Chef’s lib

Submitted photo

Bardo, huh?

The opening of the new restaurant in Northeast sent us food writers scrambling to Wikipedia. The take-away I’ll choose is that the Buddhist term stands for an opportunity for liberation.

If that’s what chef/proprietor Remy Pettus was after, I’m here to applaud his new freedom.

During his term as chef at Eastside, that dining room’s menu was downright boring. Bardo’s is the polar opposite — the kind of list where an avid foodie yearns to just snap her ngers and beckon, “Bring it on.”

Seated in the courtyard of the former Rachel’s on the last balmy day of September, we reveled not only in the innovative combos ordered but the opportunity to summon half-portions of every entrée on the list (most $10–$15/$21–$28). Two would constitute a generous dinner. Nevertheless, I defy you to become all-Brit and curb your enthusiasm.

Skipping the Cold choices (salad to salumi), we scanned the Seafood subset: shrimp, scallop and our choice, Skuna Bay salmon, served medium-rare and spanking-fresh upon a pond of dessert-quality celery root purée and attended by piquant, see-through circlets of watermelon radish, sweet cippolini onions and the classics: lemon, capers, dill. Fine.

But Pettus’ imagination stretches further in the Pasture and Game section, where even a potentially mundane beefsteak receives benefit of his creative process, gaining eggplant purée, burnt orange, pickled turnip and chimichurri. Instead, we opted for the game hen torchon — deliriously juicy slices of white meat accompanied (thank goodness) by its wicked-crispy skin, along with buxom chanterelles, tiny-tiny carrots and a silky-sweet carrot puree with hints of golden raisin jus, tempting me to make up an excuse to lick my plate.

Then, even more appealing, duck — a combo of ruddy leaves of breast meat and confit leg, assisted not by the old-school orange sauce but by chunks of sweet, ripe peaches topping chewy grains of farro and bristles of frisee, all moistened by a gentle peach gastrique.

No longer ravenous but still curious, we scanned the Pasta/Grains list and settled on the gnocchi. These petite potato dumplings proved on the sturdy side of the texture spectrum, well-matched by chewy hunks of shiitake mushrooms, explosions of sweet, smoked tomato, rich flakes of preserved egg yolk and savory leaves of Grana Padano cheese. Lovely. (Next time: agnolotti with sweet corn, bacon, beets, chèvre and lemon: See what I mean?)

To manage dessert would have required medical assistance. The tempting list ($9) segues from panna cotta with lavender and pear to ricotta with lavash and figs in red wine, candied chilis and herbs; from the kitchen’s remake of s’mores to malawah: crèpe, caramelized banana, maple bacon and sage.

Speaking of sage: Wise move, Chef Remy. Liberation’s tasting mighty good.


222 E. Hennepin Ave.