It’s either a surge of joy or pangs of regret. It’s that feeling when you see a plate leave a kitchen destined for another table. You’ve already ordered, and there it goes. It’s so beautiful. Depending on whether or not it’s what you’ve ordered, your night has just taken a turn.
That’s why it’s our strategy to take up a bar seat near the kitchen and scan the trays as they emerge. That’s how we happened upon the beef tartare ($11) at Tongue In Cheek. We’d been sitting at the bar, taking cocktail photos (Issue 15 spoiler!) when we saw it delivered to a hightop behind us. The block of pink salt was glistening as the diners dragged chunks of tartare on to potato chips.
We received our own portion and realized the genius of the presentation. Besides just looking pretty, which it certainly does, it’s customizable. The tartare itself is under-seasoned, so it’s up to the diner to mash it against the block to pick up some salt. One good swipe with a knife imparts a pleasant tang. Two or three makes it extra piquant. And just like the lamb tartare at Heyday (which is currently the Teddy Roosevelt on our Mount Rushmore of local tartare) it’s the addition of crunchy, fried chips that makes for the perfect textural and flavor contrast.
If you’re there during happy hour, make sure to accompany your snacks with one of their $2 mini-cocktails. The tartare works great with the Cross Eyed Mary – a remarkable infusion of gin with bloody mary spices.
Tongue In Cheek, 989 Payne Ave. St. Paul, 651.888.6148.