r.Norman’s: The SteakHouse

By Lavender April 24, 2008

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As I left the amusing folly of Seventh and Hennepin in Minneapolis, walking through the glass revolving doors of r.Norman’s: The Steakhouse (and its Seven Sushi Ultralounge), I immediately was struck by nostalgic thoughts of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Joey Bishop. As I was shown to my table, I smiled at the black-and-white photos of the Rat Pack on the wall across from where I was seated. My nostalgia radar had hit a bull’s-eye.

Roquefort Steak Tips, Firecracker Shrimp, Wine Cooler, Dining Area. Photos by Mike Hnida

Besides being overcome by a desire to live in the past, I quickly was brought to the present by the stature of this incredible steak house. Long lines from floor to ceiling and drapery in shades of cream spoke to the sophisticated elegance of the days when the steak-house crowd ruled.

Getting my lunch under way with ultimate hospitality, owner Randy Norman (Capitol Grill and Bella Notte) was the perfect host, and shared his love for food with me.

Immediately, set before me to try were plates of Firecracker Shrimp, grilled with Seven’s spice butter sauce ($13); Roquefort Steak Tips, blackened tenderloin with a Roquefort cream sauce ($12); and Blackened Jumbo Sea Scallops, served with papaya cilantro butter sauce and barbecue corn relish ($23). OK, I’ll admit it: My partner, Chad, who had the day off, joined me, along with Lavender photographer Mike Hnida. So, I shared.

The Firecracker Shrimp was absolutely amazing. The fiery red color cried excessive heat, but Norman assured me looks are deceptive. (I’m not a fan of heat.) The shrimp was cooked perfectly, and the taste was superb, with only a hint of heat moments after consuming. How clever of Norman and his chef!

The Roquefort Steak Tips upon first chew almost brought me to tears. It literally melted in my mouth—no chewing required. I now know how the crooners of the ’50s found their muse, bringing generations of listeners to loud sighs.

Of course, to wash lunch down, I ordered a martini—called r.Norman’s—named after the chairman of this board, made with Kettel One Citroen mixed with blood orange juice infused with simple syrup. Blood orange juice is one of the greatest liquids on this planet. It was a beautiful presentation and a beautiful libation.

Between plates arriving at our table, Norman answered many of my questions. His establishment opened on New Year’s Eve. The most anticipated rooftop experience in the Twin Cities will have fire pits and cabañas, and security will allow for patrons to roam freely without worry.

Norman let me wander the large spaces and several floors. The mezzanine accommodates overflow and private dining in a beautiful setting, overlooking the lower level dining room and visually stunning lighted bar.

On the second floor, Seven, a sushi bar, is another fantastically designed space of art for dining on fine sushi, enjoying a cocktail while catching up with friends, or being seen where the “elite meet.”

Back at my table, Sean, our server, delivered several more plates. First up was a surf-’n’-turf dish: r.Norman’s Filet, topped with colossal lump crabmeat, and finished with honey bourbon sauce ($43). Do you remember The Kids in the Hall’s “Spy Models”? My first response was to exclaim, “It is too cry!” The Maryland lump crabmeat was so luscious. Norman spoke of his love for Southern cuisine, and also creating amazing sauces such as the honey bourbon. This is hands-down the best “surf-’n’-turf” I have had the pleasure to enjoy.

I asked Norman what his favorite item on his menu was. He brought it to our table: a 20-ounce bone-in rib eye classic Delmonico known for its rich marbling ($42). I requested more honey bourbon sauce, although no sauce might be needed, as r.Norman’s naturally ages its USDA Certified Angus Beef 28 days for maximum tenderness and flavor, seasoning to enhance the flavor, and broiling at 1,700 degrees for perfect doneness.

Norman and staff adorned our meat and seafood plates with two dishes that were enough for four people: Truffle Macaroni and Cheese ($9), cheesy with a hint of truffles from the heat of baking; and Mashed Sweet Potatoes ($8), topped with brown sugar, and exuding Norman’s Southern love for food…ahh!

Another server tried to temp us with dessert: Bananas Foster, the 1950s classic created at Brennan’s in New Orleans, here featuring Sebastian Joe’s vanilla bean ice cream topped with flambéed rums and liqueur with bananas. If only we could have. But we declined, patting our tummies, and smiling politely.

Before leaving our table, Norman thoughtfully concluded, “In this economy, we appreciate every dollar our customers spend here. We’re going to make sure we give them the best.”

In my opinion, r.Norman’s has reached this goal.

John Michael Lerma is a local chef, author, and Food Network personality. His company Garden County Cooking offers cookbooks, cooking classes, consulting, private events, and culinary vacations to Italy and the Caribbean. Visit www.GardenCounty.info. Check out his “Word of Mouth” Blog under Extras at www.LavenderMagazine.com.

r.Norman’s: The Steakhouse
700 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 238-7770
www.rnormans.com

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