After all the hype about the opening of The Butcher Block, the new trattoria is now officially open. Located in the former Fugaise space in Northeast Minneapolis, the eatery has been touted for its new decor (some paint and a few pictures on the wall), diverse menu (sophisticated Italian plus 29 varieties of chicken wings) and passionate chef, Chef Darin Koch (formerly of I Nonni). The Heavy Table stopped by Saturday night to check it out.
The menu is undeniably exciting. Pastas ($13 to $14) such as the Pork Ragú, spaghetti smothered in a slow cooked braised pork ragú, and Rigatoncini alla Gricia, with guanciali, arugula, onion, and pecorino cheese, are enticing first courses, and secondis ($17) are an equally tempting assortment of lamb chops, steak, short ribs, and fish of the day. For diners interested in a more casual meal, there are several options for burgers and sandwiches.
Although the late night menu ($8) is not yet available (the waitress was unsure when it would debut), the options listed looked tasty with selections like the Tuna and Egg with Harissa, Pork Tonato (sliced pork with a creamy tuna sauce served with an egg), and the Fried Rice Omelet. The Butcher Block is open until 4am on weekends and 2am on weekdays, making it one of the few truly committed late-night games in town.
And, as promised, there are the 29 varieties of wings ($9 for 12 wings).
Traditional flavors such as BBQ, teriyaki, buffalo, and jerk coexist with other, more unusual offerings such as green coconut curry, cranberry chile, country fried, pesto / salsa verde, and cacciatore. Tempted by the array, we tried two varieties: the Mango Curry and the House.
Meaty and with crispy skin, these wings were fantastic. The mango curry featured a subtle mango and peanut undertone that reminded us of chicken satay. They had a moderate spice level that lingered lightly, but only until relieved with a quick sip of beer. As for the House wings, sesame and soy as the prominent flavors made these an immediate favorite. The existence of a number of similarly themed wings raises the question of how much overlap might exist between similar flavors, but the overall quality is indisputable.
As can be expected with a very recent opening, there were some tasting glitches — an otherwise inspired ravioli dish suffered from a crushing excess of mint — but, overall, The Butcher Block’s inspired menu lives up to the hype and promises great things to come.
The Butcher Block
308 E Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55414