Heavy Table Hot Five: Nov. 17-23

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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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Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table
Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

1-new - one - hot fiveSeafood Chowder at Corner Table
This was an eye-catching dish that warmed and comforted on a chilly evening while offering enough brightness to keep us interested. The clams, resting on a dollop of brandade, were fresh and meaty. The brandade, a puree of potatoes and whitefish (although traditionally made with cod), was rich and nutty. The house-made oyster crackers were crunchy, tender, and light. Bits of crisp celery offered a contrast to the creamy broth and confit potato slices. And to top it all, the sparkling smoked roe provided explosions of briny depth.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Jane Rosemarin]

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

2-new - two - hot fiveDuck a la Presse at Meritage
As we wrote in our story about Meritage’s (extremely) special duck dish, Duck a la Presse isn’t just an entree, it’s an entire complicated, beautiful, and somewhat brutal process that plays out tableside, from duck deconstruction to squeezing to sauce-making. The end product is worth the fuss and expense. It’s one of the richest and most delicious duck dishes we’ve tried.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from a story by James Norton]

Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table

3-new - three hot fiveBreakfast Bowl at Coalition
Coalition in Edina now occupies the old Pearson’s Family Restaurant space. Their hearty breakfasts are a far cry from the former classic diner fare. Try the satisfying Breakfast Bowl, made with farro, spinach, avocado, bacon, dried cherries, and creme fraiche. Though it sounds, in part, like health food, it’s flavorful and filling.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Paige Latham Didora]

James Norton / Heavy Table

4-new four hot fiveFried Bologna Sandwich at Bull’s Horn
The Fried Bologna Sandwich at the newly opened Bull’s Horn boasts meat that was smoked in house, a deviled egg schmear, a lot of lettuce, pickles, and spicy mustard. Hand to God, the first thing we thought of when we bit into it, with all its fatty, earthy meatiness, was that we were eating a decent corned beef sandwich.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from an upcoming review by James Norton]

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table
Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveChocolate Zucchini Bread at Corner Table
Karyn Tomlinson, the new chef de cuisine at Corner Table has taken an eat-your-vegetables kids’ snack and transformed it into something stupendous. She infuses her chocolate-zucchini bread with custard and tops it with a rich caramel sauce to yield a moist cake that tastes like a chewy brownie, but with a lighter crumb. The bread is served warm with a slab of creme fraiche ice cream on the side. Contrasts in flavor, texture, and temperature keep this dessert in exquisite balance.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Jane Rosemarin]

The Tap: Worshiping the Fire God

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This week in the Tap: A meditation on the primal importance of fire when it comes to cooking, and advancing the region’s culinary profile.

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 editor@heavytable.com.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Worshiping the Fire God

Imagine a spectrum. One on end is what is (sometimes unfairly) called “tweezer food” — foams, microgreens, gels, steak that’s been so thoroughly sous vided that it takes on the consistency of jam. On the other end is a hunk of meat, dangling over a pile of burning wood.

The longer I write about food, the more I find myself anchored to the hunk-of-meat end of the spectrum, in defiance of white tablecloths, painstakingly manicured small plates, and precious little tidbits sent out as gifts of the kitchen. The kitchen gift I want is a quarter of a lamb, rubbed in spices and coffee and subjected to the heat of an old-fashioned grill, or onions cooked right in the embers of a fire so that their exterior layer turns black as coal, leaving the interior juicy and caramelized.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Hunks of homemade bread, earthy local cheese, whole grilled fish, and cunningly made sausages — that’s what’s for dinner at the peasant end of the table, and that’s where some of the future of food must certainly lie.

This isn’t a unique opinion. Thomas Boemer and Nick Rancone, the Corner Table / Revival guys, are moving toward fire in a big way with their new place at the former Schmidt brewery. (Big isn’t a metaphor; it’s a literal reference to the 20-foot-wide wood-burning hearth that will anchor the yet-to-be-named place.) Jordan Smith of Black Sheep Pizza does some amazing things with coal-fired pizza and the new grill at his Nicollet Avenue location. Jorge Guzman has put Surly’s Brewer’s Table and dining hall on the national map via his skill with fire and smoke.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

And with the Heavy Table’s involvement in the Chef Camp project (pictured) we’re trying to put a hand in because fire makes delicious food, because it’s seductive and mercurial, and because this is an authentic direction for the Upper Midwest culinary scene: something anchored around a campfire (or a hearth) that brings a pioneer spirit to the world of dining.

