Chef Scott Hill uses six different sweeteners in his cabbage borscht at the Crossroads Deli in Minnetonka. He wouldn’t say what they were, nor would he share the recipe. It’s hard to blame him, since the slightly sweet, stew-chunky, beet-free but cabbage-and-beef-heavy soup is impossible to resist, and it’s the slight aftertaste of sweetness that makes it irresistible. Whether it’s maple syrup, brown sugar, molasses, honey, white sugar, Sweet’N Low… the mind is boggled at six sweeteners.
The cabbage borscht is the standout item in a vast, varied menu that combines classic Jewish deli food with homestyle American comfort food. Many would probably dispute beatification of this borscht over the most popular soup at Crossroads, Matzo Ball. Those two, and a decadent Cream of Tomato Basil, are on the menu every day, in addition to a daily special (Tuesdays, for example, feature a bean soup with Kosher franks).
The Crossroads has breakfast, appetizers, burgers, salads, sandwiches, and dinners such as broasted chicken, cabbage rolls, Hungarian goulash, and baby back ribs. It’s a menu that could be a red flag — often, a chain-restaurant-style, something-for-everyone menu means mediocre food with no standouts (see: Chatterbox Pub on France). But no, the Crossroads is pleasingly consistent. It even has a full bar, probably necessary to make Bloody Marys for its mega-popular Sunday brunch.
A quick aside for deli purists: Don’t go to Crossroads expecting the Carnegie; you’ll be disappointed. It’s not that kind of atmosphere. The ambiance and decor at Crossroads is sort of a cross between Pearson’s Edina and Perkins. Service, though, is institutionally solid.
Crossroads also is a full-service bakery, with tower cakes, cookies, baklava, and fresh loaves. You can get a bourbon-and-water, bowl of borscht, and chopped chicken livers, then take home a slice of lemon cake and a loaf of rye. What a way to spend a Monday afternoon, eh? Another huge plus is the basket of fresh bread, dill slices, and beet pickles free to every table.
Back to the borscht. When Crossroads opened 13 years ago, it drew a crowd of regulars, much like today. One was a local doctor, who asked Hill to put borscht on the menu. Hill said, “I’m working on one, but haven’t got it quite right.” The good doctor came back with his family borscht recipe. Hill cooked some up, loved it, and started giving it to regulars to sample. Everyone weighed in (Opinions? In a deli?), and Hill tweaked until he landed on the goodness he serves today. A group effort, but “Dr. Stu” is credited on the menu. Thanks, doc.
BEST BETS: Get the soup. And the lemon cake, even if you’re stuffed and have to take it to go.
Deli in Minnetonka
2795 Hedberg Dr
Minnetonka, MN 55305
CHEF: Scott Hill
Brunch 9am-2pm Sundays
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $8-$19