The Tap: Beer and Sausages

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This week in the Tap: reflections on the primacy of beer and sausages in local cuisine, a look ahead at upcoming restaurants in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, notes about spots that have closed, and about those that have recently opened.

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

BEER AND SAUSAGES

I grew up in Wisconsin, so my connection to beer, bratwurst, and bratwurst boiled in beer and then consumed with beer is pretty close to elemental. It turns out that the sausage connection in heavily German-descended Minnesota is just as strong, and one of the most enjoyable things about the fine-food revolution of the past 10-or-so years has been watching plainspoken German food boom alongside fusion dishes and exotica from all over the world.

A recent visit to the newly opened Waldmann Brewery and Wurstery put a fine point on the brewery boom, and also called to mind quality sausage operations like Gerhard’s and Red Table (to say nothing of dozens of lesser known but also excellent country butcher shops and the stalwart and always excellent Kramarczuk’s). Waldmann’s sausages were good enough to eat without a bun (although the house mustards were certainly appreciated), and while the bratwurst and currywurst were both undoctored classic renditions (no gummi bears, for example), they were done with an attention to detail and quality that were noteworthy. It’s exciting to see new ventures putting out food that is both traditional and humble. If you build a regional cuisine on heartfelt renditions of simple foods, you can eventually stack a tower up to the (Michelin) stars.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Equally great at Waldmann: the stellar, malty but not syrupy Oktoberfest beer on tap. And that’s my transition to the idea that late September through early October is an absolutely absurd time to try to write about beer around here. Between Märzens, big special releases (like Darkness), and all the fresh-hopped stuff coming out, it’s truly harvest season in the beer world. I’ve been beset with beers to taste and write about, and I’ve been mostly floundering, but here’s a quick pass at a few noteworthy sips.

James Norton / Heavy Table

Lift Bridge puts an emphasis on quick travel time between hop vine and brew kettle, and that comes through in the light, piney, almost perfumed and grassy notes of the clear and delicate Harvestör fresh hop pale ale (6 percent ABV, 50 IBU). Like a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau, the bottle stokes your enthusiasm in part because you know its contents are ephemeral. Pop it open, enjoy it with friends, and wait another year for it to come back again.

James Norton / Heavy Table

The glass of Surly Wet Hopped West-Coast IPA (6.1 percent ABV, 90 IBU) that we tried at Pizzeria Lola gave the evening’s special (a pizza topped with carnitas, corn, and Hatch peppers) a run for its money, and that’s not easy — the pizza was one of the best we’ve had all year. Wet is more dank and funky than Harvestör (or most of its fresh-hopped colleagues) with a bit of bite up front and more of a malt presence. It’s got an almost chewy richness, but there’s still a clear, stone-fruity/almondlike note at the back that’s irresistible. We liked the stuff at Lola more than the Wet we tried in cans. Both were good, but the draft stuff tasted even lighter and more ephemeral.

Fair State’s IPA is now available in strikingly designed, brightly colored cans. They’re the ideal vessels for the beer within, which is also bold, but cunningly designed. This juicy, floral IPA is almost more aroma than beer. It practically floats out of the glass into your face, suffusing your senses with flowers. On your tongue and on the way down it offers a substantial but balanced stone-fruit bite that leaves a lingering, pleasant bitterness that is chased away with every subsequent sip. IPAs can be blunt instruments. This one is subtle and lovely without being underpowered or one-note.

James Norton / Heavy Table

And on another note entirely: Indeed’s Rum King (10.5 percent ABV, 55 IBU), which is an imperial stout aged in rum barrels. I’ve been taking care of a 4-year-old for the past four days, so when at the end of Saturday night I had a Rum King waiting for me, it was less “a beer” than “a cocktail passport to a 90-minute trip to a world of tropical adventure.” It’s a beer so thick and sweet and boozy and fruity that it could comfortable pass as a well-mixed cocktail at a tiki bar (although those tend toward the light rums accented by tropical and other citrus fruit, and this one is all molasses, raisins, and vanilla). Like Darkness (and others of its ilk), Rum King is an experience — you can kick your feet up, fire up Bojack Horseman, and check out from all your cares for a little while. It’s pretty much magic poured out of a can. It’s also pretty much the opposite of Harvestör, so prepare yourself for emotional whiplash if you taste them both in one evening. How are both of these liquids called “beer”?

