I can’t even tell you how much walleye I’ve eaten lately. My gut-stretching bender of fillets, fritters, strips, sliders, and cakes has been research for an upcoming Mpls.St.Paul Magazine feature. I began as a walleye nostalgist, eager to rekindle taste memories of a saltine-crusted fish and my dad’s stories of the way things were. Now that I’m more of a realist, I’ve gotta say: The quest for the best has turned up some downright appalling concoctions.
There has been questionable use of Parmesan, teriyaki, and flavor-killing onion on walleye all over town. But the strangest dish—by far—is the St. Paul Grill’s walleye dusted with almond flour and a pecan Frangelico butter sauce. As my companions and I contemplated the absurdity of the plate before us, which tasted like a mix of lake fish and praline ice cream (a boffo seller, our server reported), we got to thinking about other unpalatable combinations that somehow persist under a veil of deliciousness. I mean, what’s with lobster or truffle mac and cheese anyway? They’re all great ingredients, but they don’t complement one another. (Maybe it’s just a way to charge $11 for mac and cheese?) And while I’m at it, can anyone explain the appeal of foie gras Eggs Benedict (that’s you, Cosmos)?
The classics are the classics for a reason. Chefs are experimenting with our palates in the name of seeming innovative or keeping their jobs interesting. It’s time we called them out. What are other dishes that annoy or perplex you? Let us know by posting a comment.