accompanied by Joy Summers from City Pages. GREAT pics and pithy narration!

Apr 222011

A couple weeks back, I was able to accompany Joy Summers to a media opening of a new restaurant in Afton, Current.  Brothers Dan and Dave Jarvis had renovated an elderly establishment in their river town compound to house a modern establishment with fusion fare…and they invited us to sample their wares.

I don’t think what we did could ever be so delicately called “sampling.”  “Smorgasbord” would be a bit more appropriate.

Contrary to what many folks in the Cities might think, Afton isn’t terribly far away.  Take a scenic route and it’s even better.  I’m one of those people who goes.  I do.  I drive.  I explore.  This was a drop in the bucket for travel time, but the scenery and setting made it feel worlds apart from much of the metro area.  But, if you’re not the type to hop in your vehicle and try a new restaurant a half an hour away, feel free to make a daytrip out of it or an overnight.  There are river opportunities as well as shopping and recreational trails surrounding Afton.  It wouldn’t be a wasted venture.

Dan and Dave toured us through the new space, Current, as well as over to the Afton House Inn and the other new kid on the block, Swirl.  We poked and snooped and eventually made it back to sit and enjoy what Chef Marc Paavola had in store for us…which ended up being the entire menu.  We shared some appetizers but then each ordered our own entrees.  The choices were tough…until I spied the Monte Cristo.  It would be mine.  All mine.  (Except for the sharing I had to do with Joy.)

So, over plenty of great discussion and even better food, we enjoyed what Current has to offer…which is quite an array.

I appreciate the branding, look, and feel of the new establishment. I think it’s working to set itself apart from both its predecessor and what people might think of when they think of a Minnesota river town.

The vegetarian spring roll was a nice surprise in Afton.  It was crisp and well-executed.

Sushi plate of spring rolls, wild rice spicy crab rolls, and tuna pokes on seaweed salad.

Eichten’s Gouda, Ciabatta, Apple, Grass Fed Steak Tips. This was some of the best-executed fondue I’ve experienced–it was gooey enough to not congeal or require an external heat source, but still cheesy and flavorful.

Braised Pork Tacos served street cart style, with Salsa Verde, Poblano, Corn Tortillas, Queso Fresco.

Shrimp Crostini sauteed with Garlic, Lemon, White Wine, Basil Cream.

Sweet Potato Fries with Cinnamon Maple Sprinkle.  Lip-smacking.

Truffle Fries with Truffle Salt, Grana Padano, Fine Herb.  Perfect. Deep. Hedonistic.

Edamame made with Ginger, Chili Sambal, Ponzu Sauce, Sake, Honey.  Current offers to substitute edamame for fries in the Kid Menu meals, which I think is brilliant.  And, tasty.  It’s delectable.

Chicken, Apple, and Brie Sandwich with Spinach, Red Onion, Aioli on Ciabatta. The bite I had was excellently balanced in flavor and textures.  Nice sandwich.

Grilled Salmon and Spinach Salad with Sliced Strawberry, Red Onion, Feta, Toasted Almond, Balsamic Vinaigrette.

I believe this is the Grape and Brie Flatbread Pizza made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lavender, Stillwater Honey, Rosemary.  This is one I’d like to try the next time I dine at Current.

Turkey Burger with Shaved Apple, Lingonberry, Wild Rice Mayonnaise, Sunflower Sprouts.  The accompanying flavors were nice, but I’d suggest the guys head up to Bacio or The Craftsman to taste their turkey burger competition.

$6 Lunch!  Choose From: Hot Muffuletta, Monte Cristo,  Turkey Bruschetta, or Best Vegetarian Sandwich Ever!  This was the Turkey Bruschetta made with Mozzarella, Leaf Lettuce, Tomato Salsa, Balsamic, on Ciabatta.

Another $6 Lunch: This one is the Best Vegetarian Sandwich Ever!

This was my lunch.  It’s the Monte Cristo–battered and cooked on the griddle instead of deep-fried. Smoked Ham, Cave Aged Gruyere, Lingonberry Jam on Pullman Bread. It was a bit soft to handle, but that’s why we have napkins.  Look at the oozing cheese.  The Lingonberry Jam made my Scandinavian heart sing.  Yes, friends.  This is, indeed, food porn.

Spicy Chicken Drops smothered in Sriracha Cream, with Fried Leeks, Garden Greens, Sesame Seed.  These were a sleeper hit.  I just didn’t expect them to pack such a flavor wallop as they did.  They’re repeaters, for sure.

Finally, after sampling and smacking and sharing and swiping, we were done with lunch.  Thinking it was time to roll out of Afton, I was surprised when dessert was mentioned.

Like an athlete between heats, I figured maybe I just needed to stretch a little.  Walk it off some.  Get out into the daylight and stave off the food coma.  So, most everyone else departed while Joy and I wandered around outside with Dave and Dan.  We talked a little marketing shop, they pointed out the marina water levels and just what was already underwater, and mentioned that they’ve got three boats that offer food service on the water, too.  What interesting people.

Then, came dessert.

Chocolate Truffles.  Decadent.

Seasonal Fruit Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream, in this case it’s Blueberry.  I appreciated the cake topping as opposed to the crumble-top cobblers.  It was a heartier dessert.

A revamped Banana Split with Spumoni Ice Cream, Pineapple, Cherry, Chocolate, Wafer Cookie.

Black Russian Bundt Cake served with Hazelnut Brittle, Kaluha, Creme Anglaise.  It was still warm and so very good.  We got the story out of Chef Marc Paavola and the recipe comes from his mom’s treasure trove. (I wonder if he’s related to my Great Aunt Rosie Paavola and, if so, whether or not I can have the recipe by virtue of being related.  Hmm.)

Key Lime Tartlet served with Fresh Berries and Chantilly Cream.  Note the oven-dried strawberries.  Julia Child would approve.

Best of luck to Dave, Dan, Marc, and the rest of the crew at Current.

See you soon.

Here’s a coupon for my readers, too:  50% Off Current Coupon If you’d like to try Current for 50% off, just print it and bring it in with you when you get your own Monte Cristo.  You know you want to.

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