Heavy Table Hot Five: Feb. 17-23

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

Varsha Koneru / Heavy Table
Varsha Koneru / Heavy Table

1-new - oneButternut Squash Daiquiri at Cafe Alma
A butternut squash cocktail doesn’t sound like something you would want to order, especially in favor of the other great cocktail choices on Cafe Alma’s menu, but this one is worth trying. The squash notes are subtle, but add a wonderful earthiness to the drink. There is a burst of lemon for freshness and acidity, which balances the mild sweetness of the squash.  If that isn’t enough, the drink is served in an adorable hollowed gourd, and topped with a velvety sage leaf, making it one of the best looking cocktails around.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Varsha Koneru]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

2-new - twoMoon Tea from Sacred Blossom Farm
Tony DiMaggio grows, dries, and blends the herbs that go into Sacred Blossom tea at the Gilmanton, Wisconsin farm of the same name. We tried the lavender- and chamomile-forward Moon blend and found it to be profoundly soothing – it’s a bright floral touch of summer, and lacks any of the dusty or weedy notes that sometimes mar herbal teas. You can order this local brew via the farm’s Kickstarter campaign, which wraps up in about week. Dogwood Coffee and The Produce Exchange at Midtown Global Market will also begin carrying retails packs of Sacred Blossom tea next week.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

Bruce Manning / Heavy Table
Bruce Manning / Heavy Table

3-new - threeBeef Tagine at Moroccan Flavors
A speedy, elegant lunch from a warming tray? Yes. In the heart of the Midtown Global Market, you can get an authentic, slow-cooked tagine. The beef is rich, sweet and mildly spicy, served with apricots, prunes and almonds over rice. Or choose chicken and squash, served over couscous.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Bruce Manning]

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

4-new fourCry Baby Burger from Jimmy’s Billiards
The Cry Baby Burger from Jimmy’s Billiards is as feisty as its name sounds. Jalapeño peppers, pepper Jack cheese, and a small but mighty dose of hot sauce will clear those sinuses in no time. Spring for the sour cream for the fries as a heat-reducing dairy product.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #4 | Submitted by Amy Rea]

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

5-new -five Apple, Grilled Cabbage and Prosciutto Salad at Burch
This salad was a nice balance of sweet, tart, and slightly salty … an excellent complement to most of the rich menu items at Burch. “Grilled cabbage” suggests a salty and/or smokey flavor profile, but there was no hint of the grilling in either taste or temperature. Below the mound of green apple bites and shredded cabbage was a generous layer of thinly sliced prosciutto. A touch of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a few chives on top enhanced each of the individual flavors.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Brenda Johnson]

“Bar Food” at Burch Steakhouse and Pizza Bar

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

As compensation for brutal winters, Minnesotans are blessed with endless enviable summer activities. Deciding which outdoor movie, block party, or food fest to attend can be daunting. Now we’re adding one more item to your summer activity “to do” list. Unlike many of the others, this one isn’t free. It’s not even cheap. But it’s sure worth it. So here’s the plan:

1. Go to Burch at 5pm on a sunny day. You may need to leave work early, but this step is critical. Arriving at opening ensures an hour or two of peaceful eating and chatting before dinner service ramps up.

2. Sit at the bar. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. And the bar! It’s beautiful, long, and wide enough for amassing plates and glasses, and the high-backed chairs are super comfy. Most importantly, the sun shines through the floor-to-ceiling windows, basking the bar in a warm summer glow.

3. Order a drink and sample the “bar food.” Technically, Burch doesn’t do bar food, but its small plates are absolutely worth a leery look from your coworker when you breeze out early. Our current favorite combo:

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Lamb Tartare ($13): Featuring extremely fresh, lean lamb from Niman Ranch, this cool dish is a summer treat. Whole mustard seeds, roasted fresno peppers, flake salt, and mint combine for serious flavor, mellowed skillfully by sheep’s milk yogurt. Our only critique (and it’s a very small one) is that the lamb flavor gets a bit lost among the other, strong components.

