Have you been out to the Walker Art Center lately? If you haven’t, you really should! You especially need to try 20.21, the Wolfgang Puck restaurant located on the 2nd floor (however you do not need to buy admission to the Walker to eat at 20.21). I recently had lunch there, on a mission to try out the new Asian-influenced menu put together by Executive Chef Asher Miller. I tried a variety of selections from the menu, which I will be highlighting here. Everything was outstanding!
Cuisine: Asian Fusion
Hours: Wed-Sun 11:30a-2:00p
Starters or “First Flavors” run from $7-12 and include
- Creamy Cauliflowers Soup with Toasted Almonds and Lobster
- Tandoori Arctic Char with Cardamom Raita and Bengali Tomato Chutney
- Stir-fried Chicken Lettuce Cups,
- Curried Pork Spring Rolls and Pork Pot Stickers with Black Vinegar Dipping Sauce
- Steamed Shrimp and Scallop Dumplings in a lobster sauce (pictured below in 1st photo). These seafood dumplings were the very first thing that I tried; they consisted of a steamed dumpling filled with a shrimp and scallop mixture, along with a variety of herbs. Each of the three dumplings was garnished with a sliver of red chili pepper and then topped with a pea tendrils, thinly cut strips of radish, and carrot. The dumplings were plated atop a thin layer of lobster sauce. Very good!
- Pan Toasted Pork Pot Stickers (pictured below in 2nd photo). If you like sausage, you will love these pork pot stickers! The savory sausage and herb mixture was stuffed inside the Chinese-style dumplings, which were then toasted in the pan until they were a crispy golden brown. They were served with a Chinese black vinegar, which was both sweet and rich (similar to balsamic). I love pot stickers and these were top-notch.
There are also a number of Salads ($13-16) including:
- Gulf Shrimp Cobb Salad with Applewood Smoked Bacon and Lemongrass Shallot Dressing,
- Chinese Chicken Salad with Hot & Sweet Mustard Dressing, Crispy Wontons and Candied Cashews,
- Korean Beef Short Ribs with Pea Tendril Salad and Sesame Dressing,
- Japanese Glazed Salmon Salad with Avocado, Pickled Vegetables, and Ponzu sauce (pictured below in 1st photo). If you like salmon, you can’t go wrong with this salad! The fish was cooked but still very tender, placed atop a bed of mixed field greens. Thin strips of colorful carrots, radish and Japanese seafood salad decorate the edge of the plate on one side, with slices of avocado and lemon on the other. A light, but filling salad.
- Thai Chicken Salad with Puffed Rice, Lime, and Crushed Peanut (pictured below in 2nd photo). This was a really cool and unique salad, unlike any other I have had. The chicken (all white meat) was ground into small pieces and combined with small rice puffs that were about the same size and color as the chicken. Thinly sliced strips of carrot, red cabbage, jalapeños, lettuce and toasted peanuts were mixed in with the chicken and rice puffs, then the salad was tossed with a citrus-chili vinaigrette. I loved the combination of textures in this salad, it was both tender from the chicken and slightly crunchy from the rice puffs, peanuts and veggies. It had a nice kick to it from the jalapeños and the citrus-chili vinaigrette, but was also light and fresh. Delicious!
Burger and Sandwich ($14-22) Options:
- American Beef Burger (with Aged Cheddar and French Fries)
- Maine Lobster Club (with a Bacon Vinaigarette served on Toasted Pecan-Cranberry bread
- Chicken Salad Croissant (served with Sweet Potato Fries)
- “Banh Mi” Pork Sandwich (pictured below). The Banh Mi is a Vietnamese-influenced sandwich that starts with a French roll and then a layer of pork-based country-style pâté, with stacked thinly sliced pieces of pork tenderloin, then topped with pickled onion, cilantro and carrot. There was also a semi-sweet creamy sauce. I had never had a Banh Mi sandwich before but thought it was a very interesting combination of flavors. It was served with golden fried fingerling potatoes.
20.21 also offers three different Bento Boxes, all of which are served with Tempura Asparagus and Miso Soup ($12-15):
- The Duck Confit with Chow Fun Rice Noodles and Stir Fried Vegetables
- Golden Curried Tofu with Peppers, Coconut Rice.
- Korean Style Beef Short Ribs and Hunan Glazed Eggplant (pictured below). The beef was tender and spicy, with a peppery dipping sauce suggestively placed in the same section of the Bento Box. The eggplant was cooked until soft and had a sweetness to it from the Hunan glaze. The asparagus was fried with a tempura batter and came with the most fabulous spicy green cilantro dipping sauce. Loved that! The miso soup was also very good.
Main Dish ($14-20) offerings include:
- Steamed “Hong Kong Style” Atlantic Salmon (with Bok Choy, Szechuan Chili Oil and Jasmine Rice)
- Drunken Chow Fun (with Rich Noodles, Basil and Peanuts)
- Green Thai Seafood Curry (Prawns and Sea Scallops)
- Pan Roasted Chicken (Snap Peas, Carrot-Ginger Puree, and Caramel Soy Sauce)
- “Signapore Style” Street Noodles with Masala Braised Short Ribs. This may have been my favorite dish of the many I tried. I loved the texture of the homemade noodles which were thick and hearty, stir-fried with a spicy cooking oil of some kind. The beef was so tender and full of flavor from being braised with a curry masala sauce. Along with beef and noodles there were stir-fried veggies including spring peas, onions, mushrooms, and asparagus. This dish was very filling and the portion size was quite big.
The dessert menu ($5-10) is brought to you by Pastry Chef Corinne Sherbert and includes:
- Assorted Miniature Cookies (Yuzu Bar, 5 Spice Cheesecake Brownie, Orange Pound Cake)
- Ice Creams & Sorbets (Spicy Almond, Olive Oil, Lemongrass, Orange all with assorted sauces)
- Spoon, Cube and Cherry (pictured below). This dessert is so much fun! Inspired by the famous sculpture Spoonbridge and Cherry in the Walker’s Sculpture Garden, this cube of dark chocolate contains a hidden treasure inside. Chocolate cream and bite- sized pieces of German chocolate cake are what await inside the dark chocolate walls. The spoon is made of a light chocolate cookie crisp. I recommend this be shared!
20.21 also offers a variety of specialty cocktails including this Hemmingway Martini, made with Ketel One vodka, grapefruit juice and fresh lime. Very light and refreshing!
Overall Impression: We had excellent service at 20.21 but the food is what called out to me. Executive Chef Asher Miller has wisely created a menu with a very nice selection of Asian-inspired items, with something to please nearly everyone. The prices are also very reasonable for an upscale fine-dining establishment.