Molecular gastronomy and artfully composed fine plates will always have their place here in the Upper Midwest and elsewhere. But diners looking for something a bit more wild and soulful need only get the grill going to discover the past — and future — of food. — James Norton

NOW OPEN

Brianna Stachowski / Heavy Table
Brianna Stachowski / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table
  • World of Beer, 356 N Sibley St, St. Paul | Part of a chain including locations in Wauwatosa and Appleton, Wis., and Naperville, Ill. Our Bite is here.
  • Lu’s Sandwiches, 10 6th St NE, Minneapolis | The second location of this “small menu” banh mi spot.
  • Blackeye Roasting Company, 3740 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis | An 18-seat cafe located in the Minneapolis skyway — with 10 tap lines of nonalcoholic beverages that include nitro cold brew coffee, nitro iced tea, kombucha, and draft cocktails — is coming later this summer.
  • Costa Blanca Bistro, 2416 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | The latest spot from the opening-restaurants-like-crazy Hector Ruiz. Here’s our review.
  • Lawless Distilling, 2619 28th Ave S, Minneapolis | Our visit detailed here.

The Tap: Welcome to the Sidecar Era

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This week in the Tap: Thoughts about the state of casual spinoff restaurants in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and some ideas for others to come.

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 editor@heavytable.com.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Rise of the Sidecar Restaurant

If there’s one trend over the past five years that merits the twin titles of “Most Lasting” and “Most Welcome,” it’s the proliferation of sidecar restaurants — the more casual, more affordable, more sustainable travel companions of chef-driven prestige eateries. Alma’s Brasa is the classic example, but they’re everywhere now, and are increasingly a baked-in part of the business plan for major restaurant launches. (The “sidecar,” in fact, often reaps the bulk of the profits drummed up by the high-profile but expensive-to-operate bigger sister restaurant.)

Sometimes they’re spun off to new locations (as in Corner Table’s Revival, now opening a second edition in the old Cheeky Monkey space in St. Paul), and sometimes they’re built into the floor plan (as in the pizza cave in Burch Steak or the wine-and-pizza bar Foreign Legion, still standing adjacent to the much lamented former Brasserie Zentral space). Either way, sidecars allow a high-flying franchise a better shot at attracting noncelebration business by selling casual (but still beautifully made) fare at moderate prices. Even the newly opened Mucci’s can be seen as a sidecar for the ambitious Saint Dinette and Strip Club Meat and Fish. Although all three spots offer warm hospitality, Mucci’s also offers instantly accessible Italian-Ameircan fare and a correspondingly smaller check.

On that front, here are our thoughts about four upscale spots that could comfortably spawn spinoffs to make our weeknight (or, hell, special occasion) dining a little bit more delicious.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

HEIRLOOM — Everything about Heirloom (from the harmonious presentation to the reliance on fresh produce) lends itself to a Japanese-inspired spinoff. Heirloom East could do a bit of sushi, but the real value would be in earthier, simpler dishes that show off the cuisine’s range, such as pickled, curried, raw, and cooked selections served up in a bento box.

Key Dishes: Market-vegetable-driven bento boxes, tempura, curry pan, maki of the day

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

PICCOLO — Piccolo’s cachet is doing small, pricey, perfectly manicured bites for boldfaced names, which actually makes it pretty easy to spin something off. There will be a lot of daylight between itself and its sidecar restaurant no matter what, in much the same way that any Alma spinoff was going to be comfortably distinct from its parent.

Case in point: Yes, the Piccolo project Sandcastle qualifies as a sidecar, and yes, it’s a good idea that’s doing well. But there’s enough room between the lakeside hot-dog stand and the fine-dining bistro to allow for another spot, and here’s the concept:

We call it Grande, and it’s a right-on-the-Southwest-border-inspired barbecue spot, with its tacos, burritos, and yes, chimichangas — stuffed with impeccably smoked and seasoned meats the likes of which we’ve never before tasted. If this sounds like it’s out of left field, it’s not entirely. We were inspired by the pulled pork and barbecue served at the restaurant’s family meal featured in the book Come in, We’re Closed.