Pizzeria Pezzo in White Bear Lake

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

In the last few years, the Twin Cities has gained a national reputation as a hotbed of handcrafted, high-quality pizza. With the opening of Pizzeria Pezzo, White Bear Lake is getting in on the action. And if the overflowing crowd of happy diners on a sub-zero Tuesday evening is any indication, the newest coal-fired shop is a welcome addition to the area.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

With financial backing from the late Jim Kowalski (of Kowalski’s markets), Pezzo’s owner and chef, Gary Bougie, seemingly spared little expense on this large (borderline massive) restaurant. It’s modeled on Bougie’s original pizzeria, Slyce, located in a northern suburb of Chicago. Pezzo is big enough to accommodate a large bar area, a very large dining area, and a sizable room for private parties. But because there’s so much space, Pezzo lacks intimacy and, as one of our party pointed out, that dreamy “pizza smell.” Still, eager diners won’t face long waits for a table at this popular new restaurant, which is a huge plus, and the place is well-staffed with incredibly welcoming servers — we were thanked for coming in at least a half dozen times. For better or worse (depending on your view of super cheery, super attentive service), Pezzo’s staff exemplifies “Minnesota Nice.”

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

A Dive Bar Wedding and More

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

A visit to Burch Steak (here’s our review, plus our review of the pizza side of the business, too — pictured above). Zen Box plans a big ol’ ramen party. A profile of Vincent Francoual of Vincent a Restaurant. WACSO sketches The Lunchbox at the Minnesota State Fair. A look at the return of the Ideal Diner (here’s our review). Chowhounds reminisce about their favorite departed local restaurants. And the new issue of Hearten features a wedding-themed shoot at Lee’s Liquor Lounge.

The Churn: An Eating Tour of Stillwater and More

Jill Lewis / Heavy TAble
Jill Lewis / Heavy TAble

Local eateries that will pack your picnic. A culinary tour of Stillwater (see also: today’s In Brief review of Domacin). The Well Fed Guide to Life heads out to the new Town Hall Lanes. Modern Midwest profiles WACSO (whose art graces our pages from time to time.) Details on Hopfest in Dodgeville, WI. A trio of local pizza reviews including Pig Ate My Pizza, Burch Pizza, and Hello Pizza. A suburban sports bar has launched a Kickstarter campaign in part to — and this is a quote — “purchase more flat screen tvs.” [Via Stephanie March] A few local soft cheeses (and here’s our review of Good Thunder by Alemar, pictured above). And $25 will buy you a Minnesota wine passport good for 10 different tastings at any of 30 participating wineries.

The Churn: Sonora Grill Goes Big and More

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Rick gives a four-star review for Burch (here’s our review) and a rundown on four different upcoming crayfish dinners. The old Molly Quinn space on East Lake is going to become a full-scale Sonora Grill location (we’re fans). A new website called mplshealth.com lists food code violations for local restaurants. A positive notice for the sushi (and more) at Haiku (pictured above; here’s our review). Summit rolls out batch 13 of its Unchained series of beers — another IPA! Pig Ate My Pizza gets some national TV exposure (here’s our review). The Sunnyside Up space in Uptown will become Heyday. Our editor talks about Urban Growler on the Current. And a new cheese rolls out of the award-winning LaClare Farms dairy in Wisconsin (here’s our profile of their Evalon cheese).

Experienced Chef Leads Revamped Thrivent Cafe

Banner for the Tap: Food and Drink News

Readers: Win Heavy Table pint glasses

The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding a Heavy Table pint glass to the best tipster each month. 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 Jason Walker at jason@heavytable.com.

January’s winner: Eric Korte of Minneapolis

Thrivent Cafe (now open)

625 4th Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.844.8224

Hiding in plain sight for a while now, chef Jimmy McMullan’s Thrivent Cafe is open to the public for breakfast and lunch with an ever-changing menu and several stations that offer pizza, sandwiches, and more.

McMullan moved to Minnesota eight years ago from New York, where he worked at the swanky St. Regis Hotel after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America. Thrivent hired him a couple years ago when it decided to revamp and completely remodel its former restaurant, and the new cafe concept opened late last year: several stations (breakfast, salad, entree, pizza, etc.) that offer a daily special as well as some build-your own options. The entree line may serve carved prime rib, tater tot hot dish, salmon or fire-roasted cod; at the “exhibition” station McMullan might whip up Szechuan chicken, a risotto, or stir fry.

“Our big things are freshness, being house-made, and when it’s in season I try to use as much local as I can,” McMullan said. “We really push wellness, we steam our vegetables, and, if anything, use olive oil or nothing at all because we want to leave vegetables as pure as possible. We’re also very gluten-friendly, too.

“That’s what we’re shooting for is being able to have food for everybody: vegetarians, vegans, so we’re not excluding anybody and also offering something for vegetarians, say, that’s not just grilled vegetables. We put a lot of effort into making good food for everybody.”

Diners can build a personal pizza on house-made white or wheat dough, or just get a slice; there’s also a daily deli sandwich and soup. McMullan said his salad station was especially popular, including Wednesday’s taco salad special.

