When a restaurant goes above and beyond the call of duty both in service and in quality of food and beverage, it deserves to be celebrated. Today I celebrate Bradstreet Crafthouse at the Graves 601 Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, across from the Target Center. Seriously, this place blew me away.
My coworkers, Becky and Liz, and I decided that rather than exchange unnecessary Christmas gifts this year, we'd go out together for dinner and drinks. After lots of discussion, we settled on Bradstreet Crafthouse because of its intriguing cocktail menu and because none of us had been there before. The place is sophisticated and sleek, modern but not cold, with lighting that could make Ed Gein look vaguely attractive. There are three main dining areas, with large comfortable tables in the bar area, kitchen seating where you can watch the chefs prepare the food, and a lounge area that is dark and cozy with music you can listen to without shouting for conversation. We chose the lounge and settled into our low table with comfortable banquette seating and table tops especially designed to complement the cocktails. Yes, the cocktails.
Bradstreet Crafthouse is all about the mixology. That's fancy talk for slinging drinks. But the drinks slung here are at a whole other level than most people are accustomed to. Bradstreet makes eight of their own bitters, fresh squeezes their juices, and includes crazy things like elderflower liqueur and Zwack in their drinks. I don't even know what Zwack is, but it makes me feel pretty cool to be around it. When we asked a few simple questions about our cocktail choices, decisions that were tough to make due to the number of delicious-sounding concoctions, our server Jesse presented us with three brown apothecary bottles filled with bitters. He invited us to stretch out our hands and he proceeded to add a couple of drops to our palms, then instructed us to rub our hands together and smell them. The difference in scent between the three bitters was amazing, I never knew that bitters had such depth. One smelled earthy and gingery while another presented a Christmas-y spiciness. Who knew? I just thought there was one kind of bitters. Jesse taught me that my least favorite alcohol of all time, Campari, is a form of bitters. He also told us about the "ice program" at Bradstreet, the fact that they offer five different forms of ice in their drinks, including a perfect ice sphere about the size of a tennis ball that takes four minutes to create each one. I'm telling you, the entire evening was one fascinating lesson after another, presented in a fun and informative way.
The whole experience started with a liquid amuse bouche, a small cocktail that the mixologists create each day that are presented to each diner. Ours was called Merry Christmas Kermit (for the green color) and though I don't know what was in it, I could easily have downed several. After that I enjoyed two different full cocktails, the Lima Sour and the Moscow Mule. The first is a potent mixture of Pisco (Peruvian brandy), fresh lemon juice, egg white, pineapple and bitters. I drank many of these in Peru a few years back and this one really brought me back. The Moscow Mule, on the other hand, made me yearn for the tropics with its organic vodka, fresh lime juice and ginger syrup. Yum. Beyond the drinks we shared the hot, tasty, toasty house bread and a delightfully simple cheese plate. For entrees, all under $10, we shared duck confit quesadillas, beef sliders with house made ketchup, and a BLT made with crispy, melty fried pork belly, chard, tomato jam and a fried egg. Every dish was better than the last and the portions were perfectly sized to allow you to enjoy your drinks and your dinner without feeling overly full. Not large portions, but just right on, especially for the price. For larger appetites, there are plenty of options to fill you up.
All three of us have pledged to return to Bradstreet Crafthouse and to bring friends with us. I'm very excited to spread the word. Don't miss it.