Key Dishes: Tacos, burritos, and yes, chimichangas

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

HEARTLAND — The cured meats and locally sourced food of Heartland seem ripe to spill over into a sandwich-shop-of-the-gods concept called Grinder. With a bit of tapas / wine-bar styling, this place could comfortably bridge the transition from lunch to happy hour, serving Upper Midwestern meats and cheeses on great local bread, and then slinging small plates and drinks as the sun goes down.

Key Dishes: A riff on the France 44 “just ham and great cheese” sandwich, a personal-sized meat-and-pickle plate with an accompanying glass of wine or beer, tasting flights of local cheese

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

MERITAGE — Meritage arguably already has its sidecar restaurant with its more-casual, seafood-forward bar half of the restaurant. But it would be easy enough to finish the thought and spin things off entirely by opening the Lowertown Oyster Bar as a separate spot with Continentally inspired soups, exquisite salads, and oysters a-go-go, preferably in a small space with a ton of foot traffic, so as to move product quickly.

Key Dishes: Oyster po’ boys, (various kinds of) chowder, a spin on Oysters Rockefeller — James Norton

The Soon-to-Open Oude Oak Will Now Be Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery

The sour-beer focused Oude Oak was preparing to open its doors this year when word came down from on high (the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) that its name was in conflict with another brewery. Thus the shift to its new name: Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery. — J.N.

NOW OPEN

Dogwood Coffee Pour Over
Kate N.G. Sommers/Heavy Table
  • Dogwood Coffee Company (new location), 825 Carleton St, St. Paul
  • Handsome Hog, 225 E 6th St, St. Paul | Former Brasserie Zentral and Meritage chef Justin Sutherland is cooking contemporary Southern food with a high-end twist.
  • Hoban Korean Barbecue, 2939 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Hi-Lo Diner, 4020 E Lake St, Minneapolis
  • Angry Inch Brewing, 20841 Holyoke Ave, Lakeville
  • Q Fanatic, 6009 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | We can’t wait to try this second location of our favorite local BBQ joint.
  • Lou Nanne’s, 7651 France Ave S, Edina | Steakcentric menu with a Manny’s vet (Josh Hill) as chef.
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
  • Mucci’s, 786 Randolph Ave, St. Paul | A new old-school Italian-American place from Tim Niver, owner of Strip Club Meat and Fish and Saint Dinette. Serving dinner Tuesday-Sunday — as well as doughnuts and coffee on weekends from “8 a.m. until they’re gone.” We reviewed it here.

Out-of-Towners’ Guide to Minneapolis 2015

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Welcome to the Twin Cities! Don’t know where to find interesting, high quality food and drink? Whether you’re looking to splurge or eat on the cheap, we’ve got you covered. Looking to drink killer cocktails and treat a hangover the next morning? No problem. Want to know where the locals get their doughnuts, sausage, tacos, and coffee? You’ve come to the right site.

The guide is a collection of places our contributors take out-of-towners (or suggest others take visitors). It’s not a “best-of” list. It’s also not comprehensive. To keep the guide from getting unwieldy, we limited the number of categories and suggestions within each category. Therefore, there are numerous places that we love that didn’t make it into the guide. If you asked us where to eat, drink, and hang out, this is what we’d tell you (and then we’d list a bunch of back-up spots). Together, the interactive map (posted at the end of this article), the list, and the corresponding Foursquare list will help you plan your gastronomic tour of the Twin Cities.

After considering feedback on last year’s inaugural guide, we decided to split the document into two parts, one for each of the Twin Cities. We published the St. Paul guide last month, and now bring you the Minneapolis version. To avoid duplication, we have not included restaurants on the St. Paul list that have Minneapolis locations: Black Sheep Pizza, Brasa, and Colossal Cafe.

Locals: Along with using the guide and sending it to folks visiting town, we hope you will add your recommendations in the comments section (and tell us why our suggestions are completely off base). We update the guide annually, so your feedback helps us improve the document as well as provide out-of-towners with additional suggestions.

Worth the Splurge

Brasserie Zentral logo
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Brasserie Zentral; 505 S Marquette Ave, Minneapolis | Our review

The Central European vibe at Brasserie Zentral is unlike that at just about any other place in town. The white-tablecloth atmosphere is welcoming without being fussy, and “fancy” in the best possible meaning of the word. Dishes are made with impeccable consistency using top-notch ingredients. At Zentral, the fine cuisine of Vienna meets the country charm of Hungarian folk dishes and Jewish heritage food, and the foie gras menu is long and lovely.