“Last week I ran a version of Thanksgiving with a salad of diced white turkey, choice of greens, candied pecans, mini marshmallows, and a Cranberry vinaigrette,” he said.

Breakfasts include made-to-order omelets, biscuits and sausage gravy, an espresso bar, and pastries. And, fro-yo alert: there’s even a frozen yogurt bar. See, hiding in plain sight, all this stuff.

The Thrivent Cafe is open to the public for breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday.

Seward Cafe (adding dinner service)

2129 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis | 612.332.1011

Did I mention vegans? Seward Cafe is adding dinner service next month and will include a variety of dishes for omni- and herbivores alike.

According to a news release, in addition to comfort food like brats, mac and cheese, and hot sandwiches, the expanded Seward “aims to serve healthier alternatives to highly processed soy products used as meat substitutes,” like a veggie burger made with mung beans and another with wild rice. Hey, as a meat eater I still love a veggie burger when it’s well-made in-house, so creative attempts like that are A-OK.

The Seward Cafe is also adding beer and wine at dinner and will be open until midnight weekdays and 1 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Also, the news release said the Seward Cafe has been open since 1974 and is the “oldest collectively run business in the Midwest.” That gives me a pang for the long-shuttered and collectively run Paradise Cafe of my Lawrence, KS, college years, where I took my ultra-conservative grandparents for breakfast on my wedding day and was served by a flamboyantly gay waiter. Happy memories.

Burch Steak, Burch Pizza Bar (now open)

1942 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | 612.843.1515

It’d be shoddy not to mention Burch Steak and Burch Pizza Bar, the upstairs-downstairs colossus that opened last week from Isaac Becker, the James Beard Award-winning chef behind 112 Eatery and Bar La Grassa. Housed in the former Burch Pharmacy building at Franklin and Hennepin, Burch Steak offers two sizes of various cuts of sustainably raised beef; a “raw” menu of tuna, lamb tartare, oysters, and the like; a full line of dumplings; and several non-steak entrees. The pizza bar downstairs offers nine pies, small plates, and desserts.

The whole thing is pretty ambitious by size alone, but if anybody has the chops to pull off three constantly packed restaurants, it’s Becker. And given its Lowry Hill location, it’s not hard to imagine Burch becoming this year’s most successful new restaurant.

NOW OPEN

Jason Schoneman of Steel Toe Brewing
Lars Swanson / Heavy Table
  • Steel Toe Brewing Taproom, 4848 W 35th St, St. Louis Park | 952.955.9965
  • Lago Tacos, 30 Water St, Excelsior | 952.300.8495
  • Nicollet Coffee, 2805 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis. Inside Nicollet Halal Market. | 612.872.1414
  • Smack Shack, Washington Ave N and 6th Ave N, Minneapolis | 651.317.4717
  • Lavvu Coffee House, 817 4th St SE, Minneapolis | 612.331.4136
  • Las Sirenas, 199 Plato Blvd, St. Paul | 651.888.2233
  • Grand Central, 1672 Grand Ave, St. Paul. New cafe from Shish Cafe owners. | 651.964.1015
  • Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Mall of America, Bloomington | 952.883.4223
  • Capitol Cafe, 2417 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis
  • Blue Door Pub, 3448 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.315.2470
  • Parka, 4023 E Lake St, Minneapolis | 612.886.1585
  • Dangerous Man Brewing, 1300 2nd St NE, Minneapolis | 612.209.2626
  • Northgate Brewing, 3134 California St NE, Minneapolis. Beers available on tap only. | 612.234.1056
  • Milton’s Cafe, 3545 Douglas Dr N, Crystal | 763.535.9373
  • BYO Burger, 1221 S Robert St, West St. Paul | 651.457.4800
  • Vitali’s Bistro, 5101 Minnetonka Blvd, St. Louis Park
  • Sky Bites, 811 LaSalle Ave (skyway), Minneapolis | 612.767.2480
  • The Sparrow Cafe, 5001 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.353.5177
  • Borough, 730 Washington Ave, Minneapolis | 612.354.3135
  • Bangkok Thai Deli, 333 University Ave, St. Paul. Reopened in new location. | 651.224.4300
  • Sakana Sushi & Asian Bistro, 740 Cleveland Ave S, St. Paul
  • Eat Street Eatery, 2718 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Redstone American Grill, 12109 Main St, Maple Grove | 763.420.0232
  • Pour Decisions Brewery, 1744 Terrace Dr, Roseville | 612.567.6871
  • Ward 6, 858 Payne Ave, St. Paul | 651.348.8181

