The Churn: In Season to Close for Good and More

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

This week’s heat is sidelining some food trucks. All the scuttlebutt (particularly vis-a-vis beer prices) from the Duluth brew scene. Don Saunders (pictured) will be closing In Season (not changing its name and concept, as previously announced). One Two Three Sushi is open in Dinkytown. Apparently Kong’s on East Lake has been closed for quite some time now. (Some aspects of) how Izzy’s makes that Mini Donut Crunch ice cream for the Fair. A short video documentary on Adam Turman’s new poster design for Peace Coffee’s Breakaway Blend. Your best bets for tots (kids, not potatoes) at the State Fair. The folks behind Borough are opening Coup D’etat across from the Lagoon Cinema in Uptown. WACSO illustrates Leystra’s Venture restaurant in Sauk City, WI. And a glowing review of last week’s North Coast Nosh at the Soap Factory.

The Tap: In Season to Reboot and More

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Readers: Win Tickets to the May 11 North Coast Nosh

The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding two tickets to our May 11 North Coast Nosh at the American Swedish Institute to the best tipster of March and April. The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at editor@heavytable.com.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

In Season (closing this summer, re-opening as new concept with a new name)
5416 Penn Ave South | 612.926.0105

As fans of the impeccably edited cooking of Don Saunders, we were initially horrified to hear that his flagship restaurant, In Season, would be closing early this summer. But it’s not an ending for the much-saluted South Minneapolis restaurant; it’s an autumnal rebirth.

“In a nutshell, I’m closing In Season for the summer and we’re going re-open [this fall] with a very chef-driven, weekly changing, tasting-menu only concept,” says Saunders. “We’ll only be open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. I’ll be cooking there, and the idea is that it’ll be an approachable tasting menu.”

Four-course meals at the new Saunders concept will cost diners between $40-50 he says, with optional upgrades. We’ll have details on the new name and decor when they’re available.

North 45° (opening late April)
1313 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

The newly re-opening Millennium Hotel Minneapolis will bring with it a new restaurant called North 45° which promisingly offers local brews and “a creative market-driven menu that includes locally sourced selections from Axdahl Farms, Cady Creek Cheese, Saint Agnes Bakery, Russet Potato Farms and more.”

The new spot also promises in a press release to “introduce molecular gastronomy to Minneapolis as part of its all-new catering menu,” a claim guaranteed to delight chefs at Travail, Victory 44, Heidi’s, and elsewhere.

The release goes on to explain that “molecular gastronomy is an artistic culinary technique that combines food and science to satisfy the pallet and wow the eye.” According to Wikipedia, a pallet is “a flat transport structure that supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift.”

Truce Juice (opening 2013)
1428 W 32nd St., Minneapolis,

If you’ve cruised around Hennepin Avenue south of Lake Street recently, you’ve probably notice a new spot at the corner of 32nd St. called Truce Juice — the concept is billed as “the first pressed juice bar in Minneapolis,” featuring hydraulically-pressed juice made “…daily, which distinguishes it from other juices and makes it one of the most nutritious beverages available.”

Ideal Diner (closed)
1314 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis

A reader tip that suggested that the “on vacation” Ideal Diner in Northeast was, in fact, out of business. An Apr. 6 Facebook post confirms that the business has shut its doors for good.

NOW OPEN

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
  • Morrissey’s Irish Pub, 913 W Lake St, Minneapolis | 612.465.8555
  • Hello Pizza, 3904 Sunnyside Rd, Edina | 952.303.4514
  • Franklin Restaurant, 137 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. Formerly Azima.
  • Rincon 38, 3801 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.824.4052
  • Sushi Fix, 862 E Lake St, Wayzata | 612.532.0305

CLOSED / CLOSING:

  • Little Sushi on the Prairie, 8353 Crystal View Rd., Eden Prairie
  • Ideal Diner, 1314 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis
  • Kat’s Kitchen, St. Paul skyway
  • Primebar, 3001 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis
  • Cupcake Caramel by Sweets Bakeshop, 4747 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis; 2042 Marshall Ave, St. Paul.
  • Glory Days Bar & Grill, 500 5th Ave NW, New Brighton
  • Kinsen Noodles and Bar, 1300 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis
  • Fischerville Coffee House, 2150 Dodd Rd, Mendota Heights
  • Dean’s Tavern, 1986 Rice St, Maplewood
  • Midway Rendezvous Coffee, 518 Snelling Ave N, St. Paul

