Spoon and Stable is new. Like less than a year old new. And trendy. So much so that reservations are extremely hard to come by. And the last time we were at a restaurant this hot and trendy was…um…probably never. Or at the very least, long before children.
You can google the place and read reviews and discussions about the story of this place–particularly about the chef who left his home town of Bloomington 16 years ago and has returned to his home to make this amazing restaurant. And you can read about the James Beard award it’s up for. And the design award the architects are up for.
So my expectations were high. Because this is a foodie town, some places are simply trendy and not focused on the quality and breadth of their food. But when it comes right down to it, if I’m going to fork over my hard earned cash on a meal that I have had my expectations raised for, I’d better be impressed with just about everything.
And we were.
The room itself is loud, particularly so in the front-of-house, where the bar and host station is. And Jenni and I could barely hear ourselves talking over the noise. But our table, in the back of the room in front of the open kitchen, was surprisingly quiet enough to have a conversation. A louder than normal conversation, but a conversation, anyway.
Our table afforded me the opportunity to watch the kitchen in action, and it was nice to see a high-quality kitchen, working in such an efficient manner: six people in the main part of it, with two others working salads and desserts off to the side. Everything, and I mean every single dish, passed through either the owner/head chef or the chef de cuisine for final seasoning and plating. And there wasn’t a flavor that missed the mark.
Between us, we had the English pea soup, vidalia onion tortellini (which is already off of the seasonally adjusted menu), limousin beef ribeye, scallops a la plancha, and crispy potatoes.
The soup, served hot, was bright green in the deep white bowl, and offered a garnish of cubed ham, baby shrimp and a cheddar biscuit all carefully placed in the corner. It was as brightly flavored as its color, not the dull color and taste of a traditional split pea soup.
The tortellini was delightfully light and creamy and sweet and salty and not anything like what either of us expected. Jenni didn’t think she’d like it, but ended up eating more after she tried one.
The scallops (pictured above) were simply amazing. Seared properly while not being overcooked in the slightest. Three of them rested precisely on top of what actually could have been the star of the dish: two pillowy oxtail ravioli. Across the top were some split and roasted baby leeks, a couple of mushrooms, and an asparagus spear, all served with a wonderfully rich red wine reduction. But those ravioli–really focusing on the wonderful richness and sweetness of the oxtail–were light, not fatty, and an otherwise unthinkable counterpoint to the scallops. I don’t know if I’d get anything else when I go back.
The only disappointment, if it really was disappointing, was the ribeye, which was basically just another steak. It wasn’t distinguished from anything else you could get in town from any other high-end steak house. Which meant it was very good, but just could not rise to the level of the scallops.
We ended the evening with the honey and cream cake which is almost a mockery of its name: the honey was not overbearing, and the condensed milk poured over the top at the table just helped moisten an already moist cake. It was lightly sweet, and almost delicate tasting.
I’m hesitant to call any restaurant “amazing” or “wonderful,” but Spoon and Stable really was. It’s not the kind of place I’ll ever bring my kids. But that’s fine, because that means more of everything for just Jenni and I.