The first FDCDC in a long time got off to rough start. As a foil to the very tipsy trip I made to Rose’s Luxury, I was very very hungover for the meal at Bresca; For that I have the squirt bottles at Dan’s Cafe to thank. But this whole weekend was a celebration of my sister Claire’s 28th birthday, and she had demanded a legit Fancy Dinner Club experience. Plus my youngest sister Brenna was in town, and her response to seeing Bresca’s menu was something along the lines of “lol what”, so I wanted to see some good reactions from her, too. So I rallied to join my sisters, my girlfriend, and several of Claire’s other close friends and persevered.
The first thing you’ll notice about Bresca is that it’s cool. Like really cool. Too cool? No. Just cool enough. Hipster prints of animals in top hats. Exposed duct work. Fish wall. Drink menu confusingly oriented in a honeycomb shape (‘bresca’ is Italian for honeycomb!). There was plenty to look at if you happen to be suffering from a splitting headache and severe nausea enhanced by the intense air freshener in your Lyft driver’s car (sorry, Lyft driver, your rating took a hit for making me want to puke).
As we admired the decor, our server came out and brought our welcome cocktail. That sounded truly terrible. But, wanting to experience all Bresca had to offer, I gave it a sip. Plus, my dad raised me better than to reject anything free. And what a sip it was! Rum, lemon, lime, pineapple, tea. Just what the doctor ordered.
Next came the for real drinks. I honestly can’t remember what most of the drinks were like, except that mine and many others had lemon peels clothes pinned to the rim. The real showstopper was Bresca’s version of the Bee’s Knees. I’ll be(e?) honest – the drink was not for me. It was bee’s wax gin, honey, and black truffle. Too fancy for me. Kate enjoyed it, which is good because she ordered it. But forget the drink. It came served in a giant metal bee! With a straw as the stinger that you drink out of! What a delight. Very on brand, Bresca.
When it came time to order our food, our whole table of eight was abuzz (ok done). Given we had a big group versus a relatively small menu, we decided to order most of what was on it, including the two big shareable plates. When asked if we had ordered an appropriate amount of food, we got a simple thumbs up from our server. At this point our server had communicated 75% in smiles and thumbs ups. This may have been because Bresca has terrible acoustics (my only real knock against the place) and was the most effective way to communicate, but I was charmed by it none the less, especially given FDC’s history of “improving” its own photos with thumbs ups (see above).
Our first course started with a variety of cold dishes. We had some burrata which, due to it being burrata, was great. The ‘salad’ of our meal, was a quinoa, carrot, and pineapple salad, which extremely was confusing but also very refreshing. I felt myself becoming slowly revived. The rye toast with beets and feta was definitely a table fave. Very rich, but lots of different textures that made it real fun to eat (especially when you pick off the dill sprigs, because dill is terrible). The final dish of round one was something I was not looking forward to but ended up liking quite a bit: the foie gras “negroni” aka We Are A Fancy Restaurant So Here Is A Confusing And Fancy Thing. I didn’t actually know what a negroni was at the time, so whatever clever thing they were going for went right over my head. But the little disk of strawberry jelly and the savory cookie that were meant to be combined with the foie gras made the whole thing less liver-tasting.
Next came a few pastas, which were super delicious. The first was a smoked paprika pasta with gouda and lamb all sorts of fun stuff. The noodles were big and chewy, and it had lots of tasty spices. The artichoke agnolotti was out of this world. “Little pillows of happiness,” as Brenna described it, which was spot on. Super rich and creamy. 10/10 would eat again. Ended up being a favorite for the evening for a lot of us (myself included). Caroline, the vegetarian of our group, just had this as her meal and was more than happy with her choice. Along with the pastas came the Icelandic char and a “ancient white park sirloin”. Pretty classic prep for white fish on the char (lemon and chives), but it was executed to perfection. The steak had a tasty mushroom sauce and a really excellent crust on it. I don’t know what the “ancient white park” part was, but it definitely didn’t do the dish any disservice. It was also generally fun to have dishes brought out to us at Bresca. The servers did such a good job describing the food that almost everything got a synchronized “ooooo” or “ahhhhh” from the whole table, as if we had totally forgotten what we just ordered.
As a side note, I never knew what a char was, so I did some research. Based on the team at Google Images, it is either a tank or a large fish. Unsure of which is the real char we ate.
But let’s zoom and enhance on the bottom left.
This may seem like a long tangent, but it actually fits in the context of the meal. Remember how there going to be “two big shareable plates”? It took us a while to realize they weren’t coming. In the din of the restaurant that part of our order got missed, so it took some time between the small plates and the big ones. But 100% worth the wait once we got that sorted out.
The first of the big guys was the dish I was most excited about – the honey laquered duck. And it came with so much stuff, too! The duck itself was maybe the weak link of the spread that was brought to the table. Just didn’t have a ton of non-meat flavor, so while it was cooked well it was a tiny bit disappointing. I ended up eating a lot of everyone else’s. The duck sausage that accompanied it, however, was dynamite. Herby and kinda sweet? I would toss a few of those duck dawgs on the grill any day. There was also this crazy duck egg/spaetzel/red cabbage mixture. It was super decadent. Very buttery. Like a German food casserole. But also not very visually appealing once it was stirred up (turns out purple and white is a bad food color combo). Finally there were these duck fat beignets that were just about the richest bread I’ve ever eaten. A lot of people didn’t finish theirs not because of the taste, but because they were super intense.
The other large plate, the 48 hour bone-in short rib, was the unanimous winner among the main courses, and many of our table’s overall favorite. Reading back over the description, I feel like a real rube for not being more excited for this one. As you’d expect for a short rib set to “Slow Roast” for 48, it was about the tenderest piece of meat I’ve ever had. The bone put up zero fight in releasing the rib meat. It was described as “binchotan grilled”, which means I really gotta get myself a binchotan. Or several? However many is needed to party. The accompaniments were some veggies and salad that I completely skipped because I was getting extremely full at this point. I should have stuck with my rule of trying everything because the caesar salad with the short rib got pretty glowing reviews from my table mates.
If we hadn’t just scarfed down such a significant array of food, I would have been all in on Bresca’s dessert spread. They all looked amazing, but we were hurtin’ a little bit. I wasn’t leaving, however, without trying their foie gras cake pop. I know what you’re thinking. “Weren’t you fully wanting to avoid foie gras earlier in the meal?” Totes true, but I had to see if they could pull this one off. The remaining ingredients: hazelnut, chocolate, amaretto, gold. GOLD! At the very least I would increase the average value of atoms in my body by eating the gold. And wow. It was just as confusing as I expected. Just take a look at my face:
Ultimately four or five of us ended up trying that cake pop, and all of us liked it. At some points. One moment I was being tricked into thinking I was eating a rich chocolate cake. At others I was hit with an iron-y flavor. Like the flavor of Biting Your Lip Too Hard So It Bleeds. I think on the whole I liked it. A great bit of showmanship to say the least.
My last favorite touch at Bresca was definitely when we were brought our bill. They had postcards for everyone with Bresca branding! I definitely bogarted half of them so I could send very elegant messages to my friends at the Minneapolis FDC chapter.
Yes, my handwriting really is that bad.
We all left Bresca with a feeling that translates to very positive restaurant experience: fat and happy (and not hungover!). I would 100% come back and see what they’ve got cooking. Also definitely recommend starting off with some of the cold dishes as that refreshing first course was a necessary buffer to the very rich main courses to follow. Lots of surprises, great flavors, and an excess of thumbs ups earns Bresca 3.8 out of 4 om noms.