Barbecue at Revival, St. Paul

revival-closeup-bbq-stpaul

Lucy Hawthorne / Heavy Table

Normally, when a restaurant that we have reviewed opens a second location, it would not warrant a second review. But when that restaurant is Revival (525 Selby Ave), and when they’ve added barbecue to the menu, well, we’d be derelict in our duty to eat all the good food and not tell you about it.

The St. Paul menu basically takes the Minneapolis menu — the fried chicken, the burger, all your favorite sides and starters — and adds smoked brisket, pork shoulder, and pork belly (in various forms and dishes), making the choice of what to order infinitely more difficult.

Lucy Hawthorne / Heavy Table

Lucy Hawthorne / Heavy Table

The best of the bunch was the Brisket ($19 for a plate, with a side and corn bread). Deeply infused with the aroma and flavor of natural wood smoke, it was thick cut, tender enough to make you weep, and fatty, but not too fatty. The chewy, blackened bark was spicy first and sweet second, and it concealed a pink smoke ring underneath. Revival offers two barbecue sauces, a mustard sauce and an excellent black barbecue sauce made with molasses and drippings, but this brisket asked for neither.

The Pork Shoulder ($16 for a plate) was decidedly less impressive, perhaps because we ordered it alongside the brisket. It was similarly tender, but was much milder in flavor and didn’t taste as strongly smoked. In the Brasa vs. Revival rivalry that we’re attempting to create right now, Brasa is winning in the pork department, and Revival takes the brisket trophy.

The Pork Belly ($19 for a plate) was remarkably similar to the brisket, which speaks to a consistency in Revival’s smoking process. It was thick cut, tear-jerkingly tender, and had the same gorgeous bark with the same spicy / sweet taste. It was significantly fattier than the brisket, but that’s why your cardiologist warned you to limit your pork belly intake.

Lucy Hawthorne / Heavy Table

Lucy Hawthorne / Heavy Table

The dark horse of the menu is the Hot Link Chili Cheese Dog ($13). The metro area has a major cheeseburger game and a major sausage game, but compared to cities like New York and Los Angeles, we are kind of lacking in hot dogs, even more so with the recent shuttering of Prairie Dogs Uptown storefront (they are still at US Bank Stadium and recently started working out of the kitchen at the Viking Bar). We hope Revival’s hot link will be the vanguard of a new hot dog movement that will have us all eating chili cheese dogs by the summer. The hot link itself was delicious, living up to its name with red flecks of chili and a charred, snappy casing. Topped with smoky, beefy burnt end chili, melted cheese, green onion, and a pool of cheese sauce that soaked into the soft bun, this is a whole mess of incredible flavor.

Tacked onto the end of the salads and starters section of the menu is an item that is neither salad nor starter: a meal-sized bowl ($10) of the burnt end chili from the aforementioned dog, taking a well-earned starring turn of its own. The chili is prepared Texas-style (no beans), with the chopped burnt end bits and the tomatoes almost completely broken down. This is a profoundly comforting dish, and given its extraordinary amount of the distilled essence of dried chilies, we venture that you won’t find more flavor packed into a single bowl anywhere, ever, forever. Beware: It brings a creeping spiciness that will haunt your tongue.

Lucy Hawthorne / Heavy Table

Lucy Hawthorne / Heavy Table

If you’ve steered clear of okra in the past, you owe it to yourself to try Revival’s version ($6). It’s stewed in a sauce that reminded us alternately of Italian sausage spices and Indian curry.

Revival’s prices are what you’d expect for chef-prepared, not pitmaster-prepared food. But you get what you pay for, which in this case, is oversized portions of smoked meat and sides that rival any barbecue in town. Not everything was perfect, however. On one visit, our brisket / pork combo platter came out cool to the touch. We sent it back, and when it arrived again at our table, the brisket was hot but the pork was not.

Lucy Hawthorne / Heavy Table

Lucy Hawthorne / Heavy Table

Revival St. Paul is roughly twice the size of the Minneapolis location and with the same conversion-van-styled throwback charm. The tables are close together, especially along the side of the dining room, such that you are practically sealed into your table.

Over multiple visits, we found the service to be on par with the Minneapolis location. We had one server who was a consummate professional and one who seemed more concerned with the other servers in the room than the customers. But Revival could be serving its brisket with a swift kick to the throat and we’d still drive across town to wait in line for a table.

