Dining alliance

Coalition burger
Coalition burger

Coalition is a word more commonly found in the political reportage of a newspaper than in the dining column, but it’s the (less-than-memorable) name of a restaurant that deserves to be front-of-mind.

It occupies the former Pearson’s space in the 50th & France enclave, now showcasing a comfy setting of white-licked barn board walls under a canopy of foam-sheathed pipes that oversee bar seating, generous booths and a second room where daylight reigns. Nice makeover.

The title, it turns out, honors the area’s butchers, bakers and kimchi makers who contribute to a menu that reads well and delivers even better. Plates arrive camera-ready and sized to feed a block party. (Heed my warning, or you, too, will wonder how to fit all those doggie bags into the trunk.)

Bao Buns
Bao Buns

Starters ($11–$16) mostly involve astute partnering of products rather than recipes. We ordered the burrata composition, compiled of warm ciabatta slices ready to receive frilly fronds of sweet prosciutto, airy dollops of burrata cheese, deeply sweet fig jam and a counterpunch of sharp arugula. Bravo. (Or order the smoked fish board, sweet-pea bruschetta, etc.)

A quartet of salads ($7–$13) beckons, each easily serving two ravenous or four polite diners. Ours, the height-of-summer combo of strawberries and watermelon, gained piquancy from dollops of creamy goat cheese and a shower of almonds, all united via perky mint vinaigrette.

Bloody Mary
Bloody Mary

On to the mains, ranging from a $14 burger to $37 rib eye. I rarely order chicken when dining out because it’s a staple of my home kitchen, but breaking my rule provided the bonanza of the evening: a supremely juicy bird lavished with pozole broth uniting other Mexican acolytes, including hominy, supple avocado and a shower of queso fresco cheese, plus ruddy slices of robust, well-seasoned sausage and a solo tortilla. Well done.

So was our second choice, an XXL pork steak, juicy and full-flavored, plated with wild mushrooms, slender strands of pickled onions and a cornbread-like square of fried cheddar polenta — another winner.

Deacon Eells
Deacon Eells

We’d also ordered sides of vegetables, which proved unnecessary but — never mind — addictive: mounds of charred Brussels sprouts tossed with grilled grapes and hazelnuts, all brushed with honey, elevating today’s veggie darling with those spot-on additions. Same for the tureen of crispy cauliflower buds, accented by sesame, green onion and a hit of sweet chili — another meal in itself.

Which explains why we failed to leave room for desserts. They’re made in-house, agreed our fine server, who declaimed a list of molten chocolate, bread pudding, crème brûlée and more: the usual suspects but perhaps better in this kitchen’s capable hands.

Hericotvert
Hericots vert

Expect interesting cocktails and a short list of familiar wines BTG, plus a bonus in this neighborhood: a parking lot, in which I’m tempted to reserve a permanent space. Only drawback: It’s very, very loud inside.

Coalition

3808 W. 50th St.

952-456-8979

coalitionrestaurant.com

 

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