Bar Brigade, Back Channel Brewing, Whisky at Kado no Mise

This week in the Toast: A pair of cocktails at Bar Brigade, the newly opened Back Channel Brewing, and the whisky bar at Kado no Mise.

Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table

Bar Brigade

Bar Brigade, the new project from J.D. Fratzke and Matty O’Reilly, is now nestled into the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul, and the place seems like it has been there for years. There is nothing either dated or brand new; instead, the petite bar and dining room feel lived in and modern. A noticeable number of plants adorn walls and hang from the ceiling creatively, giving an inviting warmth.

Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table

The cocktail list is nearly as long as the dinner menu and was created with the help of Tattersall’s Dan Oskey. There are French and Italian influences and some thoughtful combinations, though it’s fairly safe overall. The majority of the drinks still echo summertime flavors.

Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table

If you’re not quite ready for cooler temperatures, reminisce with the Salvador ($10), which bears a striking flavor resemblance to iced tea. The lavender simple syrup, lemon, and salt meld with Domaine de Canton, a French ginger liqueur to create a classic herbal combination. It’s bright and sour with a nice intensity of flavor, but is somewhat heavy on the sugar, muting the Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac.

Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table

By recommendation, we tried the Wilde ($11), which is dominated by Pernod. The St. Germaine, lemon, and cucumber all take a back seat. Pastis fans will love this cocktail, but it lacks some balance. Its potent anise aroma and flavor are balanced by acid only in the finish.

Expect good service in a space that’s comfortable for lingering during quieter hours. Bar Brigade clearly draws a semi-regular crowd of adults of all ages — we saw repeat-customer neighbors arriving on foot.

Bar Brigade is expanding its hours – beginning Oct. 14, the restaurant begins brunch service (10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat-Sun); the following week it begins lunch service (11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tue-Fri). Lunch will include a smaller selection of the nighttime menu with lunch-sized portions plus baguette sandwiches and salads; brunch features omelettes, crepes, French toast and a Croque Brigade with pork belly, béchamel, gruyere and tomato on brioche, plus rose on tap and champagne.

Bar Brigade, 470 Cleveland Ave S, St Paul, MN 55105. Tue-Thu 4-10 p.m., Fri-Sat 4-11 p.m., Sun 4-10 p.m.

Rick Didora / Heavy Table
Rick Didora / Heavy Table

Back Channel Brewing

The proliferation of breweries in the far-west Metro shows no signs of slowing down, as the last three months saw multiple openings including Unmapped Brewing in Glen Lake and Back Channel Brewing in Spring Park. The latter opened quietly in September with about a half-dozen beers on tap and a lakeside taproom. The picturesque backdrop of the Dakota bike trail to the north and Lake Minnetonka to the southwest makes up for the looming strip mall, and the dark gray and barn-wood interior nearly disguise the history of the space (a former Country Kitchen).

Rick Didora / Heavy Table
Rick Didora / Heavy Table

The lighter offerings were very successful. The Click Thrice cream ale ($5 per pint) has a Kix cereal aroma with pleasant carbonation and robust body for the style. It’s an ideal everyday beer — pairable and quaffable — though the finish is heavy-handed in terms of bitterness. The Lake Maker ($5 per pint) is lighter-bodied with the delicate hop profile of a Pilsner and a honey character that makes this lager nicely balanced. The extremely pale beer belies the intensity of flavor.

Wheat ale fans may be less impressed. The Cold Feat ($5 per pint) was a disappointment. It was generally lacking in flavor, and much of the wheat body seemed to be lost to filtration or otherwise. There was a hint of chlorophenol — clove or Band-Aid-like flavor — that snuck into the finish, as well.

Delicata in Como, St. Paul

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

J.D. Fratzke and Matty O’Reilly have been busy. Between summer 2016 and March 2017, they opened two restaurants, Red River Kitchen and Bar Brigade. And now they’ve added Delicata, a casual Italian eatery in the Como neighborhood of St. Paul helmed by Noah Barton (former executive chef at Chino Latino). The newest member of the family has a lot in common with Punch Neapolitan Pizza. Like that local institution, Delicata offers a concise, pizza-focused menu emphasizing fresh ingredients in a family-friendly environment. And like the newer Punch locations, Delicata is counter-service only.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

But this newbie isn’t a knockoff. It adds unique twists to familiar dishes, often with great success (though limited, at times, by poor execution, but more on that in a bit). Take the Antipasto Platter ($12), for example. With sweet, plumped grapes, spicy giardiniera, savory gigante beans, salty cured meats and olives, and crunchy almonds, it’s a delicious adventure in flavor and texture.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Another starter, the Grilled Artichokes ($7) is a refreshing departure from standard artichoke dips: A quartet of smoky hearts pairs brilliantly with bright, nutty romesco sauce. Heaped on expertly bronzed crostini, the “dip” is spot on. The Big Mixed Salad ($12) also excellently updates a classic: We’d be thrilled if pickled onions, gigante beans, prosciutto, sliced egg, and marinated tomatoes became staples in pizza parlor salads.