Kenwood Restaurant; 2115 W 21st St, Minneapolis | Our review

A sunlight-infused casual spot just off the north end of Lake of the Isles, The Kenwood features seasonal fare that’s approachable, elegant, and often playful. Along with lunch and dinner, The Kenwood serves a full brunch every day, with a range of beautifully executed classic egg dishes as well as more Midwestern-inflected options.

Crystal Liepa / Heavy Table
Crystal Liepa / Heavy Table

Corner Table; 4537 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Our discussion with owner Nick Rancone and chef Thomas Boemer

For a pork-forward, impeccably executed, disarmingly comfortable taste of the Upper Midwest by way of the mid-South, a meal at Corner Table is the way to go. The restaurant’s sourcing and technique are both killer, and the ever-changing menu has a host of twists and surprises that make every visit a rewarding adventure.

Spoon and Stable; 211 1st St N, Minneapolis | Our review

The brainchild of chef-owner Gavin Kaysen, Spoon and Stable is at the leading edge of what we might think of as “comfortable fine dining.” The food isn’t flashy — there aren’t bells and whistles, meat glue, or liquid nitrogen. But it is precise, beautiful, and delicious. Spoon and Stable’s desserts — the handiwork of pastry chef Diane Yang — are exquisite, and the beverage program is first rate. The restaurant also boasts one of the more popular and well-regarded brunches in the Twin Cities.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Bachelor Farmer; 50 N 2nd Ave, Minneapolis | Our review

The restaurant that drew national attention for capitalizing on a “new Nordic” trend has created a nice niche for itself in the Twin Cities. Owned by Target heirs Eric and Andrew Dayton, the space feels like a slightly fancy, modern take on an old-fashioned, imagined Scandinavian heartland. And the food doesn’t disappoint — don’t miss the shareable toasts, which arrive on a tiered silver tray and feature flavors like lox and steak tartare. Make an evening of it: Head downstairs before or after your meal for cocktails in the living-room-esque Marvel Bar. If you’re in town in mid-August, don’t miss The Bachelor Farmer’s rendition of kräftskiva, a Swedish crayfish festival — it’s a fun event replete with local music, boozy snowcones (aquavit luge, anyone?), and of course crayfish.

Heyday; 2700 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review

With inventive food, funky style, and good cheer, this restaurant exemplifies the Lyndale-Lake neighborhood. Skillfully blending creativity and restraint, chef Jim Christiansen delivers interesting, high-quality, tasty creations. And the desserts are some of the most inventive and scrumptious the area has to offer.

Joshua Page / Heavy Table
Joshua Page / Heavy Table

Piccolo; 4300 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review

Combining non-traditional ingredients, flavors, and techniques, Chef Doug Flicker puts out unique, addictive fare. Take Piccolo’s signature dish, “Scrambled brown eggs with pickled pig’s feet, truffle butter and Parmigiano.” It may sound strange, but the flavors and textures work brilliantly. The five-course tasting menu ($59) is a great way to sample Flicker’s creations. This is the spot for adventurous, super high quality food in a casual atmosphere.

Restaurant Alma; 528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis | Our interview with chef / owner Alex Roberts

Well-executed, seasonally-driven three-course tasting menus are the name of the game here. There is almost nothing about Alma that’s flashy — in fact, it’s so unassuming you’ll probably drive right by. Sometimes a low-key, unpretentious evening of fine dining — one where you can hear your companion(s) talk, and hear yourself think — is just what the doctor ordered, and Alma’s the place to go. If you’re looking for something a bit more everyday, check out chef / owner Alex Roberts’ other restaurant, Brasa Premium Rotisserie, for a killer pork sandwich and yuca fries.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Saffron; 123 N 3rd St, Minneapolis | Our interview with Sameh Wadi

The smart new-Mediterranean food of Saffron combines Middle Eastern flavor with an cosmopolitan attention to detail and technique, and the result is some of the area’s most stunning food — both in terms of appearance and flavor. This is a place where you can have a beautifully crafted cocktail and journey somewhere new via the magic of a creative menu.

