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 email@example.com.
The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.
Pastrami from the Herbivorous Butcher
We’re big fans of pastrami, so we weren’t sure the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, tomato juice, agar agar, soy sauce, and spices vegan “pastrami” from the soon-to-open Herbivorous Butcher would cut the literal or figurative mustard. By golly, it really did — although it lacks the unctuous fattiness of its meaty cousin, the spice balance was on point and it was able to evoke a pastrami on rye without any of that “oh, man, so close but so far” disappointment. We would certainly prefer this stuff to the less-inspired meat pastramis we’ve had over the years. The butcher shop’s grand opening is Jan. 23, and we’re looking forward to seeing its brother-sister team lead the region in some exciting new culinary directions.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]
Breakfast Gnocchi at Co-op Creamery Cafe
The Breakfast Gnocchi from Co-op Creamery Cafe is a lovely mixture of textures and flavors, from the pillowy gnocchi to the crispy onions, to the mild egg yolk against the puckery pickled shallots. The perfect way to get an optimistic start to the day.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]
Pork Sausage Banh Mi at Tay Ho
There’s an awful lot to like about the earthy, soulful food at the criminally underappreciated Tay Ho in St. Paul (hint: order the Bun Bo Hue, the spicy noodle soup), but this banh mi may well take the cake. At $3, it would be absurdly cheap even if it were small and of low quality. It’s not, and it isn’t — the baguette is delightfully crackly and soft without being insipid, the sausage is ably spiced but doesn’t overpower the sandwich as a whole, and the mix of pickled veg and cilantro is wonderfully balanced. Plus, it’s big.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #1 | Submitted by James Norton from the upcoming debut of the Green Line Checklist]
Sour Pork Ribs from Thai Cafe
Almost peanut-brittle chewy and crackly, fatty and rich, and sour almost beyond human comprehension, these pork ribs will divide a table down the middle between those who are angry that the ribs were ordered and those who will obsess about them until returning a week or two later to eat them again. If you’re looking for a really bold taste of Thai food, uncompromised and gloriously real, here’s the dish for you.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #4 | Submitted by James Norton from the upcoming debut of the Green Line Checklist]
Dank IPA from Insight Brewing
Released on January 13, the Dank IPA is part of Insight’s “Brewmaster’s Vault” series. A West Coast style IPA that lives up to its name, the “hoppiest beer they’ve ever made” has an early hop punch, and overall is so resiny that it gives you marijuana breath. But after a few sips the hops dull to a low pummel and a peppery finish. 6.5 percent ABV, 91 IBU. Available only at the taproom until Feb. 27.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Liz Scholz]