Several pizzas showcase the Delicata team’s creativity and commitment to killer ingredients. The humbly named Pork Sausage ($12) is one of the most satisfying pies we can recall. It’s piled high with zesty meat, pillowy ricotta, and tender fennel slices; vibrant oregano and punchy romesco pull the aggressive elements into a cohesive whole.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

The Delicata Pizza, made with the eponymous winter squash ($12, top) is another inventive eye-opener. We were skeptical that combining naturally sweet squash and balsamic vinegar with salty prosciutto and blue cheese would work. But where we expected a power surge, instead we got a great balance of sweet and salty (if perhaps a bit too much blue cheese). A veggie option ($13, above) with artichoke, spinach, feta, and olives on rich red sauce doesn’t break new ground, but it’s as tasty as the more adventurous combos.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Delicata’s short list of desserts distances the restaurant from the pack. We’d travel far and wide for the Coconut Cake ($6). As one of our dining partners exclaimed, “That’s what dessert should look like — just stupid good.” Topped with small peaks of light meringue, the cake is moist, airy, and just the right amount of sweet. Slightly burnt shredded coconut is the secret not-secret ingredient, adding depth and texture to an already great slice of cake.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Both types of gelato we tried — pistachio and strawberry ($5 each) — held their own against the pastry. A little less dense and a little creamier than average gelato, these offerings explode with flavor. Given that Delicata bills itself as a pizza and gelato joint, we were surprised that it serves gelato from Sonny’s and Zia’s Gelato rather than make it in house.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Our excitement about Delicata’s desserts was, nonetheless, unable to smooth over the restaurant’s inconsistency. Some pizzas arrived crisp and adorned with beautiful leopard spots, while others showed up floppy and without char. Depending on the night, the Cheesy Garlic Bread ($5) was unappetizingly greasy or well-balanced and satisfying. Even the Big Mixed Salad varied visit to visit. After winning us over during on our first trip, it bombed on the second — limp greens seemed like they’d been dressed earlier in the evening rather than to order.

Delicata has the right ingredients to become an excellent neighborhood restaurant: a friendly vibe, comfortable indoor seating, a spacious patio, interesting yet approachable food, and rosé on tap. Given Fratzke’s and O’Reilly’s respective track records, we’re confident that Delicata will fix its consistency issues and, with a little luck, enjoy Punch-style success.

Jane Rosemarin edited this story; James Norton has worked closely with Noah Barton at Chef Camp.

Delicata
Pizzeria and Gelateria in the Como neighborhood of St. Paul

651.756.8123
1341 Pascal St
St. Paul, MN 55108
CHEF/OWNERS: Noah Barton / J.D. Fratzke and Matty O’Reilly
BAR: Beer and wine
VEGETARIAN/VEGAN: Yes / Yes
ENTREE RANGE: $9-$14
NOISE LEVEL: Moderate
HOURS: Mon-Fri 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
Sat and Sun 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (Brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m., beginning Sept 23)
PARKING: Street

Heavy Table Hot Five: April 21-27

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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.

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Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

1-new - onePork Gyro from The Naughty Greek
Our list of top three gyro places has long contained Gyropolis, Filfillah, and The Best Steak House (University) in that order, but with the ascent of The Naughty Greek in St. Paul and a recent lackluster visit to Filfillah, we’ve re-ordered it: It’s now Gyropolis, The Naughty Greek, and The Best Steakhouse. What makes the Naughty Greek gyro so good? Perfectly charred, flavorful, and not-too-fatty shreds of meat, a surprising but delightful sprinkling of herbed shoestring French fries inside the gyro itself, and a really good wrapper. The supple, flavorful, delicious pita isn’t made in house. but it is actually as impressive as if it were — we asked about it, and the owner freely confessed that it was “resurrected” through an application of herbs, oil, and heat.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

2-new - twoPurple Rain Smoothie at Crisp & Green
Crisp & Green’s Purple Rain Smoothie (in honor of Prince, may he RIP) contains banana, blueberries, strawberries, apple, and unflavored pea protein. This flavorful and filling smoothie is a good fit for a breakfast on the go or even a quick lunch (it clocks in at 310 calories). The texture is smooth (not gritty like some fresh-fruit smoothies), and the flavor an ideal balance of sweet and tart. Bonus: If you’re focused on consuming maximum polyphenols, this is your beverage!
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Brenda Johnson]

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

3-new - threePot de Creme at Bar Brigade
Pot de Creme so easily goes wrong — too sugary, too bland, too rubbery and puddinglike. The stuff at Bar Brigade is first rate: exceedingly creamy, sweet without being excessively sugary, and touched with the firm hand of legitimate cocoa flavor that makes a dessert ravishingly interesting. As dessert concepts go, this is a simple one, but it’s a classic for a reason.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

4-new fourMeatball Sandwich at Geno’s
It’s not a sexy sandwich, but the meatball roll or hoagie at Geno’s is made with the right components — a bright marinara, light but rich meatballs, enough melted cheese to cover but not smother, and a properly toasted bun. It’s inhalable magic. At $10 on a roll or $12 on a hoagie, it’s a little pricey on the face of it, but the flavor justifies the outlay.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from a review by James Norton]

 

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

5-new -five Chocolate Macaron at Patrick’s Bakery
I’ve never been a huge fan of macarons. Most of the time they are far too sweet. It’s the magical colors that draw me in … but they rarely taste as magical as they look. The macarons at Patrick’s Bakery feature not just wonderful colors but gargantuan size — easily double the size of a typical macaron. The chocolate variety was not overly sweet and was dusted with cocoa powder, which neutralized a bit more of the sugar. The texture and taste were perfect. Each bite was chewy yet crispy and creamy.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Brenda Johnson]