Spoonriver is the kind of restaurant you would expect to find next to the Guthrie Theater: tranquil and understated classy decor; servers who compliment you on the tastefulness of your dinner selection; and an early-bird clientele with tickets to the theater production next door (if there's a show at the Guthrie and you'd like a seating before 7:30, be sure to make a reservation). The menu features contemporary American cuisine with a focus on local and sustainable ingredients, like free-range chicken, pasture-raised lamb, bison, and wild rice.
My MN Harvest Plate reminded me of the USDA's plate nutrition graphic: neat, colorful portions of vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins. The highlights were the silky smooth butternut squash puree and the wild rice vegetable croquette, a fried patty of wild rice and quinoa. The croquette reminded me of baked stuffing, with a crisp exterior, chewy interior, and the warming taste of sage. Unfortunately, the other components of the plate were merely adequate: basic broccoli and cauliflower that were seasoned with salt and pepper; maple ginger red beans that were missing the flavors of maple and ginger (I actually had to look back at the menu to figure out what the seasoning was supposed to be); and a cloyingly sweet cranberry-apple-currant compote.
Mike's Greek salad was sufficient but somewhat bland; none of the flavors stood out, from the pepperoncini and feta to the dressing.
The steak skewers were tender and juicy, with a fresh and enticing basil sauce, but the two meager skewers seemed out of line with the $8.50 price point (Mike, after seeing the size of his steak skewers: "We are definitely getting dessert").
Dessert was by far the highlight of our meal. Mike ordered an exquisitely fluffy espresso chocolate mousse, with a perfect balance of dark chocolate and coffee, topped with whipped cream and tiny chocolate spheres.
My dessert tasted like the tropics dipped in chocolate: a flourless chocolate torte with a coconut filling and ganache topping, served with a creamy scoop of coconut ice cream and bright passion fruit sauce. However, like the steak skewers, the desserts were on the pricey side, at $8.50 and $10.00.
Dinner at Spoonriver was satisfying, with first-rate attentive service and well-prepared food. However, our meal didn't have enough of a "wow" factor to justify the high price. If you're looking for a convenient, classy place to eat dinner before taking in a play at the Guthrie, Spoonriver is your best bet. Otherwise, the Twin Cities has a plethora of sustainability-focused restaurants with lovely food at more reasonable prices (my favorite is The Good Earth).
750 South 2nd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401