Revival
Masterful southern food

525 Selby Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55102
651.340.2355
OWNER / CHEF-OWNER: Nick Rancone / Thomas Boemer
BAR: Full
RESERVATIONS: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Ask
ENTREE RANGE: $8-$28
NOISE LEVEL: Raucous
HOURS:
Daily 11 a.m.-midnight
PARKING: Lot, street

 



Heavy Table Hot Five: Feb. 3-9

hotfive-flames

Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

shepherd-song-banner-ad-horiz-3The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.

shepherd-song-green-keyline

Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table

Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table

1-new - oneCardamom Breve at the Bachelor Farmer Cafe
Most coffee revs you up, but the cardamom breve is engineered to soothe. It’s a balm for weary soul, no matter what you’re weary of. An artful glass of warm cream, strong espresso, a pinch of sugar and spice. And a tiny ginger cookie on the side, just because.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Tricia Cornell]

Amy Rea / Heavy Table

Amy Rea / Heavy Table

2-new - twoBacon-Basil-Risotto Bowl from The French Press
The bacon-basil-risotto bowl from Eau Claire’s The French Press is lighter than it may sound, with the risotto not dripping in cheese, but just providing a nice source of starch to cradle the lightly poached eggs. Fresh basil and parsley brighten the dish, and of course you can never go wrong with strips of crispy bacon.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

3-new - threePork Buns at Tea House
A steamed bun is often an insubstantial thing, a few fluffy bites and a fleeting memory. Not the big, honkin’ buns they serve up at the Tea House. The copious filling that packs each one of these things tastes (and almost certainly is) house made, and it’s got a bold, deep, earnest flavor. One of our favorite things about this restaurant is its ability to transform dishes that are phoned in (or decanted from frozen bags) at other places, and breathe them full of flavorful life, and these pork buns are a perfect example of that approach to food.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

Paige Latham / Heavy Table

Paige Latham / Heavy Table

4-new four Sugarbush Whiskey Barrel-Aged Barleywine at Dangerous Man Brewing
A beautiful symbiotic relationship between spirits and beer can be found at Dangerous Man Brewing right now. The Sugarbush Whiskey Barrel-Aged Barleywine is an English-style beer that has been put into barrels from the North Shore’s first aged whiskey. Its tempered sweetness and viscosity make it an ideal winter warmer.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #4 | Submitted by Paige Latham]

Josiah Norton / Heavy Table

Josiah Norton / Heavy Table

5-new -five Longevity Noodles at United Noodles
United Noodles had a press dinner this week to ring in the Lunar New Year, and the highlight was long, delicate, garlicky noodles bedecked with giant prawns and scallions, symbolizing long life. The evening was a reminder that there are a lot of ways to celebrate, a lot of dates that are sacred to somebody, and a lot of good things to eat under the sun.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #5 | Submitted by James Norton]



The Brewmaster’s Secret Garden at Insight

Nick Fay / Heavy Table

Nick Fay / Heavy Table

Insight Brewing is no stranger to barrels. The growing brewery on the east side of Minneapolis has celebrated its two anniversaries with wood-aged beer. These variations on the Gravity Well imperial stout have sold out, leaving customers wanting more. While the brewery intends to cater to that demand, it nonetheless is taking its upcoming offerings in a new direction. Under the stewardship of Ryan Mihm, who became the head brewer last April, Insight is about to launch its Brewmaster’s Secret Garden series.

Nick Fay / Heavy Table

Nick Fay / Heavy Table

Mihm’s years with Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing and Maine’s Allagash Brewing Company helped him hone the barrel-aging skills that Insight’s owner Ilan Klages-Mundt is seeking to capitalize on. Insight is able to purchase barrels directly from New Belgium because of Mihm’s connection, giving them extensive access to unique vessels.

The Brewmaster’s Secret Garden series will debut at liquor stores in about two weeks.

“These will all be wild ales,” says Mihm. Not all of the beers will be sour, he explained, but they will all be funk-forward. As we walked into the designated sour corner of the brewery at a recent press event, Mihm pointed out various barrels and batches. A few of the current batches are conditioning in a variety of barrels, but the beers are typically blended together when they become ripe for drinking.

Nick Fay / Heavy Table

Nick Fay / Heavy Table

The first beer in the series is a variation on the already released Sunken City. The base beer, a saison with sauvignon blanc grapes, offered a natural platform from which to launch the series; its farmhouse nature and fruit addition cast a shadow similar to that of wild ales. After primary fermentation, the beer is funneled into blackberry-whiskey barrels that previously held sour beer at New Belgium.

In the case of this first beer, appropriately called Funken City, no additional microorganisms were required to produce the intended result. Enough yeast and bacteria were already in residence to create an intensely funky beer that lingers on the roof of the mouth seemingly indefinitely. Though the strains are unknown, a clear presence of the wild yeast strain Brettanomyces claussenii brings a powerful mango aroma and vanilla finish. The high degree of effervescence and dryness creates a winelike profile. Bottles will retail for about $14 for 750 milliliters.



