Oxtail lasagna? Explore your palette at Heidi’s Restaurant

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I walked into Heidi’s at 29th Street and Lyndale Avenue with a friend on a Saturday night around 9 p.m. and we were surprised and delighted by what we saw. Through a glass wall, the bustling and precise work of several very able chefs and cooks were being directed by chef and owner Stewart Woodman, husband of co-owner Heidi.

With two different glasses of French white wines–a lemony Savignon Blanc and a citrusy Bordeaux, both perfect on yet another steamy evening, we waited for our table.

Meanwhile, we glanced through the menu with a “2” emblazoned on the cover. This is Heidi’s second location due to a devastating fire that had taken the first cafe over a year ago at its original spot at 50th Street and Bryant Avenue. The “2” seems to give the cafe’s staff and management a sense of pride, like ‘we brought Heidi’s superlative cafe back in a short time and now it’s better than ever.’ And they had.

Heidi’s minimal interior design, a small bar just across from the glassed-in kitchen, and two intimate dining rooms, filled with late night guests, gave us a sense of a cafe and its patrons having a splendid and rather inexpensive evening of excellent dining.

Midwest caviar?

When one thinks of caviar, it’s usually the Russian version from the Caspian or Black Sea. But this salted paddlefish–not sturgeon, came from? You guessed it, North Dakota. Last year they produced 1,700 pounds. It came in a tiny, thin glass with potato fragments and it was exquisite.

We both eyed the lamb shank on the menu and decided to share it. It was flavorful with a delectable, juicy coating that didn’t overpower the tender meat falling off the bone. We had to toast it with our different red wines.

My friend ordered the oxtail lasagna and I ordered the California Pinot Noir. When she asked for the Monestrell, the Spanish version of France’s Mourvedre, our knowledgeable waitress actually brought both bottles and rather pointedly stated “Ya know, I suggest you switch your wines with what you’ve ordered.” She was right. Trading wines was the perfect compliment to the lamb and oxtail entrees.

There’s a cozy outside patio, but how about you wait until things cool off. Then you can really enjoy a Minnesota evening dinner under the stars just off the Midtown Greenway.

When Chef Stewart and his minions are on their game, like they were that night, Heidi’s is an inventive, tantalizing, cheerful and robust place to eat.

I had to look up the name Heidi. It means noble one. Noble means elevated, dignified. That was fitting for what we discovered during our sultry summer evening at Heidi’s.

Rich Reeder lives in CARAG.