The Heavy Table Reviews 2009: Part 2

2009reviewtopperThis is the second part of our magazine’s 2009 year-in-review feature. (View the first part over here).


Judd Spicer reports on a Wisconsin farm where clothes are optional (and exercises that option himself).

Katie Cannon samples the honey of Nature’s Nectar; meanwhile, Jason Walker gets the story on the long-time underground Iowa whiskey makers Templeton Rye.

Susan Pagani tells herb farmer Bonnie Dehn’s story with lavish detail, and Jill Lewis interviews producer David Page of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

And James Norton eats and writes about every course of the West Bank Social Center’s 100-Course Meal (while Becca Dilley provides heroic photography), before heading out to Black River Falls and having a beer at Sand Creek Brewing.

In the Churn: Bellanotte shuts down, the Oceanaire chain declares bankruptcy, Rustica plans to relocate, we stir up a ruckus by wondering whether a CEO’s politics have an impact on a food brand, a new Mississippi Market opens in St. Paul, and Azuki Sushi goes bust.


Jill Lewis checks out the sprawling company CSA garden of Haberman PR.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Anna of True Thai gets her portrait painted in words and photos by Susan Pagani and Katie Cannon.

James Norton and Becca Dilley trek deep into Wisconsin (Chilton, to be precise) to document the artisanal honey of Doug Schulz and Wisconsin Natural Acres.

High marks for Duluth’s ambitious new Takk for Maten and Kippis Tapas Bar from writer Eric Faust.

James Norton goes after the pro-European provincialism of I Nonni restaurant, starting with the beer list.

Emily Nystrom barnstorms the local chocolate ice cream scene with an extensive semi-scientific taste test that yields controversial results.

James Norton sits down with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, one of the most food-focused politicians in recent state history.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Heavy Table goes deep on its State Fair food coverage, sending a roving team to round up the best eats and Lori Writer to explore many, many breakfast options.

In the Churn: Paired and Snap both call it quits, Burger Jones dumps Liberty Custard, and kudos for a Heavy Table/ deal.


We profile baker Krista Steinbach, one of the area’s rising stars on the baking scene (pun intended).

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

James Norton and Becca Dilley head down to Callister Farm and sample some delicious Poulet Rouge chickens… while picnicking amid some slightly nervous Poulet Rouge chickens. Later, the couple heads up to the North Shore and interviews Sean Lewis of Nokomis.

Lori Writer explores some of the ins and outs of Somali cooking, contributing artist WACSO files a beautiful series of illustrations documenting Mac’s Diner, and Katie Cannon brings back photos and words from Gastro Non Grata’s Shitty Barn Party in Spring Green, WI.

In the Churn: Ginger Hop arrives, SweeTango apples debut, Ronin fights for its life, Whole Hog Heaven BBQ tosses in the towel, and Lyndale Tap House opens.


Tod Foley / Heavy Table
Tod Foley / Heavy Table

The Heavy Table launches its Minneapolis-St. Paul Atlas of Ethical Eating, a detailed if noncomprehensive look at the steps local businesses are taking to serve up sustainable, local, ethically sound food.

James Norton gives Lyndale Tap House low marks and touches off an unexpectedly passionate fury.

An epic profile of Paul Otten from Natura Farms, written by Susan Pagani.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon tries out an underground Wisconsin dining club and brings back some gorgeous photos.

Lori Writer roadtrips to scenic Grand Marais, Alyssa Vance explores the branding and management of the SweeTango apple, and Susan Pagani explores street food in the Cities.

Also: The Heavy Table kicks off its first annual Silver Whisk awards for Best Chef, Best Restaurant, and Best Purveyor.

In the Churn: The Craftsman makes the Washington Post, the new look of Ted Cook’s, Fulton Beer starts up, interesting thoughts about raw peanuts, a Shefzilla / Adam Platt dust-up, and Tejas calls it quits.


Angelique Chao heads down to Lorentz Meats to look at the nuts and bolts of a humane slaughter opearation.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Song Lee reveals the secrets of the Korean menu at St. Paul’s Lucky China and sings the praises of cha jang mein.

James Norton meets up with Matt Fisher of France 44 for a couple beers and the story of the store’s brew selection; he also interviews Sameh Wadi of Saffron about his Spice Trail line of spice blends.

Judd Spicer, an experienced hospitality detective, goes undercover at Barrio St. Paul.

Becca Dilley / The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin
Becca Dilley / The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin

And Jill Lewis interviews Heavy Tablers James Norton and Becca Dilley about their new book, The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin.

In the Churn: Hell’s Kitchen Duluth becomes HellBurgers, Agri says farewell, Bali shuts down, Nick and Eddie have an evil twin (should that be twins?) on Twitter, Premier Cheese wraps it up, Zen Asian Contemporary goes belly up, and Cafe Brenda closes.


Katie Cannon heads down to Iowa and explores artisan proscuitto making at La Quercia and Susan Pagani tells the story of Solveig Tofte of Sun Street Breads.

Alli Wade / Heavy Table
Alli Wade / Heavy Table

Alyssa Vance and photographer Alli Wade tour the foie gras-producing duck farm known as Au Bon Canard.

We review Drink This: Wine Made Simple by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl and Jill Lewis takes a tasty snapshot of the new Rustica location.

In the Churn: Koyi starts its move to Seward, local chef Sameh Wadi prepares to face down Iron Chef Morimoto, Salty Tart moves into the old Rustica space, and a $19K vintage Hamm’s bar goes on the market.

To our readers: Thanks for a wonderful 2009. We’re planning to hit the Upper Midwestern gastronomic scene with an equal or greater amount of force in 2010. And have a Happy New Year!


  1. Trout Caviar

    Heavy Table was my favorite website in 2009, hands down. You folks did a fantastic job, really changed the world of Twin Cities food journalism for the better. Thanks for all your fine work, and all best in 2010~ Brett

  2. Midwesterner

    Thanks for a year of interesting, enjoyable and unique articles and photos. Every aspect of the site adds to the experience – including the wonderful holiday-gingerbread frosted cutouts of states that you featured at the top of the page in December. You’ve enriched my understanding of how food arrives in the market and on the restaurant table.

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