COMING UP:

Minneapolis

  • North 45°, 1313 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis | 612.332.6000. Opens late April.
  • Ling & Louie’s Kitchen, 9th St. and Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
  • The Tangiers, North Loop. 116 1st Ave N, Minneapolis | 612.599.2651. Opens May 2013.
  • Zeke’s Unchained Animal, 3508 E Lake St, Minneapolis | 612.720.9878
  • The Nicollet Diner, 1428 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens this spring.
  • Terzo, 2221 W 50th St, Minneapolis. New wine bar from Broders; opens this spring.
  • Tiny Diner, 1014 E 38th St, Minneapolis | 612.822.6302
  • Marin, 901 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens summer 2013.
  • Unnamed Gastrotruck restaurant, 2400 University Ave NE, Minneapolis. Opens in 2013.
  • Rocky and Shem’s Ice Cream Shoppe, 56th and Chicago, Minneapolis. Opens in 2013.
  • Sandcastle, Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis. Doug Flicker’s concessionaire restaurant at the lake. Opens spring 2013.
  • Town Hall Tap, 5019 34th Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Loose-Wiles Freehouse, 701 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis. Opens September.
  • Kitty’s Corner Cafe, 806 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis

St. Paul

Greater Twin Cities Area

  • Tin Bins, near the corner of Main and Nelson Streets, Commander Grain Elevator, Stillwater. May 2013.
  • Sakana Sushi and Hibachi, Plymouth. June.
  • Travail, Pig Ate My Pizza, and The Rookery, Robbinsdale. Fall 2013.
  • Forever Yogurt, The Shops at West End, I-394 & 100. Opens before summer of 2013.
  • Egg and Pie Diner, 222 N Chestnut St, Chaska | 612.227.6999
  • Tavern 4 & 5, 16396 Wagner Way, Eden Prairie. Opens in late April.
  • Hammerheart Brewing, 7785 Lake Dr, Lino Lakes. Opens in 2013. | 651.964.2160
  • Sawatdee, 13300 Technology Dr, Eden Prairie. Opens in 2013.
  • Osaka Seafood and Steakhouse, Woodbury Lakes, Woodbury. Opens in 2013.
  • Punch Pizza, City Centre Dr, Woodbury. Opens June 2013.
  • Black Sea, 1581 E County Road E, White Bear Lake
  • Crooked Pint Ale House, Apple Valley

The Tap is the Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled and published biweekly by the Heavy Table. If you have tips for The Tap, please email James Norton at editor@heavytable.com.

New Year’s Eve Specials 2012-2013

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

New Year’s Eve is meant to be big, and here in Minneapolis and St. Paul, there are options galore for a delicious evening.

Hell’s Kitchen, for instance, is featuring a duo of steak and lobster tail with linguine, and Brit’s Pub is handing out bubbly toasts. La Chaya Bistro is spinning classic proteins like filet mignon with spicy Latin elements, and Saffron‘s tasting menu ($65; $75 with foie gras, $25 extra for wine pairing) will showcase trout, short ribs, and foie gras. Dinner at Sontes in Rochester draws inspiration from 1960s dining, and The Sample Room in Minneapolis will serve an ultra affordable ($45) six-course meal with a deconstructed dessert sampler. In Season is offering a stunning prie fixe menu ($80; +$35 for wine pairing or +$65 for premiere wine pairing) with a saddle of lamb from Shepherd’s Song, and The Kenwood makes the night special with beef tenderloin, Abalone Mushrooms, and pastry-baked Bent River Camembert. Gandhi Mahal is offering a buffet and champagne celebration from 5-10pm ($25 for adults, $10 for children) followed by live music, cash bar, and kids’ activities from 10pm-1am ($10 door charge). The already talked-about, still-to-open Borough is doing a five-course dinner ($50 / $75 with wine pairing with optional oyster, foie gras, and cheese supplements for additional charges).

Below are five other dinners that particularly struck our fancy. But whether or not you indulge on December 31, Tilia is serving brunch for the bleary-eyed starting at 9am on the first day of 2013. Cheers!

