I was delighted and surprised by our recent visit to Stewart and Heidi Woodman’s Birdhouse on Hennepin, for their Tuesday night cheap date special. The food was delightful — especially for the price, $30 per couple, which includes a shared first course, two entrees, and a half-liter carafe of wine.
The date night menu changes every week, and doesn’t actually get finalized until sometime late Tuesday morning. (If you want to find out what it is this Tuesday, check their Twitter feed at @birdhousempls before you go.)
When we visited a couple of weeks ago, the first course choice was either a vegetarian cauliflower carrot salad with curry and walnuts, or marinated anchovy with radicchio and white bean; we opted for the cauliflower salad, which was a lively and refreshing medley of flavor and texture. For our main courses, Carol gave high marks to the vegetarian croquettes with hummus, cucumbers and olives, while I enjoyed a hearty plate of pasta topped with a lamb bolognese.
All the wines served at Birdhouse are listed as keg wines, which seems to be a hot new trend in the restaurant business (a Seattle website published an article in July called Inside the Keg Wine Craze). The idea may not have a lot of snob appeal, but it actually makes it easier for restaurants to serve a fresh glass of wine by the glass (or carafe). The selection is limited – a Pinot gris, and Albarino and a Pinot noir; we chose the Trenza tinto, which proved to be a very drinkable California blend of tempranillo, syrah and grenache.
The only disappointment of the evening was the dessert, which we ordered a la carte — a mixed berry crisp topped with Sonny’s vanilla ice cream – we couldn’t actually find any berries in it, and at $9, it seemed rather over-priced.
The surprise of the evening was that we arrived shortly before 8 p.m., and for most of the evening, we had the whole downstairs dining room to ourselves. (There may have been more customers at the bar upstairs.) Given the quality and value of Birdhouse’s date night special, I don’t expect it will remain a secret for long.
By the way, the Birdhouse offers a whole weekly calendar of specials, with assorted deals and discounts — in addition to date night on Tuesdays, they offer Service Industry night and a dart league on Wednesday, lamb burger appreciation night on Thursdays ($7 instead of $11); a late night happy hour on Saturday nights; and NFL football on Sunday and Monday nights (which is also Kids Eat Free night and Neighborhood Appreciation night.) Check the calendar for details.
P.S. Check back tomorrow for another mini-review. I have a whole backlog of deals and discoveries that I haven’t had time to write up — so I’m planning to dish them up daily until I run out. (We’ll see how long that lasts.)