CLOSED / CLOSING:

  • Kinsen Noodles and Bar, 1300 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis. Closing Feb. 27. | 612.367.4595
  • Fischerville Coffee House, 2150 Dodd Rd, Mendota Heights
  • Dean’s Tavern, 1986 Rice St, Maplewood
  • Midway Rendezvous Coffee, 518 Snelling Ave N, St. Paul
  • Midori’s Floating World, 2629 E Lake St, Minneapolis. Closed temporarily due to water main break. | 612.721.3011
  • Cat Man Do, 1659 Grand Ave, St. Paul
  • Pizza 3, 1556 Selby Ave, St. Paul
  • Boston Garden, 1019 Mainstreet, Hopkins
  • River Room (inside Macy’s), 411 Cedar St, St. Paul
  • Pandolfi, 3922 W 50th St, Edina
  • Pardon My French, 1565 Cliff Rd, Eagan, and Mall of America
  • D’Amico Kitchen at the Chambers Hotel, 901 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis

COMING UP:
Minneapolis

  • Smoke in the Pit, 3733 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Zeke’s Unchained Animal, 3508 E Lake St, Minneapolis. Opens late February. | 612.720.9878
  • Origami, 1352 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis. Opens late February.
  • Rincon 38, 3801 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens this winter. | 612.408.7063
  • Potter’s Pasties, 1827 Como Ave, Minneapolis. Opens this spring. | 612.819.3107
  • The Nicollet Diner, 1428 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens this spring.
  • Tangiers Eatery and Lounge, 116 First Ave N, Minneapolis. Opens in March.
  • Seward Cafe, 2129 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. Opening in March for dinner service. | 612.332.1011
  • Terzo, 2221 W 50th St, Minneapolis. New wine bar from Broders; opens this spring.
  • Tiny Diner, 1014 E 38th St, Minneapolis | 612.822.6302
  • Spill the Wine, Lake St and Bryant Ave, Minneapolis. Moving from downtown location in April 2013. | 612.339.3388
  • Morrissey’s Irish Pub, 913 W Lake St, Minneapolis. Opens early 2013.
  • Marin, 901 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens summer 2013.
  • Unnamed Gastrotruck restaurant, 2400 University Ave NE, Minneapolis. Opens in 2013.
  • Rocky and Shem’s Ice Cream Shoppe, 56th and Chicago, Minneapolis. Opens in 2013.
  • Sandcastle, Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis. Doug Flicker’s concessionaire restaurant at the lake. Opens spring 2013.
  • Town Hall Tap, 5019 34th Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Kitty’s Corner Cafe, 806 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis
  • The Original Just Turkey Restaurant, 3758 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis

St. Paul

Greater Twin Cities Area

  • Sushi Fix, 862 E Lake St, Wayzata. Opens March 1. | 612.532.0305
  • Hammerheart Brewing, 7785 Lake Dr, Lino Lakes. Opens early 2013. | 651.964.2160
  • Hello Pizza, 3904 Sunnyside Rd, Edina. Opens early 2013.
  • Osaka Seafood and Steakhouse, Woodbury Lakes, Woodbury. Opens early 2013.
  • Punch Pizza, City Centre Dr, Woodbury. Opens June 2013.
  • Black Sea, 1581 E County Road E, White Bear Lake

The Tap is the Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled and published biweekly by Heavy Table writer Jason Walker. If you have tips for The Tap, please email Jason at jason@heavytable.com.

The Churn: The Arrival of Burch and More

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

A progress report on the ambitious, two-restaurant Isaac Becker project known as Burch. A look at the Urban Organics farm and fish operation taking over one of the vacant buildings of the old Hamm’s Brewery in St. Paul. Andrew Zimmern: The man, phenomenon, the burgeoning business empire. The Lift Bridge Silhouette beer release party looks like a barn burner. A peek at the Barbette Mardi Gras tasting menu for Feb. 11-12 [PDF]. Rick Nelson digs World Street Kitchen (here’s our preview). Damian McConn is promoted to head brewer at Summit. Why soda fountains are making a comeback. Black Sea is opening a second restaurant, in White Bear Lake. DeRusha’s insight into how to get a table at Butcher & The Boar (hint: not indoors; the restaurant’s s’mores pictured above; here’s our review). A taste of Bangkok Thai Deli and a roasting of its decor and bathroom (plus a rumor of the return of King & I Thai). And Scotch eggs made with antelope meat.