One of the many gifts provided to Minnesotans by the liberalization of alcohol laws is that smaller cities and town can increasingly lay claim to top-flight places to drink locally brewed beer and spirits. Northfield isn’t exactly hurting for culture, but the recent opening of Tanzenwald Brewing Company is a real coup nonetheless, combining an ambitious beer program with a smartly written, nosh-focused menu.
We were headed to Tanzenwald for food first and foremost (having just finished a tour at nearby Graise Farm), but we couldn’t skip the beer, and we’re glad that we didn’t. Our $4 flight of three short pours was illuminating — all three beers had different strengths and weaknesses, and they spoke to a beer program that is ambitious without being unrealistic, and interested in covering multiple bases. In order of preference, from least liked to most, the Funky Dunk raspberry sour (above, middle) was more woody and muddy than tart and fruity, and while the “funky” part of the name served as a warning, it isn’t the way we’ve generally tasted (or generally prefer) to drink this kind of beer. Based on name alone, we were worried that the Guns-a-Blazin’ double IPA (8.2 percent ABV / 72 IBU, left) would be a massive, astringent, palate-crushing hops bomb, but it’s actually lovely and drinkable with a good malt backbone and a juicy crush of hops flavor that rewards rather than punishes continued sipping. And the Frühstück (right), a coffee schwarzbier, is one of the most adeptly balanced and tasty coffee beers we’ve tasted in a state that is becoming wealthy with good examples of the style. The beer had a clean, espressolike clarity with a big hit of legit coffee flavor and not too much bitterness or bite (or sweetness, for that matter).
Like the striking lacquered tables that give the taproom a luxe but lived-in feel, Tanzenwald’s food menu couldn’t be any more elegant or more suited to its mission. It’s a collection of moderately priced, made-with-care dishes tailored perfectly to pair with beer, and it’s unintimidating without being dull or predictable.
At the top of our list, with a bullet, was the Bratwurst ($10, or $13 with a subbed-in side of spaetzle, as we ate it). Topped with crispy kraut and beer-braised onions, this is one of the best bratwursts we’ve had in years, Wisconsin inclusive. It was snappy but not tough, smoothly textured without being pasty or squishy, and imbued with a coriander-driven spice bite that was clean, natural, and assertive without being overpowering. The bun was ample and had character without overpowering its contents, and the whole dish was a rare, ideal version of what a bratwurst can be. The accompanying spaetzle with brown-butter sage sauce were tender and tasty but could have used a heavier hit of sage and seasoning. (Note: There’s also a veganwurst from the Herbivorous Butcher on the menu for $12, for those who want the treat without the meat).
Our Banh Mi ($11) wasn’t a classic example of the format (it was based on grilled chicken, for example, not multiple kinds of pork). That said, a lot of classic, balanced elements (crispy bread, bright pickled veg, spicy heat — in this case from a sriracha mayo) were present, and it absolutely worked as a light and savory lunch option that brought a ton of flavor to the table.
Our Soft Pretzel ($6 on the menu, discounted to $4 on our bill for some reason) was a bit small for the price, but it was enjoyable — enough salt to complement the chewy-but-not-tough bready flavor of the pretzel, and a good exterior-to-interior ratio making every bite a pleasant experience. An accompanying beer-cheese sauce was an ideal dipping condiment, although we would have voted for a hotter, grainier mustard sauce as opposed to the sweeter, creamier version that arrived.
The Killer Brownies ($6) were the only real miss in an afternoon of hits. A good brownie has a chewy solidity (honestly, if it veers toward fudge that’s A-OK with us) and leads with a cocoa wallop. Tanzenwald’s brownies had a rock-candy-like, almost crystalline, sugary shell that was wrapped around a softer brownie interior that was also sweet, sweet, sweet without much chocolate kick. These weren’t bad brownies by any stretch of the imagination, but they fell a bit short of the spot’s potential.
Brownies notwithstanding, there aren’t too many rough edges to sand off of Tanzenwald – as regards food and beer alike, the team doesn’t appear to be cutting any corners, and the result is gem of a taproom.
Tanzenwald Brewing Company
Taproom and restaurant in Northfield, Minn.
103 Water St N
Northfield, MN 55057
Tue-Thu 3-10 p.m.
Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sun 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Yes
ENTREE RANGE: $10-$13
NOISE LEVEL: Amenable din
PARKING: Small lot, limited street parking
This post is sponsored by Chef Camp. Want to learn more about Chef Camp? Come down to the Fulton taproom tonight (Wednesday, July 12) — the Chef Camp team will be hosting a meetup and answering questions. The first 10 people to come say hi will get a free Chef Camp T-shirt!
Burdock plants are stunningly common. They’re regarded as an invasive species, and they’re also potentially a side dish for dinner.
