3.03.2015

Heyday, Minneapolis (Uptown), MN

There's a lot to like about this relatively new place in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood... and a few things I believe they need to improve on. Join me on a small molecular gastronomy tour, will you?

First off, the space is great. Heyday has decked it out really well, allowing diners to feel like they are out for a special night, while still making it feel comfortable and inviting... not overly fancy for anyone, or making you feel like you under-dressed.

I believe they do try to explain the restaurant's name through a few of the pieces hanging on the wall
The Replacements seem to come up often in this space... #3 above
Fun art on the walls
An open-for-all-to-see kitchen too
Excellent lighting

To be clear, this is not a normal meat-and-potatoes place. Chef Jim Christiansen's food is very unique, inventive, creative, etc. The James Beard nomination should indicate something, right? I'm sure others have written this better than I can, but I try. To be sure, I didn't eat anything that wasn't prepared with care and attention. That's not to say I loved everything I put in my mouth, but I liked most everything. I would say the things I didn't like weren't due to being prepared incorrectly or without care and attention, but simply because I wasn't used to the taste or texture.

That being said, there were some unique items on almost every dish, that added quite a bit of fun to the dishes and evening. This is a place to try new things, share with others and enjoy the night out. Time goes fast in here, but some things took too long.

Mussels... hidden under some crazy concoctions
Steelhead Trout - very good
Rabbit - also excellent
I tried most of the dishes that our 7-person group ordered, so I was able to taste the rabbit, trout, beef bavette, squab, and duck. All were some of the nicest proteins/mains I have tried in some time. They clearly have this part of the evening dialed.

A dessert choice made with the most hay and hay ash I've ever encountered... not that I've ever encountered hay or hay ash in food before. That is a hay ash cracker on top... not too much flavor, but great texture and striking to see on top of your dessert
All is not perfect though, and the dessert above was comp'ed due to some of the issues below. I don't have a problem pointing these things out to the staff and gave my feedback on a number of occasions. IMO, Heyday does have at least a couple things to work on:

Service
We had a reservation for 7 people at 6:45pm. I was in contact with them to make this reservation and they even confirmed this time the afternoon of the dinner. When we arrived we were told something to the effect of, "they are setting your table now, you should be seated shortly". Well, about 45 minutes later, and two checks with the host area, we were still drinking a slow drink at the bar, many in the group standing to do so. As an appeasement, they gave us a free round of shots. It's a nice gesture, but I'm not sure an empty stomach and aggravated psyche goes very well with more liquor. I drank two of the small, flavorful shots anyways, meh.

Once seated, first courses came out rather quickly, along with some excellent rustic bread and rolls (a nice way to soak up all the liquor). But, once the first course was cleared, I think it took another hour to get our main dishes. This is way too long. We wound up being done with dinner around 9pm. That's a long time for two courses when we had a 6:45pm reservation. And as I said above, to their credit after I pointed out this long evening to our waiter, they offered us all free dessert choices. Of course, we took them up on this... and this course didn't take too long to arrive.

To end this section on a positive note, it was readily apparent to all of us that our bartender was on point (or "pint"?). She was an excellent first host and made us feel special, just by listening to our requests and pouring us some great drinks. Much like the bar area, our server was also at-the-ready all night long (and it was long). He helped us throughout the evening and was also empathetic enough at the end to advocate for our comp'ed desserts.

Menu Descriptions
With  such a large group and such detailed menu options, we could have had the waiter at our table explaining every dish all night, but they clearly don't have that kind of time. With that being the case, I would have liked much more description of each dish printed on the menu so I can read an understand what I'm ordering. As it is currently on the menu, they have a few short descriptive words, but do not delve into the full ingredient list or how it's prepared.

This is all it said for the Trout:
Roasted Steelhead Trout   | 16
brown butter, horseradish, new potato
And this was it for the wacky dessert I chose...
Fifty Shades of Hay | 9
ice cream, meringue, frozen grapefruit

All the dished are so much more though. With such unique and inventive dishes, I want to know all the nuances as I take my first bite... not flag down the wait staff afterwards and ask them to explain.

Having said all that, I would absolutely try Heyday again. I might wait a bit, until I'm in the mood for such a new-experience dinner again, but I'd go back for sure... maybe their weekend brunch.


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