Broders’ Pasta Bar; 5000 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis | Our reflections on Broders’ Pasta Bar and reviews of Terzo Vino Bar and Porchetteria

[Editors’ Note: Broders is less expensive than the other restaurants in this category, but meals at Terzo tend to fall into “splurge” territory.]
Broders’ consistently kicks out perfectly cooked, seasonally sauced housemade pasta. Whether you’re snuggled with your sweetie at the bar with a couple glasses of wine and a piece of Bestia Nera flourless chocolate cake or at a table passing plates of pasta and risotto to share among friends, Broders’ knows how many of us at the Heavy Table like to eat — good, unpretentious food at reasonable prices, and a great wine list to boot. We’re also huge fans of the Broder family’s wine bar, Terzo, located across the street from the pasta bar. Porchetta sandwiches (also served through a window facing the parking lot during the day), thoughtful small plates, top-notch entrees (especially the branzino), and a wine program (that slants toward Northern Italy) are all dynamite.

Casual Eats

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Revival; 4257 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review

The little sibling of Corner Table (see above), Revival offers amazing Southern fare. It’s rightly known for fried chicken with exceptionally moist and tender meat and gorgeously crispy skin. But it’s not just a chicken joint. The cheeseburger is one of the best in the Twin Cities, and sides like fried green tomatoes, collard greens, and hush puppies are delicious. And if banana pie is on the menu, get it!

The Rabbit Hole; 920 E Lake St, Suite 101, Minneapolis | Our review

Looking for traditional Korean food? Head elsewhere. You won’t see the standard bulgogi / bibimbap / soondobu / japchae formula here. But if you’re craving a good, decidedly boozy drink and gastropub fare beyond the usual fried whatever, this place will be your jam. As a second-generation Korean-American hailing from LA, chef / owner Thomas Kim grew up with his mom’s cooking, but he draws from his experience working with Roy Choi and others to create his own spin on food. This results in things like kimchi-and-curry gravy-slathered poutine, truly addictive Brussels sprouts, and rice bowls loaded with things like soft-shell crab and habanero oyster sauce. Arrive early enough to explore the other shops in the Midtown Global Market, then lose track of time in one of the dark pojangmacha-styled booths and hang out late into the night.

Revival in South Minneapolis: A Roundtable

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

When the time came to write about Revival, the newly opened Corner Table spinoff that is selling itself on Tennessee hot- and Southern-style fried chicken, we found ourselves in an unexpected pickle: a solid half of our writing staff had thundered through the gates in order to form a first opinion.

So in lieu of a traditional review, we present a roundtable — four different perspectives on one of this year’s most anticipated new restaurants in Minnesota.

JAMES NORTON: Let’s start by focusing on food, which is kind of our tradition here. I’m a huge fried-chicken fan, and I’ve been making it myself for the past five years because I haven’t been satisfied with anything available around here. Are my frying days over? Is this the fried chicken that Minneapolis-St. Paul has been waiting for?

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

JOSHUA PAGE: It sure could be. The Southern fried variety is tender, and the coating has a fantastic crunch and isn’t the slightest bit greasy. So why the hedge, you ask? Because it was underseasoned. House-made sauce spiced it up, but it still needed salt. Actually, almost everything we sampled needed salt. And I was less impressed with the Tennessee Hot option because the coating wasn’t as crisp as I’d like, and the seasoning was unbalanced — a drizzle of vinegar sauce nearly did the trick, but I still had to reach for the salt shaker. So, with a few tweaks, this would be the fried chicken we’ve been waiting for.

TED HELD: Fried chicken fans are going to be happy. My favorite in town is Rooster’s on Randolph in St. Paul, so if you live in South Minneapolis, particularly in the surrounding neighborhoods, I think you’ll be thrilled. The fundamentals were there — juicy, toothsome meat, and crunchy breading, even with the Tennessee hot sauce.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

I loved the sauce options on the table. They were all great: the Revival sauce was sweet-potato based and Caribbean accented; the Carolina sauce was vinegar based; and then there was vinegar infused with bird’s-eye chili (a more Southern sounding name for Thai chili). I’d agree with Josh that the chicken was a little underspiced — it was almost like they left some blank flavor that you could fill in with the sauces.