“I’ve lately become obsessed with burdock,” writes Noah Barton. Barton is the camp cook for Chef Camp (he’ll be at both the Sept. 1-3 and Sept. 8-10 sessions), and is opening the Matty O’Reilly/J.D. Fratzke restaurant Delicata later this summer. “It’s an invasive species that is highly edible, so we can feel good about pulling it out of the ground by its roots. The whole plant is edible, even the burrs when they are young, although I’ve honestly only tried eating the root.”
“You can find it just about everywhere, I’ve been pulling it out of the yard at my mom’s house in Inver Grove Heights, but I see it all over in the parks in my neighborhood, especially around Minnehaha Falls.” (Editor’s note: Burdock can’t be removed from public land without a permit.)
“Burdock leaves basically look like rhubarb, but they aren’t as shiny as rhubarb leaves. They almost appear fuzzy. The roots can be really hard to get out of the ground, but they look like long, skinny white carrots when you do get them out. The flavor is slightly grassy, not unlike a woody version of a parsnip.” In its first year burdock is short, like rhubarb. In its second year, burdock growth has annoying burrs that catch on your clothes or get stuck in your dog’s fur. Those are the seeds that spread the plant everywhere. The roots are edible from both first- and second-year plants, but are smaller and more tender on first-year plants.
Barton adds that the recipe is an opportunity to make good use of an invasive species, and that if you’re hiking somewhere where its harvest is legal, it could be an ideal foraged food from the trail.
“One could make the dressing ahead of time and then head out with a shovel in tow,” he writes. “Upon returning to their campsite [foragers] could quickly peel and shred the roots using just a vegetable peeler and blanch them in boiling water before marinating. It’s like ‘one less thing to pack’ salad. Of course, you could also add other vegetables, carrots, cabbage, or whatever to the mix.”
Kathy Yerich contributed to this story.
SPICY BURDOCK SALAD
12 ounces burdock root
¼ cup rice wine vinegar (seasoned)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
½ tablespoon sambal oelek
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Combine rice vinegar, sesame oil, sambal, garlic, lemon juice, sugar, and salt and mix well. Set aside.
2. Wash burdock root well. Using a vegetable peeler, remove outer skin.
3. Use vegetable peeler to cut burdock into thin strips.
4. Blanch burdock in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, or until just tender.
5. Place blanched burdock into dressing mixture and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
This week in the Tap: Thoughts on the food hall boom, a look ahead at upcoming restaurants, notes about spots that have closed, and about those that have recently opened.
All Hail the Food Hall
With the upcoming openings of Keg and Case, The Market House Collaborative, and Malcolm Yards, the Twin Cities is poised to see a monster boom in food hall spaces — indoor spaces containing some combination of fish, meat, and produce markets, restaurants, quick-service counters and stalls, and drinking establishments. The somewhat chaotic Midtown Global Market has been slinging a wide variety of sometimes excellent food for more than a decade, making the upcoming boom feel a bit delayed. It’s welcome nonetheless. Anyone who has ever been to a top-flight food hall like Chelsea Market in New York or the Ferry Building in San Francisco knows that they have the power to transform and help define a scene. And anyone who has been to any of the ethnic food halls like Mercado Central or the Hmong Village knows that they can contain a wealth of culinary wonders that are almost entirely off the mainstream map.
Whenever we get a lot of something (think: crudo) there’s an immediate and understandable tendency for diners to worry that the hot new thing is a mere fad. Sometimes (think: crudo) it certainly is, but sometimes (think: taprooms and cocktail rooms) it’s not — it’s a meaningful change in the way people eat and drink. The food hall seems like an idea whose time has very much come for a few major reasons:
Scalability — The boom in food and drink businesses in recent years means that there are a lot of new players, and a lot of smaller players trying to grow. Having halfway steps between the home kitchen and a stand-alone, bricks-and-mortar restaurant is a great way to help the scene grow organically. Food trucks have been that halfway step for many of the best new restaurants in the region. Food halls may well serve that role for the next decade or two.
Co-location and Community — Food halls can help their members co-market and collaborate. Chefs and food artisans are naturally prone to share and work together, and being cheek-by-jowl in a market setting boosts those opportunities to cross-pollinate. And for visitors, the close proximity of multiple vendors can make a food hall a one-stop destination for dining, drinking, and shopping.
The Sense of Discovery — Because tenants in food halls often hold short-term leases and smaller shops are often expanding or graduating to new digs, food halls tend to host a shifting roster of vendors, which means that if you visit every month or two, you’re likely to stumble upon new discoveries that reward your patronage. And when you’re showing out-of-town visitors around the area, few things can top a well-curated food hall for making a good impression. — James Norton
The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Barrel Theory Beer Company, 248 E 7th St, St. Paul | As per the Growler: “A partnership between Surly Brewing Company’s former director of technology Brett Splinter, former Surly brewer Timmy Johnson, and CPA Todd Tibesar.” Our preview is here.
- Hoops Brewing, 325 S Lake Ave, Duluth | Expectations have been high for this new brewery, a project by Dave Hoops, formerly of Fitger’s.
- Portillo’s, 8450 Hudson Rd, Woodbury | First Minnesota outpost of the famous Chicago hot dog empire.
