Tin Fish is open for the season, and on sunny days, the long lines are back at the Lake Calhoun Pavilion. These guys have the formula figured out: start with very fresh ingredients, and then prepare them as simply as possible. Prices seem to have gone up a bit since last year – as have seafood prices everywhere – but they are still quite reasonable: you can get a Mini Tin sandwich (two pieces of cod on a toasted bun) for $2.75 and a big grilled shrimp taco for $4.95. The fried tin fish combo (four pieces of cod, three shrimp, two scallops and six pieces of calamari) with fries and slaw has gone up to $15.95 this year, but it is big enough to share. The little bits of fried squid were nothing to write home about, but the cod was perfect – moist and fresh – and the scallops had the succulent sweetness of the very best. And the view of the lake is priceless.
Barbette, 1600 W. Lake St., Minneapolis hosted a benefit Belgian beer dinner for KBEM Jazz 88, on May 20.
Belgian beers happen to be a passion of mine. Back in the early 80s, when I had fantasies of opening my own micro-brewery, a friend and I spent a week driving around the country in a Citroen deux chevaux trying every local brew we could find. Last time I checked, there were around 300 different brands, many of them tiny farmhouse operations, and nearly every brewery had its own distinctively shaped glass.
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Belgium is kind of a Galapagos island of brewing, where all kinds of weird brewing styles survive that had gone virtually extinct elsewhere on the planet. Many of those brewing styles have been rediscovered in the last few years – beers brewed with fruit and herbs and spices, and wild yeasts.
I haven’t seen the list of beers that will be poured yet, but chef Sarah Masters’ menu sounds promising. She’s using domestic Belgian-style microbeers for cooking, in each course, including a starter of 1Chevagne goat cheese with pumpernickel toast points and Rejewvenator- marinated fig, followed by pastry-wrapped garlic sausage with braised cabbage, duo of mustards and side of greens tossed with a Biere de Miel vinaigrette; Flat Earth Pale Ale-marinated eye of round roast with creamy polenta and spinach, and a Chocolate tart with raspberry-Brother Thelonious reduction as a grand finale.