Acqua Restaurant and Wine Bar ~ White Bear Lake, MN

 Bar, Fine Dining, Italian, Patio Dining, Seasonal Menus, Waterfront, White Bear Lake area  Comments Off on Acqua Restaurant and Wine Bar ~ White Bear Lake, MN
Feb 202012

Cuisine: Fine Dining, Italian,
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking, Patio, Seasonal Menu, Water-Front
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 4453 Lake Avenue South, White Bear Lake, MN 55110

Hours: Tues-Sun 4-10pm
Links: Acqua Website * Acqua on Facebook * Google Map
Atmosphere: Acqua is located on on Lake Avenue, overlooking White Bear Lake, just a block east of Hwy 61.  Making its home in a structure that was originally a house, Acqua is a small and intimate dining destination.  The lighting is dim and there is only room for a handful of tables on the lower level, but each is adorned with white tablecloths and stemware.  One of the best physical features of Acqua is the patio overlooking the lake, open during the warmer seasons.

Menu: The menu at Acqua changes seasonally.  Small Plates currently offered include Calamari, Bruschetta, Pettine e Foie Gras, Polpette (veal and pork meatball), Mitili (mussels), and Carpaccio (beef tenderloin with black truffle horseradish panna cotta).  There is also a selection of Artisan Cheeses.

Soups at Acqua include Lobster Bisque and Crema di Funghi.  Also offered are salads such as Caesar, Fried Goat Cheese with Golden Beets, Field Greens, and Baby Spinach with Apple-Pear Compote.

Entrees include Black Truffle Gnocchi, Butternut Squash Ravioli, Risotto e Pollo, Rack of Lamb, Sea Scallops, Ossobuco di Porco, Ragu alla Bolgnese, Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin, Lobster Tail, Veal Chop, Crab Encrusted Certified Chilean Sea Bass, and Panko Encrusted Walleye.

Side items also offered include Brussel Sprouts, Malt Vinegar Fries, Roasted Asparagus and Black Truffle Risotto.

Acqua also has excellent, desserts such as Smoked Chocolate Souffle Cake with Marshmallow and Graham Cracker Ice Cream, Oreo Semifreddo with Peanut Butter Ganache, Butterscotch Budino with Caramel, Vanilla Crème Brulee, Almond Panna Cotta with Brandied Cherries and Dark Chocolate, and Trio of Izzy’s Ice Cream or Sorbets.

Price guide: Small Plates $9-15  Soup/Salad $8-10  Entrees $18-45 Desserts $7-8
Daily Special:

  • Daily 3 Course Tasting Menu $35
  • First Course (choice of one): Caesar Salad, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Baby Spinach, Roasted Golden Beet Salad, or Field Greens.
  • Main Course (choice of one): Braised Pork Shank, Roasted Chicken, or Panko Encrusted Walleye.
  • Dessert Course (choice of one): Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, Trio of Izzy’s Ice Cream or Sorbets, Butterscotch Budino with Caramel, Oreo Semifreddo with Peanut Butter Ganache, Almond Panna Cotta with Brandied Cherries and Dark Chocolate, Smoked Chocolate Souffle with Marshmallow and Graham Cracker Ice Cream

What we ordered: We started with a couple of cocktails; I had the Ginger Jameson, made with real ginger and fresh lime.

My companion had the Mojito, which was very good.  The drink was both sugary and tart, the rum was pleasantly noticeable, and it contained several muddled mint leaves and freshly squeezed lime juice.  While this Mojito is good at any time of the year, I can imagine how refreshing it would be in the summer out on the patio, overlooking the lake on a hot summer day.

Mojito at Acqua Restaurant ~ White Bear Lake, MN

We were brought some bread and butter, both were pretty standard but tasty all the same.  The butter was creamy and salty and the bread was thick and crusty.

We then had an order of Calamari, which was battered and fried crispy.  The calamari were cut into wide strips and were on the verge of being chewy however the flavor and texture of the breading was very good.  It was served with a lemon thyme aioli that was both creamy and citrusy; light and refreshing.  Calamari at Acqua Restaurant ~ White Bear Lake, MN

Foie Gras is one item I will not pass up, when given the chance to eat it. The version at Acqua comes seared atop a giant Massachusetts Day Boat Sea Scallop with a  walnut-blueberry chutney and Cabernet reduction.  This variety of scallop is very meaty and tender and well-matched with the melt-in-your-mouth foie gras. The piece of foie gras was slightly thin but was cooked to a beautiful brown on both sides.  The sauce added just the right amount of sweetness and the walnuts provided a nice crunchy contrast.
Scallop and Foie Gras at Acqua Restaurant ~ White Bear Lake, MN

Scallop and Foie Gras at Acqua Restaurant ~ White Bear Lake, MN

My companion ordered the Tasting Menu, which came with the choice of one of a handful starters offered. Everything sounded good but my companion opted for the Cream of Hen-of-the-Woods Mushroom Soup.  This was the best Cream of Mushroom soup that I have had the pleasure of eating.  It was buttery, creamy, and seasoned so nicely, while having the beautiful robust flavor of roasted mushrooms.  It was drizzled with something slightly sweet and was served with Fontina Cheese Crostini. Absolutely delicious!

