The opening of the Mall-connected, 5-star JW Marriott wasn’t merely a perk for out-of-town visitors looking to spend the night in well-appointed environs. There was the additional benefit to all Mall of America guests in the form of Cedar + Stone, Urban Table, a dazzling farm-to-table restaurant concept designed by two veteran Marriott chefs that offers “refined, crafted dishes inspired by Minnesota’s natural roots & local culture.” For those of you who appreciate Portlandia-caliber information about the food you’re about to consume, the menu duly lists the names and locations of all the farms that supply ingredients to the restaurant, all located within a 200-mile radius.
The atmosphere is modern and swanky, including a jaw-slackening wall ‘o wine, yet the dress code is casual and there isn’t a hint of pretention in the friendly service.
The word “amazing” is thrown around so much these days that’s virtually lost all meaning. Having said that, believe me when I say this menu is amazing. Amazing in its variety, amazing in its creativity and amazing in its execution.
Let’s start with the Jucy Lucy. We already know this is one of the modern food wonders of the world, but after Cedar + Stone stuffed it with taleggio cheese and slid it into a soft potato roll, it has taken on a positively Zen-like, finger food quality.
The Crispy (potato) Fingerlings, with chickpeas, chorizo and harissa aioli is surprising in more than one way. One, it’s delicious. OK, that’s not surprising, but two, it can be a bit spicy. Or it can be extremely spicy if someone has a hand-spasm while whipping up the harissa aioli that morning, like when we visited. We were assured that this is not normal, but the spice-averse should order carefully nonetheless.
The Cedar + Stone Nicoise, a salad with harcot vert, olives, beans, hardboiled egg, potatoes, and cherry tomatoes is like a party in your mouth where only seared-to-perfection ahi tuna and a harmoniously-paired vinaigrette were invited.
The BLT Pizza, with pork belly, fontina cheese, cage-free egg and mizuna (Japanese greens), may be the closest incarnation to handheld happiness that man has yet achieved.
The roasted garlic chicken panini (smoked gouda, confit tomato aioli on ciabatta) and beef brisket panini (blue cheese, caramelized onions on a rustic baguette) are good enough to make an Italian man decline lunch at his mother’s house.
The dinner menu is almost the same as the lunch menu, with the giddying addition of a few entrees like the Scallops + Port Belly which sounds magically delicious.
The handcrafted cocktail menu has the now requisite list of elaborate, mixology drinks with ingredients you’ve never heard of, half of which are dispensed with eyedroppers, which are inevitably wonderful. But Cedar + Stone has gone a step further with their “Cocktails with a Purpose” selection, featuring healthier drinks designed with the help of a nutritionist that still, you know, taste good.
There are several enticing desserts, in all fairness, but “dark chocolate crème brûlée” are really the only words you need to know.