PETER SIEVE: It’s damn fine fried chicken. Very moist, tender, and the exterior had the right amount of crunch / give. I didn’t find mine to be underseasoned, though I might have if the sauces hadn’t been there — I’m a sauce kind of guy. The more the merrier. And I found both the vinegar / black pepper and the jerk / habanero to be delicious.

The Tennessee Hot chicken was the big winner for me. For $7.50, the bang-for-the-buck factor of the two-piece Tennessee Hot rivals anything up and down Nicollet Avenue, both in terms of flavor and value. I found the exterior admirably crisp, despite the slather of hot sauce. My first impression was of a low, lovely, honey sweetness followed quickly by a deep and rolling spicy heat wave. The pickles garnishing the plate were appreciated foils to cut the heat down, as was the Texas toast.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

I really loved the hush puppies ($4). So light, when all too often they’re heavy, dense, and greasy. My favorite side of all, however, was the simplest: the Carolina Gold rice ($4), tossed in butter and scallions. As simple as it gets, but deeply comforting, and such a nice clean balance to the more intense bites around the table. A testament to these guys’ appreciation for a fine ingredient, and their smarts to let it stand on its own.

I walked away feeling like everything was a steal. The sides are all reasonably priced and generously sized, and the two-piece chicken is plenty for one person. I’m excited to go back to tackle some of the massive sandwiches I saw being delivered to other diners.

PAGE: I should note that the kitchen was understaffed when I was there, according to one of the servers who explained the very long wait for fried chicken. Understaffing may have contributed to the seasoning issues, which, as I noted previously, ran throughout the meal.

SIEVE: We had arrived just before the lunch rush on opening day, and things came out quickly and impressively executed. I’m guessing you are correct in your assertion that their understaffed-ness led to less than perfect chicken.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

HELD: I’ll split the difference there. We waited nearly 45 minutes for our food last Saturday at about 4 p.m., but the chicken was spot on. The restaurant was three-quarters full and we were offered no explanation. There seemed to be a lot of servers milling about, although ours didn’t drop by for a long time, likely because she couldn’t face my famished and pregnant wife with nothing to offer but water.

NORTON: Well, we’ve seen this before with numerous restaurants — a busy start followed by some service recalibration. I’m guessing they’ll bang this into shape in the near future.

Part of the plan for Revival seems to be complementing the haute-ier fare and atmosphere of Corner Table a la Alma and Brasa, or Saffron and World Street Kitchen. How do the two restaurants work in that respect?

SIEVE: In my mind, Revival is to Corner Table as Brasa is to Alma. And in that vein, I think Revival will succeed mightily: a menu that is laser-focused on a region / style, and doing it very well, for not much money.

Heavy Table Hot Five: Feb. 6-12

hotfive-flames

Each Friday afternoon, 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.

Joshua Page / Heavy Table
Joshua Page / Heavy Table

1-new - oneMiso-Braised Pork and Ginger-Garlic Slaw from Sassy Spoon
The newly opened Sassy Spoon’s signature dish is a wonderful balance of rich, soulful pork and bright, fresh cabbage and greens. It’s very satisfying and surprisingly light — no carbs, no problem.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Contributed by Joshua Page]

Crispy curried cauliflower, beluga lentils, sweet garlic, and chile sauce from Corner Table
Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

2-new - twoCrispy Curried Cauliflower from Corner Table
The curry-dusted cauliflower is crisp on the outside and tender, with a bite, on the inside. It sits on a disk of beluga lentils, which contribute their earthy goodness. A ring of brick-red sauce made from Korean kochukaru pepper, golden raisins, garlic, and vinegar provides a bright, sweet, hot, and smoky contrast. The sauce is topped with pickled mustard seeds that pop in your mouth. Micro cilantro adds a final visual and textural element. Dare we mention that the dish is vegan?
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Contributed by Jane Rosemarin]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

3-new - threeFennel Sausage Link from Black Sheep Pizza on Nicollet Ave
Black Sheep Pizza’s new location boasts a gorgeous grill operated by a bold metal wheel that brings food closer to or further away from the heat that pours up from below. We tried and loved the fennel sausage link starter — disarmingly light in texture and bright in flavor, but fire-charred and satisfying, complemented by pickled veggies and a scrap of bread.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Contributed by James Norton]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

