Last month, the Beacon Public House—the restaurant in the new Commons Hotel near the U of M—opened with much publicity about its focus on regional cooking and local ingredients. But all is not well in the land of the locavores, according to Stephanie March at Mpls.St.Paul.Magazine. March went for dinner the other night and found a supposedly local asparagus (grown in Minnesota in December?) on the menu that it turned out was not Minnesota-grown at all, and things spiraled from there, with some of the highlighted farm-pedigreed ingredients actually coming from farms in Illinois, North Carolina, and Idaho.
March eventually got a multi-part explanation from Nick Fielding, the corporate director of restaurants at Noble House, the luxury hotel chain that owns The Commons. Some inaccuracies slipped through the cracks as the menu evolved before the restaurant opening. Other inaccuracies stayed on the menu because any changes to menu copy have to go through the restaurant's corporate headquarters in Seattle, slowing the revisions down. Lastly, Fielding said it has been harder than the restaurant expected to link up with local producers.
None of those many reasons make the menu accurate, per se, but at least now we know that no Minnesota farmers have developed a super-strain of asparagus that can stand up to freezing temps and our oncoming weekend of snow. That would be awesome, though.