Strip Club Meat and Fish to Close in July

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

St. Paul’s iconic Strip Club Meat and Fish will be shutting its doors later this year, with a planned closure date of July 1. Chef J.D. Fratzke (above right) attributes the upcoming closure to an amicable parting of ways with owner Tim Niver (above left), and promises news on new projects soon. This post will be updated with additional details later today as the Strip Club makes them available. The Strip Club opened in 2008.

Update: Here’s the restaurant’s official press release about its upcoming closure.

February 1, 2017
Dayton’s Bluff
Saint Paul, MN

To our friends and patrons:

The Strip Club Meat and Fish has enjoyed nearly ten years of operation in Dayton’s Bluff and Saint Paul. It has been a fabulous run, however, we have decided not to renew our lease ending in July, 2017. We’re Not Done! We are announcing our closure now so that our friends and those who still haven’t joined us might be able to do so over the next 5 months. Get your unused gift cards out and join us at one of our tables until July 1, 2017.

We retain possession of The Strip Club space until the end of July. Our restaurant will still beavailable to large groups for either business or personal dinners and celebrations until the end of the month. Also, we invite our aspiring restaurateur peers an opportunity to host pop ups in this unique and special location.

Other changes are occurring along with our announcement. Our final brunch service will be held on Sunday February 12, 2017. We will be serving Mother’s Day and Easter brunches by reservation. Our new hours of operation as of February 14, 2017 will be Tuesday through Saturday evenings from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. We will be closed on Sundays and Mondays.

We are commonly associated with what we lovingly call our “sister restaurants” Saint Dinette and Mucci’s Italian. We are a family of restaurants by nature and ethos but are independently owned and operated and both continue to be healthy and happy businesses. We appreciate your ongoing support and patronage.

THANK YOU!!! We have been truly blessed to own and operate such a wonderful place in the amazing city of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Your trust and support of us will be an enduring force behind our progression as professionals and humans. We look forward to providing excellent food and service to you until our final night of service on July 1 st . Come see us.

Love,

The Strip Club Meat and Fish

From our archives:

Upfront with Tim Niver
Brunch at the Strip Club
(Louie the Loon)
Feasting on Frozen Waters and J.D. Fratzke’s Chef’s Notebook

 



Lunch and Dinner at Esker Grove at the Walker

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

Among the victims of the epidemic of “fine dining” closings is Piccolo, whose chef-owner, Doug Flicker, has shifted his expertise to the Walker Art Center. We were at the Walker’s Esker Grove for lunch and dinner recently and can report that there is much to like, but much that is lacking.

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

The setting is one of contrasts. Part contemporary cavern: dark wood everywhere, a row of long, of counterlike raised tables, and (very comfortable) black leather Eames chairs. And part pure light, at least by day: The north wall is made of glass and looks out onto the sculpture garden, now mostly snowy white, except for the iconic cherry, but the view promises to provide color and beauty once spring arrives. Additional brightness comes from a skylight. On the back wall is a monumental mural by Frank Big Bear, a collage of newspaper and magazine pages from the past 40 years.

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

The Walker has had mixed success with its restaurants. We were great fans of Gallery 8, the Walker’s original cafe, which closed in 2003, when the building expansion began. The food was attractive, varied, and every bit as delicious as carefully thought out cafeteria-line food could be. When the museum reopened in 2005, the Gallery 8 space had food that we remember only as being gummy. Meanwhile, in the new wing, Wolfgang Puck’s 20.21 served quite good Asian fusion food. But a high-end restaurant serving dinner as well as lunch somewhere up an elevator inside a museum was destined to fail, and its successor, Gather, went the same route. Now, Esker Grove, in a prominent main-floor location, needs to find a successful blend of creativity, style, and flavor while pleasing a wide range of palates and budgets.

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

For lunch, we tried the Hummus Toast ($8), an open-faced sandwich. The hummus contrasted freshness — first apparent as a burst of lemon — with a rich earthiness that comes through in the tahini. The tart-earthy mix was echoed in the garnish of blanched Brussels sprout leaves in a bright vinaigrette on one hand, and unadorned red beets, avocado, and a sprinkling of garbanzos on the other. The base was a slab of lightly toasted Pan Brioche from Baker’s Field; it added another acidic element to the dish via its natural yeasts, although no self-respecting classic brioche would so much as hint at sourness. The rest of the plate held a pile of thin, crisp, but oversalted potato chips.