4-new fourBarbecued Goat Tacos from La Huasteca
The Barbacoa de Chivo tacos at La Huasteca consist of big scoops of roasted goat with cilantro, onions, and chili sauce served on doubled-up corn tortillas with lime wedges on the side. In terms of quantity, the two tacos made for a solid $4 lunch. In terms of taste, the goat has the presence and emotional warmth of a pot roast — tender, rich, deeply flavored. This robust and comforting foundation is the perfect pedestal for bright notes of flavor like the acidic tang of lime juice, the crunch of fresh onions, and the heat of salsa. When you eat these tacos, you become happy.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #4 | Reviewed by James Norton]

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveCoconut Soup and Panang Curry with Fried Tofu at Thai Cafe
Another cold week equals more comfort food cravings! This time we stopped at Thai Cafe in Little Mekong to delight our bodies and souls with a spicy coconut soup and a panang curry with fried tofu. We didn’t go wrong: the fresh-ground spices and herbs were right on. Delicious, affordable and perfect for a quick bite during a busy day.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Contributed by Isabel Subtil]

Heggies, Mushroom Foraging, the Wage Hike and More

 

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

How Heggie’s Pizza Built a Regional Empire (here’s our Heggie’s profile). The Well Fed Guide to Life heads out to Origami Uptown (pictured; here’s our visit). How Blue Plate restaurants are working to pass the cost of the minimum wage hike onto their servers via your credit cards. A profile on mushroom foragers Kathy and Fred Yerich (who we met at Corner Table back in the day.) City Pages checks out Tongue in Cheek and notes the Travail/Rookery-like flourishes (here’s our recent review.)

Berglund, Boemer, and More

Crystal Liepa / Heavy Table
Crystal Liepa / Heavy Table

A visit to the Taste of India buffet in St. Louis Park. Andrew Zimmern grabs the reins of food service at the new Vikings stadium. Chefs Paul Berglund (of Bachelor Farmer) and Thomas Boemer (of Corner Table, above) are nominees in the Midwest category of Food & Wine Magazine’s People’s Best New Chef contest. And a look at Iowa bloggers’ hometown favorite meals.

Fitger’s Sochi Brews, a Big Wood Tap Room, and More

Pho Fawm at Hmong Village, St. Paul
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Fitger’s is doing a seven-beer series to celebrate the Sochi Olympics. A whole mess of renovation-related updates. Corner Table plans to expand to the old La Chaya space and spin off a Southern food joint featuring fried chicken. A guide to great local pho (pictured above: pho fawm from Hmong Village). Apparently there are people who still eat ice cream in this weather. Big Wood Brewery is poised to open a tap room in White Bear Lake.

 

Minnesota Cooks Day 2013 at the Minnesota State Fair

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Lake Avenue Restaurant Tilapia
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

To many Minnesotans there is no greater foodie attraction at the Minnesota State Fair than Minnesota Cooks Day. This year it was held on August 25th and was the 11th annual event, following the same great recipe as in years before — showcasing farm-fresh food grown and served right here in Minnesota.

The day is broken into six 45 minute cooking “shows”. For each show, chefs are paired with Minnesota farmers, using ingredients from these farms to create beautiful dishes for a tasting panel to enjoy. Not to leave out those who aren’t sitting on stage: samples are handed out for the audience to enjoy as well.

While the chefs cook, the tasting panel — made up of farmers and local celebrities — hold a lively discussion with hosts JD Fratzke (Executive Chef at The Strip Club Meat & Fish) and Mary Lahammer (Twin Cities Public Television). Topics range from local foods to social media’s role in farming.

If you missed the event, you can still get your Minnesota Cooks calendar, featuring recipes from the chefs — many of the dishes that were made at the Fair are included in the calendar. Calendars are free and are available at the Minnesota Farmers Union booth at the Minnesota State Fair or by requesting a calendar online.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Big River Pizza and Anodyne Coffeehouse
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Big River Pizza‘s Steve Lott and Bacon Jam Slam Breakfast Pizza; the 10am tasting panel included farmers from Braucher’s Sunshine Harvest Farm and Bossy Acres, Dorothy Freeman (4H Council) and Lori Sturdevant (Star Tribune); Helen Walden of Anodyne Coffeehouse plates her dish; Anodyne’s Chickpea Crepe with Bossy Acres Sprouts, Roasted Vegetables, and Goat Cheese.