Citizen Cafe
The menu: This South Minneapolis cafe is going old school. Expect champagne cocktails and five courses of classic, supper club standbys. Each course includes a few options, so you can style the evening to your particular retro wishes. Think Oysters Rockefeller, shrimp scampi, and a crisp wedge of iceberg with blue cheese for starters. Filet Mignon and Coq Au Vin are just a few of the strapping entrees. Baked Alaska, Bananas Foster, and other goodies finish the whole thing off with a saccharine flourish.
Libations: No specific drink pairings, beer and wine available
Reservations: Encouraged
Price: A la carte, entrees $20-$25

Citizen Cafe, 2403 E 38th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406; 612.729.1122

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Lynn on Bryant
The menu: One of Minneapolis’ newest neighborhood spots is going big and debuting two unique (one vegetarian), three-course five-course [corrected 12/21/12] dinners on New Year’s Eve. The Blue Cheese and Pear Souffle (present on both menus) sounds especially festive. Crispy lobster tails and short ribs fill out the non-vegetarian menu, while an imaginative vegetable and tofu Napoleon and bitty pumpkins filled with chestnut custard make the vegetarian side sound swoon-worthy. Rich riffs on celebratory dishes in a gorgeous space.
Libations: Optional wine pairing and a complimentary champagne toast.
Reservations: Encouraged, for both dining room and cafe
Price: $80 / $115 with wine pairing

The Lynn on Bryant, 5003 Bryant Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55419; 612.767.7797

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Heartland
The menu: Probably the most Minnesotan evening you’ll find. Chef Lenny Russo’s (above) four-course meal has three variations, and each one celebrates a different local habitat. Enjoy goose and snapping turtle soup from the Forest and Prairie, or smoked trout, crayfish risotto, and black bass from our Rivers and Lakes. And finally, a vegetarian feast from Farms and Fields includes a kale torte and pumpkin-filled buckwheat crepes. A unique dessert accompanies each option.
Libations: No specific drink pairings, but beer and wine are available.
Reservations: Required, must be secured by credit card
Price: $75 / a la carte at the bar

Heartland, 289 E 5th St, St Paul, MN 55101; 651.699.3536

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Wise Acre Eatery
The menu: Things get a little southern and cozy over at Wise Acre Eatery in Tangletown. Their seven-course meal features lots of corn and a kaleidoscope of comforting beans and meats. Dinner starts with corn and crab bisque or a beautiful-sounding Painted Pony Bean Chowder. Choose from duck and grits, pork and beans with garlicky greens, roasted squash and pilaf, or bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin with purple potato cakes. Minnesota’s own Buffalo Creek sheep’s milk cheese — which we can attest, is delightful — makes an appearance at the end.
Libations: Optional wine pairing
Reservations: Required
Price: $80 / $120 with wine pairing

Wise Acre Eatery, 5401 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419; 612.354.2577

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table


The Bachelor Farmer

The menu: If you like levels (uh, literally) of activity in your New Year’s night, The Bachelor Farmer’s got them. While Chef Paul Berglund’s seven-course dinner is already booked up, the Farmer’s got a few other special things going on. The second floor of the restaurant (in lieu of Marvel Bar) will be open for pre-dinner social hour. Sip a few fireside drinks and snack on complimentary hors d’oeuvres as the Jeremy Walker Trio does its smooth thing in the background. Marvel Bar will open later at 9pm, flush with champagne, New Year’s punch, and tunes by DJ Jonathan Ackerman.
Libations: Champagne, punch, and standard drink menu
Reservations: Not necessary for the second floor and Marvel Bar
Price: A la carte

The Bachelor Farmer, 50 2nd Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401, 612.206.3920

The Churn: Street Food, Lutefisk, and More

Drinks at Psycho Suzi's
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

LaClare Farms breaks ground on a new dairy plant and cheese aging facility. An interview with Don Saunders of The Kenwood and In Season. I try lutefisk so that you don’t have to (you’re welcome). City Page profiles Midtown Global Market pegged to Sabbai Cuisine and Fresco’s Pasta Bar. Seasonal thoughts on pickled herring, featuring Ingebretsen’s. Common Roots is hiring a chef/kitchen manager, among other positions. Our own Becca Dilley writes about street food for Minnesota Meetings and Events magazine (featuring Foxy Falafel, Saucy Burt’s, and Vellee Deli.) And serious volcano drinks (take note, Psycho Suzi’s, pictured above) and wacky atmosphere give Hunan Garden a real edge in the Chinese restaurant party zone scene.

