pattern here?), and a mild buttermilk ice cream. That dessert was followed up in short order by a sea salt chocolate cookie, which is not pictured because it did not last long enough for a glamour shot.
The pop-ups will likely continue as Malone and Anderson build momentum. To stay posted on upcoming pop-ups, follow @brutmn on Twitter. Should you attend one, it's entirely likely your menu will be different from the one described above (such is the experimental nature of pop-up menus), but to be a part of Brut's development, with two extremely talented chefs riffing off one another, is an enticement all its own.
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