Table Talk
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From lobster to scallops to a double-patty cheeseburger, here’s a rundown of my dining diary from the past seven days. What were your top eats of the week? Share the details in the comments section.

Dutch baby at In Bloom

“It’s kind of a cross between a pancake and popover,” said our server. When the combination involves two of my very favorite things, how was I not going to order it? At brunch, chef Thomas Boemer skillfully utilizes the intense heat of his kitchen’s showy, wood-burning hearth – and sturdy cast iron pans -- to fashion these gorgeous, puffed-up pancakes ($12 and $13). I love how the edges become thin and crisped, yet the rest of the golden pancakes remain tender and oh-so eggy. Turns out, they’re an ideal vehicle for a wide range of brunch-friendly add-ons (kudos on that thick, tender slab of ham), and the black salt flourish is a swell touch. Truly, this is a seriously impressive way to brunch. 928 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-237-9630

Lobster toast at Martina

Forget about yoga. In my mind, the only reasonable response to last Saturday’s miserable weather was brunch. Specifically, brunch at Martina, where chef/owner Daniel del Prado knows exactly how to flip foul moods: by spooning succulent poached lobster over grilled bread ($25), laying on cool tarragon and celery leaf accents (del Prado has a way with using herbs to brighten his cooking) and ending with a cheery fried egg and a rich, buttery sauce. The portions are easily shareable, but be advised: it’s difficult to be generous when the dish is this delicious. He’s also serving one of the Twin Cities’ great side dishes: steamed potatoes that are piped into a churros-like homage ($9) to the crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside juxtaposition found in the very best French fries. 4312 Upton Av. S., Mpls., 612-922-9913

Lobster roll at Restoration Hardware

The Twin Cities’ most dramatic new dining environment spreads itself out across the roof of a chain furniture store. In Chicago, New York, West Palm Beach and now, Edina, Restoration Hardware has been incorporating grand dining spaces into the company’s similarly grand retail showrooms. At 69th and France – that’s the southwest corner of Southdale’s vast parking lot, beneath a thermometer-shaped water tower – RH has built a lavish, glass-covered pavilion that recalls the era of great Victorian greenhouses (hello, Como Park) a made-for-people-watching environment that boasts a splashing fountain and enough boxwood to trick out the garden of “Downton Abbey” Dowager House. Come winter, these sun-soaked tables will provide the ultimate in Seasonal Affective Disorder therapy. Post-sunset, illumination comes via crystal chandeliers. Many, many crystal chandeliers, piled on in the way that a sports bar decks itself out in oversize flat-screen TVs. As for the food, it’s glossy editions of straight-up country club fare, with prices to match. My favorite was a $30 lobster roll (what can I say, it was a lobster kind of week), one that wisely chose the straight-and-narrow path, just a pleasantly uncomplicated lobster salad (tickled with hints of Old Bay seasoning and plenty of chives), liberally spooned over a split, butter-drenched slab of grilled brioche. A plate with three jumbo, buttery chocolate chip cookies – each packed with tons of bitter dark chocolate that played nicely against a sea salt garnish – proved to be a fine $10 dessert. The service? Splendid. 6801 France Av. S., Edina, 952-206-6307

Brooklyn Masterwork Burger at the Brooklyn

After a 30-plus year absence, brothers Larry and Richard D’Amico are back at Brooklyn Park’s Edinburgh USA complex, and they’ve converted the handsome golf clubhouse restaurant to the Brooklyn. The menu was devised by Larry D’Amico and longtime D’Amico Catering chef Josh Brown, and its top sellers – burgers, club sandwiches, chicken wings and a walleye sandwich – don’t exactly reside in Italy, the D’Amicos' usual culinary geography. But that’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity, right? “This is a golf club,” said Larry D’Amico. “Josh and I cook to make people happy. Making people happy, that makes us happy.” That burger ($11 for a single patty, $14 for a double) certainly slapped a smile on my face, in part because several innovative, flavor-boosting components contribute to its appeal. Beefsteak tomatoes, sliced to a half-inch thickness, are roasted in olive oil, chile flakes, and oregano, a smart solution when cottony, flavorless, out-of-season tomatoes are the norm. Chopped romaine lettuce is liberally tossed in a sauce fashioned from ketchup, mayonnaise, cornichons, shallots and a sweet-hot blast of Uncle Pete’s Mustard. The beef, a rich chuck-brisket blend, hails from top-tier Revier Cattle Co. in Olivia, Minn. It’s formed into thin, quarter-pound patties and grilled with a watchful eye, achieving that delectable balance of crispy charred exterior and pink, velvety interior. The kitchen really lays on the salty, gooey American cheese (“Because it’s the best cheese on a burger,” said Brown), and the toasted potato bun, gleaming from an egg wash finish, has a just-right soft texture that still manages to stand up to everything the kitchen throws at it. Even the pickles are spot-on, with their pleasing crunch and bracing vinegar bite. This bruiser is best approached with a knife and fork, and it definitely belongs in the upper echelons of the Twin Cities burger pantheon. 8700 Edinbrook Crossing, Brooklyn Park, 763-315-8525

Sea scallops at Snack Bar

Isaac Becker and Nancy St. Pierre quietly opened their fourth collaboration this week, an evening-only small plates/pizza spot that’s located in the same North Loop building as their Bar La Grassa. I sampled maybe a half-dozen Italian-inspired dishes, and while many impressed, it was a pair of scallops that stamped themselves in my memory. “I’ve been serving scallops for my whole career,” said Becker. “They’re a real crowd-pleaser, but what interests me is that you can do a lot of different things with them, really switch it up.” That’s exactly what he’s done here. Recently, Becker has been digging into vintage cookbooks, and was taken by a dish in an Alan Davidson title. After some playing around, he landed on what he’s now serving at Snack Bar. The base is a chutney-like compote that’s built on slow-cooked onions mixed with cinnamon, harissa, dried rose petals, golden raisins, pine nuts and honey. Scallops are seasoned with salt and cumin, seared on one side in a hot pan until the surface is caramelized, then finished in the oven. Right before serving, Becker adds a bit of butter (for fat) and a splash of lemon juice (for acid), and while the honey/raisin combo might sound a tad sweet, the sugary levels are just right. It’s another don’t-miss Becker dish, one where the familiar becomes novel. At $15, it’s also reasonably priced. As for Snack Bar, “I love this place,” said Becker. “It’s the perfect size. I can see everything from the kitchen. It’s way easier to control than say, Burch, which is as big as a food hall. It’s fun because it’s so hands-on, and it’s great because it’s next door to La Grassa, which means it’s super-convenient if we need an onion.” 800 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-383-2848