The Kenwood, Pizzeria Lola, Ike’s Minnetonka, Copper Pot Indian Grill, and more

Readers: Win Heavy Table pint glasses

The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding a Heavy Table pint glass to the best tipster each month. The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor Jason Walker at jason@heavytable.com.

July’s winner: Mike Haight of Minneapolis

The Kenwood (opens Sept. 6)

2115 W 21st St, Minneapolis

How does all-day service from Don Saunders sound?

That’s the plan at The Kenwood, set to open next week right off Lake of the Isles in the former Kenwood Cafe space. Saunders, owner of the critically acclaimed In Season (winner of Best New Establishment in our 2010 Silver Whisk Awards), is creating most everything himself, with only coffee (Dogwood) and pastries (Patisserie 46) outsourced. The days will look like this:

  • Breakfast from 8-10am with the aforementioned coffee and pastries as well as seasonal fruit, yogurt, and granola from Saunders’ kitchen.
  • Everyday brunch from 10am-2pm with poached eggs, pancakes, huevos rancheros, and biscuits and gravy as well as more traditional lunch dishes like seared tuna salad, burgers, and sandwiches.
  • Snack menu from 2-5pm with quick bites like crostini, marinated olives, a hummus platter, a small charcuterie plate, and “duck offal cigars” of duck confit meat and duck livers in brick pastry. Yes, please.

All that before dinner, which starting at 5pm will meld some of Saunders’ more elegant, inspired dishes a la In Season with a few more casual options.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

“Our concept was determined by both what I know how to do and what the neighborhood was looking for,” Saunders said. “We saw a big demand for everything: coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner. And wine and beer has been something the neighbors have wanted.”

Saunders (above) said he had always liked the idea of week-long brunch, so The Kenwood was giving him a fun opportunity to step back from dinner mode and deliver things like rock-solid coffee service.

“It was really cool keeping it familiar enough to not scare people away but still have fun with the menu,” he said. “The cooking style is not going to change from what I’ve always done, which is European influenced and dabbles in all sorts of regionality and seasonality of dishes.

“I want people to feel like it’s the type of restaurant where you can entertain a client or friend and do a crazy-fancy menu that’s sit-down formal and classy, but those same people can stop down last-minute on a Tuesday night and have a burger.”

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Hello Pizza (coming soon)

3904 Sunnyside Rd, Edina

Still packing them in nearly two years after opening, Pizzeria Lola appears to be expanding into the former Franklin Street Bakery space next to the Convention Grill off France Ave. Given the surrounding upscale neighborhood and relative lack of nearby restaurants not slinging burgers and malts, it sounds like a slam dunk for owner Ann Kim and her raved-about wood-fired pizzas. UPDATE 08.28.12: The restaurant will be Hello Pizza, with New York style slices and 16-inch pies. Read our update here.

Ike’s (opens this summer)

17805 Hwy 7, Minnetonka

Stalled for a while now, the new Minnetonka location of Ike’s is gaining steam. The Minnetonka Planning Commission recently OK’d plans for an expanded patio at Ike’s, and the City Council was likely to approve the request at its meeting last night. From reading the commission’s report it appears an oddly shaped lot required some variances from the city, causing the slog.

The location, dormant for some time, most recently was occupied by Prima.

Copper Pot Indian Grill (now open)

10 S 5th St, Minneapolis | 612.331.6677

Just opened last week in the Lumber Exchange building, Copper Pot Indian Grill has a huge menu and daily buffet as well as a full bar. Judging by the sleek interior, Copper Pot hopes to attract more than just weekday lunchers, and the prices (entrees $15-$28) would suggest they’re hoping for an upscale dinner crowd despite its location at one of downtown’s sketchiest intersections. Regardless, there’s not much for Indian food in that general vicinity, so nearby workers will likely be pleased as punch.