- 510 Lounge & Private Dining, 510 Groveland Ave, Minneapolis | Private event space and open-to-the-public lounge run by Chef Don Saunders (The Kenwood).
- Gray Duck Tavern, 345 Wabasha St, St. Paul | “Comfort food from all over the world.”
- 1.2.3. Pasta, 6508 Cahill Ave, Inver Grove Heights | Fresh pastas, pizza, and more from the owners of La Grolla.
- The Lynhall, 2640 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis | “A market-inspired cafe, event space, kitchen studio, and incubator kitchen.”
- Town Hall Station, 4500 Valley View Rd, Edina | The latest in the growing Town Hall mini-empire.
- Rise Bagel Company, 530 N 3rd St, Minneapolis | Quality bagels in a town hungry for them.
- The Original on 42nd, 1839 E 42nd St, Minneapolis | A sandwich shop in the former Colossal Cafe location.
- StormKing Barbecue, 16½ W 26th St, Minneapolis | A new Texas-style barbecue window from the team behind the adjacent Black Sheep Pizza.
This story is a product of Heavy Table’s first Listening Session, underwritten and hosted by the Lakewinds Food Co-op. On May 23, we interviewed 15 local food artisans over the course of eight hours, with a goal of taking a snapshot of the vibrant Minnesota food scene.
When a proper history book about the evolution of Upper Midwestern food gets written (probably in about 100 years), no doubt the region’s thriving food co-op scene will be near the center of the story. Minnesota (and neighboring states) have been waking up from a culinary inferiority complex and tapping into the rich resources at hand — farms, lakes, forests, and people — to create food that is legitimately local, and has a profile that no other part of the country can lay claim to. By binding together farmers, artisan food producers, and consumers who are looking for something one or two steps beyond the mega-market food experience, co-ops are carrying the flag for the region in a way no other force really can.
Case in point: Lakewinds Food Co-op. Lakewinds is using a new program called Maker to Market to incubate, advise, and help launch small food producers by transitioning promising makers from home kitchens to professional production and distribution.
“We do great in the produce department and our house-made deli, but at the center of the grocery store, we’re always looking for new local products,” says Jill Holter, the media and community outreach specialist for Lakewinds. “We cooked up this scheme using The Good Acre‘s farmer network and kitchen space. We would offer our branding and retail packaging and pricing knowledge, and knowledge of where we see gaps [in the market].”
“We put an application online, and we got 30 applicants,” says Holter. “For local food makers to break into retail requires distribution, and it requires packaging help. And it requires the ability to analyze their costs and make their margins.”
The first part of the process was sorting through all the applicants, a process that was driven in large part by taste.
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 email@example.com.
The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.
Smoked Lake Trout at Russ Kendall’s
If you find yourself driving to the North Shore, be sure to swing into Russ Kendall’s Smoke House (149 Scenic Dr, Knife River, Minn.). The Lake Superior Smoked Lake Trout is the quintessential food element at our family’s annual summer camping trip to the North Shore. Russ Kendall sources trout fresh from the ice cold waters of Lake Superior and smokes it to perfection. It’s moist, rich, and slightly pungent in flavor, and it’s not overly salty or fishy as some smoke trout can be. The pieces are generous, and the price is right for the quality.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Brenda Johnson]
Iowa Style Pork at The Original on 42nd
Lightly breaded, thinly pounded pork loin pairs up beautifully with pickles, mayo, lettuce, and a massive slice of tomato in the Iowa Style Pork Sandwich at The Original on 42nd. This is the second sandwich we’ve tried at this little independent shop at the old Colossal Cafe location, and it’s the second winner. It’s earthy, comforting, and nicely balanced, and the pork slice on our sandwich was so huge that it overran the bun by a good half inch.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]
It’s cherry time, and if the birds haven’t picked your nearest tree clean, you probably have just days left to beat them to it. Sour cherry trees have become popular on boulevards and front lawns across the Twin Cities. Jewel-like Montmorencys are sweet enough to pop right in your mouth, but also make a fine jam or pie. Next up, blueberries.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Tricia Cornell]
The $5 Cheeseburger at Constantine at the Hotel Ivy
The $5 cheeseburger at Constantine (half of the Constantine/Monello pairing of restaurants at the Hotel Ivy) may be small, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in flavor. The luxuriously buttered bun, the thoroughly melted layer of cheese, and the rich, fully-flavored beef patty combine to make this little burger a rich indulgence. And it’s five bucks! You can’t lose!
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]
Carma Tonic from Carma Coffee
I’m always on the hunt for a not-sweet-but-still-refreshing beverage, and Carma Coffee in Minneapolis delivers with the Carma Tonic: two shots of espresso swirled with tonic water, a light touch of sweetener, and lemon. That’s a lot of bitter and tang, but just that little dab of sweetener soothes it enough without tipping it into the cloying range. Entirely refreshing, especially when enjoyed on a sunny day.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #4 | Submitted by Amy Rea]