St. Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris, the culinary capitol of Planet Earth. It’s also the name of Chef Steven (Tilia) Brown’s new lovechild, in which he pays devotion to the City of Light’s enlightened standards for bistro fare, painstakingly sourced and reverently but honestly prepared—OK, let’s call it humble, elbows-on-the-table food.
The menu stars a dozen definitely shareable small plates ($7–$11) and six richly-endowed toasts called tartines ($9–$13). And I want them all. Yes, even the crispy pig’s head.
Instead, we started with meltaway chunks of roasted acorn squash, its natural sweetness pumped up with sorghum, deepened with herbs de Provence, monitored with husky bread cubes and I-don’t-know-what with a shower of minced (!) popcorn—almost too sensuous to devour in public.
Next, Steven’s reconstructed poutine. No fries (though they’re also featured on the menu, glorified with a béarnaise aioli)—rather, elite dominoes of pureed potatoes a la Tater Tots tossed with cheese curds atop a meat-rich Sauce Espagnole (think: gravy).
Then a richer-than-Donald foie gras mousse, further enriched with buttery mille feuille pastry and heightened with a shout of sweet, yet tangy blood orange marmalade (perfect!). And savory hazelnuts and crispy prosciutto for salt (but why? A jarring touch.) Next time: bouillabaisse with shrimp; lamb tartare; leeks in truffle vinaigrette. Oh, and that pig’s head.
On to the tartines, from which we chose a pair of toasts piled with lamb braised in red wine and partnered with mushrooms and carrots—a swell accompaniment to a glass of wine from St. Gen’s explorable list. Even better: everything available by the half-glass as well, to encourage mix-and-matching. Tartines for a future visit include escargot gratineed with Gruyere. Ever had a snail sandwich? Me neither. Nor one of Brussels sprouts. But you can here!
The menu also features five large plates ($20–$25), from which we picked the pork tenderloin—perfectly timed, tender and juicy, served with a dab of cheese grits, a pleasant, bright celeriac remoulade, and onion puffs: perfectly fine, but more boring and generic than the smalls. Back to the escargot!
Desserts, praise be, are anything but banal ($8 range). Again, I want them all, but restricted myself (St. Carla) to the brown sugar date cake: a winner (and I don’t particularly favor dates)—moist, far from cloying, tempered with a spoonful of cheesecake ice cream, a drizzle of caramel laced with curry, chunks of pepita brittle and, yum, candied carrots. Next time: chilled lemon soufflé. And/or Vietnamese coffee panna cotta. We sipped half-glasses of bubbly from the list of Champagnes, which could serve as multi-tasking house wines for anything on the menu.
Steven’s take on French bistro fare is presented with one glaring discrepancy: here, the servers are Minnesota Nice, not Parisian Pompous. The room, from tin ceiling to wood floor, beckons with a soft, ivory glow. And, best of all, it’s open ’round the clock—well, almost: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. (After which, why aren’t you home in bed, anyway? Just saying.)
5003 Bryant Ave. S.
(walk-ins encouraged; no phone reservations taken)