There were so many tempting choices for entree and our server did a great job explaining each and every one of them.  It was a very tough choice but I decided on the Branzino Crab Encrusted Certified Chilean Sea Bass.  The dish was prepared with a nice meaty slice of sea bass topped with a delicious, crispy crab mixture served on a bed of roasted red potato wedges and steamed broccolini.  The rich and creamy Chili Buerre Blanc sauce pulled the entire dish together perfectly.

My companion had a choice of three different entrees for the Tasting Menu and went with the Pork Ossobucco. You would think that the entree in a tasting menu would be on the smaller side, but this was a full size pork shank.  The port demi-glace sauce was rich and hearty and the meat extremely tender.  It was served with organic white sweet potato puree that was a nice change of pace from the traditional mashed potato.Braised Pork Shank with Port Demi-Glace and Sweet Potato Puree at Acqua Restaurant ~ White Bear lake, MN

We were beyond full at this point but since my companion had a dessert coming with the Tasting Menu, we ordered the Chocolate Souffle with Marshmallow Fluff and Graham Cracker Ice Cream. Every aspect of this dish was delicious; a gourmet spin on the traditional S’More.

Service: Weekend reservations quickly fill up at Acqua, so I wasn’t surprised that I couldn’t get a table until after 9pm with a weeks notice.  Our table was waiting for us when we got there and our server quickly introduced himself and was a real gentleman all evening.  He took his time to explain the menu to us and answered any questions we had about the dishes.  He was attentive but also very respectful of our privacy.  The courses were brought out to us with time in between so that we never felt rushed.
Overall Impression: We had heard great things about Acqua and it certainly lived up to the expectation.  The dishes and cocktails were well executed and the service was impeccable.  Highly recommend the Cream of Mushroom Soup and the Foie Gras.  The Three Course Tasting menu with many options for $35 is an excellent deal.
Acqua Restaurant and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Summer Menu at CRAVE

 Seasonal Menus  Comments Off on Summer Menu at CRAVE
Jul 232011

Items on the CRAVE Summer Menu

  • Buttermilk Chicken Sliders: Grilled chicken, remoulade, butter pickles, King’s Hawaiian sweet bun
  • Caprese Flatbread: tomato, mozzarella, basil, avocado, balsamic reduction, fresh watercress
  • Shrimp & Summer Fruit Salad: Grilled shrimp, mango vinaigrette, pineapple, melon, strawberry, cashews
  • Shaved Steak Melt: Pepper, onions, smoked cheddar cheese, hoagie, root vegetable chips
  • Steamed Mussels: Mussels, ginger, miso broth, baguette
  • Grilled Pork Chop: BBQ-basted chop, black bean & corn salsa, honey lime vinaigrette
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Crostata: Rustic Italian tart, vanilla bean ice cream, red wine caramel

New items on the Sushi Menu in July:

  • Aloha Roll: Spicy tuna, fresh mango, cilantro, fresh tuna, poke sauce
  • Surf ‘N’ Turf Roll: Shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, fresh veggies, wrapped with seared marinated beef filet and shisho leaves
  • Volcano Roll: Cooked snow crab, avocado, topped with scallops and baked in a sweet, spicy dynamite sauce
  •  Sockeye Salmon will also be featured on the nigiri/sashimi menu.
  • Fresh Raw Oysters offered with a spicy chili lime sauce or cool cucumber ponzu sauce.

Refreshing Summer Cocktails :

  • Sweet Heat: Bacardi Dragon Berry, mango, jalapeno, St. Germain, white cranberry
  • Prickly Pear Margarita: Sauza Gold, fresh lime, prickly pear puree
  • Sake Sangria: Yuki No Bosha, pineapple juice, peach puree, fresh lemon, lime
  • Lime in the Coconut: Hangar One Kaffir Lime, coconut milk, fresh lime
  • Shakin’ Bakon: Bakon Vodka, orange juice, Frangelico, maple syrup, egg white
  • CRAVE is also featuring locally brewed Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison and is the only on-premise restaurant carrying Brooklyn Brewery IPA
Nov 012010

I was happy to see that one of my favorite restaurants, Norman Quacks, now has a Fall Seasonal Menu featuring

Old Duck Hunters Pot Pie– A flaky crust stuffed with veggies and roasted beef, served with mashed acorn squash.

Chicken Quack Schnitzel– Lightly breaded chicken breast smothered with onions, mushrooms and melted swiss.  Served over potato with side of squash.

Twice Grilled Apple Chop– 2 Pork chops served with applesauce, squash and choice of potato

Quack’s Loosey Goosey Burger- Angus patties stuffed with hot spicy cheese, served with sweet potato fries

Whole Lotta Bratta Ciabatta– Brats smothered in beer and grilled then smothered in onions, peppers, relish and cheese.  Served with sauerkraut and sweet potato fries

Quack Carrot Cake– 4 layers

Sweet Pumpkin Cheesecake– A delicious cross between pumpkin pie and cheesecake.  I tried it and thought it was pretty awesome, just wish the piece were a little bigger ;)

Even though this next photo is not an item on the Seasonal Menu, you CAN get it for just half price during Happy Hour!  Only $3.50 for all this Boneless Buffalo-y Goodness?? Steal of a Deal!