Mary Lahammer hosts the morning shows for Minnesota Cooks 2013
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Mary Lahammer of Twin Cities Public Television hosted the afternoon segments of the event.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Lake Avenue Restaurant and Corner Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Lake Avenue Restaurant & Bar‘s Victus Farms Tilapia and Leaves; Chef Tony Beran of Lake Avenue Restaurant & Bar preps lettuce to be grilled; the 11am tasting panel included farmers from Two Pony Gardens and Victus Farms, Natalie Kelly (Twin Cities Local Food) and Paul Hugunin (MN Grown); Chef Thomas Boemer of Corner Table discusses heirloom tomatoes; Corner Table’s Heirloom Tomato Salad.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 The Gray House and Rainbow Cafe
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Chef Ian Gray of The Gray House; The Gray House’s Gnocchi with Singing Hills Goat Dairy Goat Ragu and Ground Cherry & Corn Relish; pork belly waiting to be plated by Rainbow Cafe; Rainbow Cafe’s Heirloom Tomato, Arugula & Basil Slider with Crispy Pork Belly; Greenleaf Gardens‘s Brian Peterson and his daughter Jenna with Jennifer Richards and Jeremy Olson of Rainbow Cafe.

2013 Jon Radle Award Winner Dick Trotter with Dan Hunter, Doug Peterson, Senator Franken and JD Fratzke
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Dan Hunter (Grand Cafe), Doug Peterson (President, Minnesota Farmers Union), Senator Al Franken, and JD Fratzke (The Strip Club) celebrate with Dick Trotter (Trotter’s Cafe). Dick is the 2013 Jon Radle Award Winner, recognizing a true pioneer and loyal commitment to furthering awareness and education around local foods and sustainable agriculture.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Harvest Thyme Bistro and Heidi's
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Acorn Ridge Farm Duck Confit from Harvest Thyme Bistro; Harvest Thyme Bistro’s Duck Confit with Wild Rice Salad; Heidi’s Tacos de Lengua; Mike Stine of StoneBridge Beef discusses local food.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Spanky's Stone Hearth and Trotter's Cafe
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Dick Trotter and Lisa Scribner of Trotter’s Cafe; Josh Hanson of Spanky’s Stone Hearth rolls Bunkowski Farm Lamb Meatballs; Moonlight Duo provided the afternoon entertainment between cooking segments; audience members at the Minnesota Cooks 2013 event.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Ngon Vietnamese Bistro and The Lynn on Bryant
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The Lynn on Bryant‘s Honey Mousse with Chilled Fruit Soup; The Lynn on Bryant’s Abby Boone plates her dessert; the 3pm tasting panel included farmers from The Beez Kneez Honey and Stone’s Throw Urban Farm, Don Shelby  and Senator Klobuchar; Hai Truong of Ngon Vietnamese Bistro plates his dish; Ngon Vietnamese Bistro’s Stone’s Throw Urban Farm Seasonal Salad.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Easy & Oskey and JD Fratzke
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Mocktail demo by Erik and James Eastman, featuring Easy & Oskey DIY Bitters; Easy & Oskey’s Apple & Pear Mocktail with Habanero Bitters; JD Fratzke hosted the afternoon segments of Minnesota Cooks 2013.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 at the Minnesota State Fair
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The Churn: Corner Table Reviewed and More

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Corner Table scores a great review in the Star Tribune (here’s our long-form interview with Chef Thomas Boemer and co-owner Nick Rancone). A Q&A with Chef Mike Rakun of the newly opening Marin and Mill Valley Kitchen. Andrew Zimmern has a (perfectly understandable, and very well put) thing about bad restaurant hospitality. And Pitchfork Brewing (and its tap room) is scheduled to open in July in Hudson.

The Churn: The Pig Breakdown and More

 

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Beer-booze cocktails rule at Mason’s Restaurant and Barre. The Well Fed Guide to Life heads off to Aster Cafe for a redux of a wind-besmirched episode. White Bear Lake will take a stab a creating the world’s largest sundae on June 20. French Meadow is expanding its Lyndale Avenue presence with a wine bar called Bluestem Bar + Table Prairie Kitchen and Bar [corrected:6/12/13]. And a look at whole hog butchery at Kitchen in the Market (pictured: the process of salting pork at Corner Table).