NOW OPEN:

  • NOLO’s Kitchen and Bar and The Basement Bar, 515 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis
  • Twin Cities 400 Tavern, 1330 Industrial Blvd. NE, Minneapolis | A new collaboration between Scalzo Hospitality and Parasole.
  • Five Watt Northeast, 861 E Hennepin Ave | A second location for the popular Eat Street coffeehouse and roastery, including an expanded food menu. As featured in the Hot Five.
  • Rebel Donut Bar, 1226 2nd St NE, Minneapolis | More action within the “fancy doughnut” sphere, but in this case miniaturized.
  • The Market House Collaborative, 289 5th St E, St Paul | Now open: OctoFish Bar. As per the Shea designers: “The space will include a seafood market, a casual seafood restaurant, a boutique butcher shop, and a bakery, and we can’t wait to kick off.” Vendors are reported to include The Salty Tart bakery, a Peterson Meats full-service butcher shop, Almanac Fish Market, and the OctoFish Bar on the casual seafood restaurant side of things.

James Norton / Heavy Table

Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table

  • Bardo, 222 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | A new “modern American bistro” in the old Rachel’s spot in Northeast, with chef/owner Remy Pettus. Our review of the cocktail program.

CLOSED / CLOSING:

  • Lucia’s

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

  • Puperseria la Palmera (reopening as a Hamburguesas el Gordo) Our visit to Pupuseria la Palmera here; our visit to the Payne Avenue Hamburguesas el Gordo reviewed here.
  • Obento-Ya (will be replaced with a second Ramen Kazama location).
  • Triple Rock Social Club (closing Nov. 22 – details here)
  • Pepitos (up for sale, likely to close).
  • Golden’s Deli

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

  • St. Clair Broiler

COMING UP:

Minneapolis

  • Popol Vuh and Centro | Fall | A two-restaurants-in-one (a la Birdie and Nighthawks) high-concept/street-food purveyor with a Mexican emphasis. From the team behind the successful Lyn65 in Richfield.
  • Moon Palace Books, 3032 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis | Early winter | The current bookstore is moving two blocks and will offer beer, wine, and food.
  • Martina, 4312 Upton Ave S, Minneapolis | October | The former Upton 43 space will become an Argentine- and Italian-inspired spot by Daniel del Prado, formerly of Burch.
  • Diamond BBQ, 5400 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis | End of 2017 | Barbecue, escargot, beef tartare, and more, also by Daniel del Prado.
  • The Sioux Chef Restaurant at Water Works | 2019
  • Sift Gluten-Free Bakery, 4557 Bloomington Ave, Minneapolis | October
  • Book Club, 5411 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis | Fall | A Kim Bartmann California fusion eatery, helmed by Asher Miller, in the former Cafe Maude space.
  • Hai Hai, 2121 University Ave NE, Minneapolis | Fall | New Southeast Asian restaurant at the former Double Deuce location by the team behind Hola Arepa.
  • Minnesota Barbecue Company, 816 Lowry Ave NE, Minneapolis | 2017 | A Kansas-City-style barbecue place to be led by Chef Kale Thome of the Travail team (and a Kansas native). Doing pop-ups around town until the official opening.
  • Great Northern Smokehouse, 3238 W Lake St, Minneapolis | 2017 | Another barbecue spot in the former Falafel King on Lake and Lyndale.
  • Funky Grits, 805 E 38th St, Minneapolis | Fall | A soul food spot in the home of the short-lived Hell’s Chicken and Fish.
  • Malcolm Yards Market, 501 30th Ave SE, Minneapolis | 2018 | A food market that will capitalize on its proximity to Surly’s massive brewery/restaurant complex.

St. Paul

  • Eureka Compass Vegan Food, 629 Aldine St, St. Paul | 2017 | Now open a few day each week for lunch and dinner in the space the owners will renovate now that their Kickstarter campaign has succeeded.
  • Keg and Case revitalization of the Schmidt Brewery, 928 W 7th St, St. Paul | 2018 | Featuring restaurants by the teams behind Corner Table, and Five Watt, plus Sweet Science ice cream.

Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond

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 the Heavy Table. If you have tips for The Tap, please email James Norton at editor@heavytable.com.

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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3 Comments

  1. KTFoley 10/17/2017

    Wait, what? Triple Rock? What’s the story there?