NOW OPEN

  • Copper Pot Indian Grill, 10 S 5th St, Minneapolis | 612.331.6677
  • Glory :Days, 500 5thAve NW, New Brighton. Revamped sports bar from :D-Spot owner. | 651.633.2226
  • Foxy Falafel, 791 Raymond Ave, St. Paul | 651.243.0813
  • Five Guys, 2300 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | 612.224.9161
  • Indeed Brewing, 711 15th Ave NE, Minneapolis | 612.643.1226
  • People’s Organic, IDS Center Crystal Court (80 S 8th St), Minneapolis | 612.208.0021

Smack Shack’s New Home and Morning Roundup

Smack Shack is moving from street food to bricks and mortar, the Butcher & the Boar mural (and our soft opening preview), Chef Stephanie Izard on Wisconsin cheese,  an opportunity to cook with Silver Whisk winner Don Saunders of In Season and support Renewing the Countryside, a review of Leine’s Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, a new Wisconsin master cheesemaker is named (and the first master of juustoleipa graduates the program), Steven Brown reflects on year one of Tilia (our Best New Establishment for 2011), a rave for Dong Yang (here’s our story on it featuring lovely illustrations), and the Ju(i)cy Lucy gets some NYT love via Vincent Kartheiser of Mad Men.

2011’s Food in Review and Morning Roundup

Rick looks back at his favorite meals of the year (featuring: In Season, Masu, Sopranos) and Mecca does the same (Heidi’s, Marvel Bar, Tilia), Minneapolis Public Schools hires Taher vet Bertrand Weber for the position of director of nutrition services, Al McCarty really dislikes the Stout of Morning Destruction from Staple Mills Brewing Company, apparently we have a local cocktail and it’s called the Bootleg, some USA Today praise for Meritage as an oyster destination (this former Bostonian agrees), a look ahead to Wisconsin beer in 2012, and if your fridge contains any Grumpy Goat Shreds cheese, toss it. Also: We just heard about this 2006 article about Olive Garden coming to Sioux City, but we think it has stood the test of time.

True Thai vs. Trader Joe’s and Morning Roundup

Anna of True Thai rips into Trader Joe’s “fake True Thai,” Stephanie March reports on a new food truck (The Cave Cafe) offering Afro-Italiano food, Dara writes about creative sausages, a new sea lamprey repellent may help curb one of the Great Lakes’ most destructive pests, and a lovely pictorial from In Season (and here’s our review of In Season).

A Local Food Guide for Chefs and Morning Roundup

The Minnesota Project has put out a new guide [here as a PDF] for chefs who want to buy local food, The Washington Post shouts out some local eateries and the Minnesota-born holiday of Febgiving, eating at Teresa’s Mexican Restaurant in Lakeville is “like eating at an Americanized Chinese buffet” writes Bill Roehl, Zimmern brings some context to the closing of 20.21, Rachel digs the “first-rate” food at In Season (we did, too), Well Fed Guide to Life celebrates episode 150 at Bar La Grassa, and a detailed look at how Sisters’ Camelot fights hunger with its free food buses.

The Twisted Fork, The Crooked Pint, and the Morning Roundup

A fire hits Ansari’s in Eagan, Whitey’s closes in East Grand Forks, the Twisted Fork (pt. II) and Crooked Pint (by Town Hall) may pop up in the former 501 Club space, Wisconsin beer author Lucy Saunders is Kickstarting a second edition of Grilling With Beer, Rick Nelson really likes In Season (arguably as much as we did), and the Blue Plate group is expanding into the former Hollywood Video spot in Uptown (2112 Hennepin Ave. S.).

2010 Silver Whisk Award Nominees: Best New Restaurant

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Silver Whisk Awards celebrate the best of local food in the Upper Midwest; only three are given out, for Best Chef, Best Purveyor, and Best New Restaurant.

Narrowing down our best restaurant picks to three was no easy task — the local scene has been booming, and there’s no shortage of talent. In the end, we settled for three very different restaurants: a bakery with perfectionist leanings, a marriage of classical skills and seasonal produce, and an asskicking new-wave Midwestern hangout.

Lars Swanson / Heavy Table

Patisserie 46

It’s hard to know what distinguishes truly great baked goods until you’ve tried to make them at home. Take a serious stab at genuine eclairs, real croissants, or serious scratch baguettes, and you’ll get a whole new respect for the real deal, and for dedicated operators like Rustica Bakery, Patrick’s, and — now — the newly opened Patisserie 46.

