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From Minneapolis:

La Fougasse - Restaurant Review

French-Mediterranean Fusion

Seared tuna at La Fougasse in Minneapolis
Seared tuna

Whenever we dine at La Fougasse at Sofitel Minneapolis, we always find ourselves thinking that it doesn’t feel like an ordinary hotel restaurant. Maybe it’s the extended family we saw last time — gathered at a round table in front of the fireplace singing happy birthday to a beaming patriarch. No matter what the occasion, the place has an inviting vibe — definitely not the dreary atmosphere that often pervades hotel dining rooms that cater to out-of-towners.

There’s no doubt the décor helps conjure a festive mood. Colorful mosaics wrap around huge pillars near the open kitchen; bright blues, rich reds and sunflower yellows accent the room — from menu covers to comfy banquettes following the curve of the wall. Add a couple see-through fireplaces, toss in a twinkle of lighthearted whimsy (check out the lamps) and voilà: The scene is set. Best of all, the French-Mediterranean fusion menu matches the mood — artsy, flavorful, serious when it needs to be and fun when it doesn’t.

Salmon tower at La Fougasse in Minneapolis
Salmon tower

Whether you’re here for lunch or dinner (the menu and prices are identical), the meal commences with warm pretzel-like bread — the "fougasse," a Provençal flatbread, sturdy and dense. For appetizers, twosomes should try one of the "Tasting Trees" — a lazy Susan-type affair with three cold and three hot little platefuls of noshes per tree. The popular Mediterranean version is our fave — cold fresh shrimp tabbouleh, curried salmon and tuna tartare stuffed in pastry, warm Italian sausage slices tangled among roasted peppers.


The dining room of La Fougasse in Minneapolis
Dining room


Plenty of salads provide clean breaks before your entrée. Good: crisp calamari atop citrus-spiked greens. Best: sliced carpaccio-thin sea scallops layered with baby beets. For a main course, a salad we highly recommend is the crab mixture baked within flaky filo dough, a squiggle of saffron aïoli adding a nice accent. Entrées range from lovely pan-seared shrimp and asparagus risotto to savory rich osso buco to fragrant bouillabaisse.
Pastries are made in-house, so you’d be doing yourself a très terrible disservice not to order dessert. Sample chocolate mousse encased in dainty triangles of sponge cake or warm blueberry clafoutis served with homemade basil ice cream. Service is gracious and knowledgeable; and the ever-evolving wine list is well thought out.

P111405
(Updated: 12/22/11 CT)
RESTAURANT AWARDS 2014

Check out the 2014 edition of GAYOT's Annual Restaurant Issue, which features the Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S., Rising Chefs and more.