We head straight for the salmon gravlax with horseradish and avocado. There’s an endearing creaminess, and the addition of salmon roe casts a terrific textural contrast. We move on to a scallop crudo—basically an herbal-tasting ceviche with wasabi, granny smith apple, and fried garlic. It’s gone in mere moments. We can’t help it. We’re six cocktails deep at this point.
Then the Berries & Bubbly throws us a curveball. A strawberry sphere, “like a house-made Gusher” as Anderson describes it, rests at the bottom of a cocktail glass filled with ginger simple syrup and champagne. So weird, so tasty, and it’s basically an extra cocktail to boot.
We move on to a pair of cubes. First, torched feta cheese with a smoked sweet corn coulis, dill, and radish. Second, pressed watermelon vacuum-packed with ginger syrup, topped with tiny blue cheese crumbles, and ending with a pronounced balsamic vinegar tang.
Finally, the best seller—braised pork belly with sesame aioli, sriracha, sesame seed, and crushed peanuts. The idea of eating only one of these is pure lunacy.
“We’re relatively new, and we’re doing high-end food, more refined than the area is used to,” says Ashleigh Newman. “But then look what’s around—Cook St. Paul, Ward 6, Strip Club—people are really starting to get what we’re doing.”
She’s eating a terrific looking goat cheese risotto that Anderson introduced at W.A. Frost back when he was executive chef. It’s still on Frost’s menu to this day. Huseby gives us a taste of the Posca Rustica Gruit from among his unique beer selection. Then we see a rectangle of beef tartare appear on a pink salt block with potato chips and immediately realize we need one of our own.
Spending $10–12 dollars for a craft cocktail in the Twin Cities is becoming ever more common. So downing a line of six small ones for the same price feels positively princely. Newman reports that a majority of customers begin their meal with one (or likely more) of the small bites or sips.
“People order them thinking they’re going to share,” she says. “But they usually end up ordering more.” She’s read our minds. We need one more Cross Eyed Mary to accompany the last bites of tartare.
13 Taco al Pastor at Taqueria La Hacienda
$1.85 for the finest taco on Lake Street could potentially be the best food value to be found anywhere in the Metro.
14 Puppy Dog Tail at Isles Bun and Coffee
What could possibly be better than starting the day with a cinnamon-laced, icing-bedecked twisted string of doughy heaven? The fact that one of these plus a black coffee will set you back less than you latte at Starbucks.
15 Scones at Allie’s Deli and Catering
Allie’s could be the Minneapolis skyway spot that combines the highest traffic with the least amount of general buzz. Their scones are cult favorites—baked fresh daily in multiple varieties, they’re more a crumbly muffin-top than your crusty English hockey puck variety and always piping hot on the counter.
16 Skewer of The Day at Terzo Vino Bar
Would you like a bite of juicy, salty meat on a stick with your glass of Sangiovese? Yes. But for a buck apiece, make it two.
17 1/4 lb. of Char Siu Pork at Unideli
The best way to wait for your ramen or bibimbap to come steaming out of United Noodle’s deli is to savor a few slices of their barbecue pork. With a sweet char and just the right amount of fatty cap, we’ve even ordered a few just to munch as we browse the aisles.
18 Pork Belly Steamed Bun at Masu Sushi & Robata
Okay, this one’s technically $2.50 on happy hour. But, seriously, a gorgeous slab of pork belly, with hoisin and house pickles in a pillow-soft steamed bun for that cheap? Masu needs to open a bao bun shop in the skyways immediately.
19 Meat Pie at Emily’s Lebanese Deli
Another $2.50 item, but you’ll happily fork over the extra quarters for a rich, crispy triangle of ground lamb, onions and pine nuts. Hell, the pine nuts alone would probably cost $2.50 at Lunds.
20 Happy Hour Tecate at Nico’s Tacos
We’re still pretty bummed about Birdhouse closing. But at least we can drown our sorrows in some cheap Mexican lager on the patio.
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