The brainchild of Chicago baker John Kraus (who was drawn to Minneapolis, at least in part, by the school system), Patisserie 46 puts out a dizzying array of baked goods daily ranging from delicate eclairs to truly flaky and rich croissants to boules of bread that can stand up with the world’s best. Interspersed among the regular treats are exotic little gems — eggy, beautifully caramelized canales, spice-kissed and orange-inflected gibassiers, and a variety of chocolate treats that stand amongst the best in the region.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The secret of Patisserie 46 is an old one — just take a page from Europe’s books, and put your effort into the dough. Pastry isn’t about massive amounts of sugar, it’s about restraint, it’s about balance, it’s about sublime textures and natural flavors that soar when paired with coffee or savored by themselves.

This, of course, takes tremendous skill. The talent of Kraus and his team is evident in every one of the dozens of pastries and bread products they put on the racks each day, and the neighborhood’s respect for that talent is evident in the lines and full tables that make Patisserie 46 cheerfully crowded on most days of the week.

Patisserie 46 is more than just a neighborhood anchor and a guaranteed joyful start to any given morning — it’s a bar-raiser, a spirited challenge to anyone else who would start a bakery.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

In Season

It seemed likely that Chef Don Saunders was going to return to the local food scene in a blaze of glory; his former restaurant, Fugaise, had rabid fans who would passionately testify to the chef’s talent, and he’d have his pick of angle when he popped back up. It didn’t seem, however, likely that he’d return at the helm of a restaurant that is arguably faultless right out of the gate.

But, yet — that’s what happened. Everything at In Season seems to be clicking. The decor’s tasteful; the music’s good; the servers know what they’re talking about; and the overall concept of an explicitly seasonally inspired menu (inspirational ingredients are bolded to help diners connect the dots) is clear but not overly cute.

In Season in Armatage, Minneapolis

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Editor’s Note: In Season is now closed, but sister restaurant The Kenwood remains open.

If you’re looking for a model for how to do Upper Midwestern fine dining, look no further than In Season in South Minneapolis. Rising from the metaphorical ashes of the French-inspired Fugaise, Chef Don Saunders has taken his gift for deft execution of beautifully pared-down dishes in a new, soulful direction; the result is some of the best and most exciting dining in the state.

In Season sounds like a bit of a gimmick until you experience it. The front of your menu lists a bunch of ingredients that serve as inspiration (right now, they include baby turnips, chioggia beets, kale, oxtail, and sweet potato, among others) — the back features the actual food for the ordering. Prices are fair-to-cheap (particularly considering the quality of food served) — small plates hover around $10, larger dishes around $20. The menu is flexible enough that you can take a passed-plate tapas style approach to dining, or an appetizer + entree + dessert approach, or some hybrid of both.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Saunders is in tune with local food but not a slave to it; oysters, Rio Star grapefruit and Clementines are among his current winter inspirations, and the presence of seasonally appropriate tourists brings a sparkle of excitement to the mix. Dishes such as roasted monkfish with five-spice sweet potato gnocchi and roasted garlic ($24) may not be sourced next door, but the pairing of a mellow, tender ocean fish and hearty, deeply flavored winter staples like sweet potato and roasted garlic is a good one.

Similarly, In Season’s cheese plate ($14) is a masterwork of international diplomacy. Three-time American Cheese Society “Best of Show” winner Pleasant Ridge Reserve (from southern Wisconsin) shines even on a plate with French selles sur cher and Spanish manchego; tangy Castle Rock Bleu from Wisconsin rounds out the plate and holds its own just fine.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The best dish we sampled at In Season may have also been one of the most unusual. Our waiter informed us that the salmon for the blinis appetizer was still in the process of being cured, but, as a completely non-similar substitute, we could order a portion of their elk goulash. It arrived with velvet-tender pieces of elk wrapped in sensuous blankets of creamy paprika flavor, floating above finely mashed potatoes at the base of stew’s urn-like white bowl. A perfectly seasoned and executed dish, it had plenty of well-balanced flavor (from both meat and spice) with no unpleasant texture or gameyness, and you couldn’t do better for an entree on a subzero night.