Minneapolis: A food and Bourbon town where I least expected it

Just this past week I flew out to Minneapolis for a work conference with several co-workers. Before I go to any new city, whether for work or pleasure, I always do research on restaurants, bars, and other places I must checkout before I hit the road. While this was a work trip, my preparation was no different. Another co-worker, not on the trip, is from the twin cities, so I took his suggestions, checked out Yelp, Urbanspoon, Zagat, etc. to compile my list.

Night 1:
The day before our conference began, I led the dinner charge a little bit outside the downtown Minneapolis area, despite some of the concerned comments of my co-workers. Tonight’s dinner stop: The Butcher and the Boar, a new restaurant in Minneapolis, featuring dozens of beers on tap, an even loner list of liquors, mostly bourbon, and delicious house made sausages, steaks and other creations. Upon entering and grabbing seats at the bar, my dining companions seemed to have changed their tune and when the food arrived, there was high praise all around — for the food, and my discovery of this new Minneapolis gem. The staff was super friendly, offering up advice on their long bourbon list (for the record, W. L. Wellers Reserve is smooth as silk) and for the food.

Butcher and the Boar Top Dishes:

  • Fish of the Month (August – Red Snapper, and its HUGE)
  • Green Chile Chorizo Sausage with Slow Cooked Egg and Black Bean Mole – Has a kick
  • Cedar Plank Mushrooms
  • Smothered Greens  – included is 4 pounds of butter
  • Berkshire Pork and Cheddar Sausage w/ Rye and Hard Cider Sauce and Broccoli

Night 2:
With one night of delicious food under our belt, and in our stomachs, the first full conference day got us hungry. After the previous night, I had built up a little trust that I could lead us to the best food in town. This night, we headed to the Warehouse District for a meal at the Haute Dish. The restaurant had amazing reviews no matter where you looked and just about every dish on the menu sounded like a winner. The dishes here took ordinary classics, like pork and beans and elevated them to another level. Like every other place we’d been in the Minneapolis, the bourbon and beer list was long, almost too long. Our friendly waitress provided some insight on the most popular dishes, and literally everything I ordered or tried was incredible. If this place was transported to NYC, there would be hour waits every single night.

The building itself is also awesome. The building is 110 years old and that entire time the space had been either a saloon or a restaurant.

HauteDish – What to order

  • Mac and Cheese – 2nd most popular dish. Wide noodles with King crab, tellegio cheese and truffle, topped with herbs and bits of bread crumb. Get this dish
  • Pork and Beans – A skillet filled with incredible pinto beans and crispy pork belly topped with housemade potato chips. Per the menu: “Not from a can.”
  • General Tso’s Sweetbreads – foie gras fried rice, small piece of foie gras on top.
  • BBQ Plate – Pork 3 ways, deconstructed cole slaw

It’s a shame we were all too full from the meal to try the desserts, which the Chef makes himself, no pastry chef needed.

Night 3:
I could have led our group to the seediest part of town and I think they’d have trusted I’d find the greatest restaurant of all time. The last restaurant on my list was the Bachelor Farmer, which apparently served President Obama. I know Obama likes great food, so if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me. Without a reservation, we descended upon the restaurant along the Mississippi River but were informed it was be a 2 hour wait. While we contemplated where we’d eat instead, we went around the back of the restaurant, through a shady door, through another door into an amazing speak easy nestled under the restaurant called Marvel Bar. The cocktails here were a thing of beauty, but we opted to move on somewhere else for dinner.

With Murray’s Restaurant closed, we stopped into Ike’s, a Minneapolis staple for decades. Ike’s has classic dishes and new strange combinations. You can get Chicken cordon blue, 16 ounce steaks, lobster corn dogs and much more. The food here may not have been as interesting as the previous 2 nights, but the meal left everyone satisfied.

Ike’s – What to get

  • Horseraddish Crusted Salmon
  • Basic Side Salad – yes, I’m serious. It comes with most entrees and the dressing are all house madd
  • Sirloin Chili
  • Chicken Piccata – enormous amount of pasta and 3 breasts of chicken. I dare you to finish it
  • Chicken cordon blue – stuffed with asparagus, ham and cheese. Again, I dare you to finish this too
  • Bloody Mary – one of the best around

 

While I can’t completely say whether or not Minneapolis had been a foodie and bourbon drinkers haven a few years ago,but it sure has become one. Assuming these restaurants we tried remain popular and strive, I see no reason that more chefs will follow suit and open in the twin cities. The town is filled with solid Irish and British pubs, including the Brit, which has lawn bowling on the roof and plenty of more upscale bars. Of them all, the Brit is a great time as is the Shout House, dueling Piano Bar. I guarentee that you will not leave this bar unsatisfied. The players are great musicians and put on a great show with plenty of jokes and humor.

I honestly never would have guessed that Minneapolis would have had so many great places to eat, so many fun bars and such friendly people. If you are in the area or passing through, don’t miss these places and if you have one night, eat at the Haute Dish!!!

About Evan Halperin

I like to eat. I like to cook. I like to eat what I cook. Now, I will share with you what I like to cook. My wife and I may be a vegetarian and a carnivore, but it doesn’t mean we can’t cook a nice meal with both, without compromising taste. I will share my creative meals of the Carnivore and the Vegetarian.
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3 Responses to Minneapolis: A food and Bourbon town where I least expected it

  1. Eden Center says:

    Very nice information!
    I am really interested in King crab :)

  2. Jean says:

    too bad you did not get into the neighborhoods where there are some great incredibly affordable Vietnamese restaurants. Next time check out QUANG in South Mpls.

  3. If I had a rental car, I surely would have. Vietnamese food is my favorite.

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