After the double-bill that covered October 2018-March 2019 here is a regular top 5 list for the second quarter of 2019. I was out of town for a week in here too but we ate out quite regularly in the Twin Cities in the last three months (and have already gone out to eat once since i got back) and so I have no difficulty filling out this list. We ate at a number of highly regarded new(er) Minneapolis restaurants in this period and they show up in this list, as does the St. Paul branch of a Minneapolis favourite and a somewhat unusual residency at Cook St. Paul. Together they span a range of cuisines, genres and price-points. And they provide more evidence I think of the diversity and growing vibrancy of the Twin Cities’ dining scene, as recently celebrated by Rick Nelson in the Star-Tribune. Okay, let’s get to it.
As per usual in reverse chronological order of eating the dishes are:
- Mapo Tofu at the Golden Horseshoe residency at Cook St. Paul. We only ate here on Friday night. There’s been very little talk about Golden Horseshoe in the local food press as far as I can tell. If not for the recommendation by Jim Grinsfelder elsewhere on the blog I probably would not even have heard of it. Which would have been a terrible shame. I’ll have more details about the meal in my full review next week but I can tell you that the mapo tofu on their (currently) short menu is the best version in the Twin Cities. It has the depth and funk from fermented black beans that is missing even from the very good version at our old favourite, Grand Szechuan. My review next week will, I hope, give you reasons to go check them out next weekend and if you do you should certainly get the mapo tofu.
- Southern Fried Chicken at Revival, St. Paul. It took us a long time to get to any location of Revival but I’m glad we finally made it. We enjoyed all aspects of our meal—including not having to wait for a table—but the basic Southern Fried Chicken may have been the highlight. Boring, I know. Full meal review here.
- Chuleta at Popol Vuh. There were a number of candidates from this meal. I vacillated between this and the costilla but in the end this massive pork chop on a pool of huaxmole won out. I recommend it highly. Full meal review here.
- Pork Ribs Adobo at Hai Hai. This was the dish we liked so much we got a second order in as soon as we tasted it. Perfectly cooked ribs in a rich livery sauce, I could go for another plate of this very soon. Full meal review here.
- Roast Chicken with Bacon Aigre Doux, Sweet Corn and Braised Bacon at Grand Cafe. Here is your fine dining entry. Our dinner at Grand Cafe in April was very strong all around but I think all four of us may have had this as our consensus dish of the night. I hope it’ll still be on the menu whenever it is we make it back. Full meal review here.
Here is the requisite slideshow of the dishes. Scroll down to see what the honourable mentions were and also for a shout-out to some nice cocktails.
I will also acknowledge a couple of also-rans: the surprisingly excellent gajar/carrot halwa at the lunch buffet at Surabhi and the brisket at Handsome Hog. And a couple of cocktails I really enjoyed: the very silly Ric Flair (also at Handsome Hog) and Drink of the Wild at Popol Vuh.
Okay, up next from the Twin Cities: a full review of Golden Horseshoe. And we’re scheduled to finally eat at Young Joni next week as well. After that we’re going up to the North Shore for the better part of a week—if you have any recommendations for lunch spots in Duluth without going too far out of the way from the road to Lutsen/Grand Marais, or for places to eat at in Grand Marais (I’m told World’s Best Doughnuts lives up to its name), please let me have ’em!