Opening only a few short months ago and receiving critical acclaim from several of the big name reviewers locally, I really wanted to get into Minneapolis’ hottest new restaurant, the Butcher & The Boar. With reservations scarce even from the get go, some say artificially so, I decided in early April to make a reservation for Father’s Day to try it out. With us hitting both Fogo De Chao and a second and less exciting visit to my beloved Corner Table on Father’s Day already, I was really looking forward to being wowed for a third time on this important day.
We arrived for our 5 PM reservations and found others waiting at the door to get in. We were eventually seated in what I argue is one of the worst spots in the restaurant, a grouping of tables right near the front entrance. While we didn’t complain, a foursome who arrived around 6 PM refused to sit there and were quickly moved to another table in the middle of the space.
The restaurant itself is beautiful. While some online reviews have noted it is dark and dreary, I found the space to be gorgeous and full of deep colored woods and copper tones. The copper accents, including the more than 300,000 pennies encased in the flooring, were highlighted with several dark copper colored bourbon bottles adorning the bar. The wall of windows at the rear of the restaurant which overlooked the ample and gorgeous patio were adequately illuminating the restaurant during our visit but I could certainly understand if others, visiting in the dark days of the Minnesota winter/spring, may have had a different experience.
While her shift had just begun, as the restaurant only opens at 5 PM daily, the server bounded over to us with an energy I rarely see and continued to keep it up throughout or meal. She offered us their extensive bourbon and craft beer list, which I was uninterested in, and went over their meat lovers dream menu to note it was created with sharing in mind. She suggested several “for the table” items, ones we had already planned to order long before arriving. She gave us a few more minutes to choose some sides and later came back to take our orders.
While online reviews rave about the Tabasco-Molasses Smoked Beef Long Rib, a $32 monstrosity which was delivered to numerous tables around us, including to a single woman dining in the corner by herself while reading a book and eating a MASSIVE amount of food for her physical size, we had a completely different culinary journey in mind. We ordered the Wood Grilled Oysters ($11) and Fried Green Tomatoes ($8) to start, their $18 house-cured charcuterie plate, and finally the $30 sausage sampler platter. We figured that while this in no way tackled the entire menu, it would provide an excellent cross-section and one helluva meal.
The Oysters and Fried Green Tomatoes were out first as instructed. The Oysters, being grilled, delightfully light and while little difference exists between these and your run of the mill raw oysters, I thoroughly enjoyed them as I would any other oyster I’ve ever had. With four large ones of unknown original is more expensive than the $2.50/piece I paid at Copper River Fish and Chop in Lakeville, these were far better and and more enjoyable. While good, overall they were unforgettable compared to the rest of the items we sampled during my Father’s Day dining extravaganza.
While I have always raved about the Fried Green Tomatoes at the Minnesota State Fair, the ones we were served at the Butcher & The Boar have claimed tops in my book. The Fried Green Tomates were light and crispy on the outside and meaty and gorgeous on the inside. Rather than tasting oil and a mushy tomato texture, these were as decadent as a breaded and fried slab of tomato could get. While the sauce accompanying the tomatoes was nice and worked well, I really wanted to slum it and dip these in some ranch to catapult me right to the fondest memories I have of all of the best fried green tomatoes I’ve ever had.
After a short wait the house-cured meats arrived with a stack of rye crisps alongside. We received Pickled Heart Marcella, Venison Summer Sausage, Turkey Braunschweiger, and Wild Boar Head Cheese. These were accompanied with a cute and light radish salad, a porcini compote, onion jam, and housemade grainy mustard and pickles.
While I generally dislike organs in general, the Pickled Heart Marcella (pictured above) was excellent. Tart and flavorful, although a bit dry, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the item. The Venison Summer Sausage was thin and light and worked quite well with the porcini however, like any summer sausage, it was a little on the greasy side for me. The Turkey Braunschweiger was a large portion of turkey liverwurst topped with what I believe is chicken fat and black truffles and is absolutely heavenly to spread and enjoy alongside the onion jam which together makes for a smokey and enjoyable treat. The Boar Head Cheese was some of the best head cheese I’ve ever had. While most head cheese is greasy but flavorful, this rendition was light and flavorful but somehow avoided the grease and when coupled with both the mustard and pickles it was as if I were eating one of the best sandwiches on the planet one little tiny bite at a time.
Overall I was completely and thoroughly impressed with the Butcher and the Boar’s play on a charcuterie plate. It was exciting, offered us several different spins on more traditional items, and gave a nice taste of the accompanying items as well as the stars themselves.
The Sausage Sampler arrived last after a bit of a welcome wait. It included a Texas Beef Link, Wild Boar Hot Link, Berkshire Pork and Cheddar with pickled vegetables and tortilla slaw. I was honestly impressed at the size of the pickled veggies and slaw and was glad they were there since we chose to order sides as an appetizer instead of with our meal. While in hindsight this may not have been a good idea had they not delivered the platter with the sides, it worked out just fine for us.
The Texas Beef Link is a BBQ lovers dream. Served with a spicy four chili BBQ sauce, I was ready to devour the entire link without giving any to The Wife for the heat alone. The tortilla slaw was light and flavorful, although loaded with cilantro much to The Wife’s displeasure, and offered a cooling respite from the heat of the links and sauce. Overall I highly recommend this one to anyone, especially the chiliheads out there.
The Wild Boar Hot Link was served alongside some very spicy pickled vegetables. It was flavorful and, as The Wife noted, different in texture from any other sausage we’d ever had. Grainy and dry, this was one very excellent piece of meat. While I loved the Butcher & The Boar’s play on giardiniera, when taken alongside the Texas Beef Link’s four chili BBQ sauce, I have to admit my mouth was on fire–something which I would be surprised if the majority of Minnesotans can truly appreciate like I can.
The Berkshire Pork and Cheddar Sausage was quite nice. Stuffed full of melted cheese and served atop their housemade mustard, The Wife declared this one her favorite. I also really liked it, especially with the mustard but with so many other choices on the plate it ended up being the one that was mostly boxed up to go home to have later.
Dessert was a Rhubarb Shortcake ($8) which included rhubarb, caramel sauce, soft cream and basil. The shortcakes were dense but somehow light and the rhubarb was tart and wonderful as rhubarb generally is. However the caramel, cream and basil just didn’t pull it together as they should have. In fact, I couldn’t taste the basil at all which may have helped to mellow out the tartness of the rhubarb and then the overdone sweetness of the cream and caramel. Overall the dessert, while a HUGE portion for $8, was a big pass for me.
However, all was not lost on dessert as the decaf I ordered was impressively good. The Wife suggested I asked where it was sourced from and the server informed me that it was a freshly brewed cup of coffee from Uptown’s Dogwood Coffee Company. I’ll be hitting them up soon to get me one of their expensive coffees to have on occasion. Mmm.
When it was all said and done our meal came to $98 after tax but before tip. Certainly not inexpensive but not as overpriced as many other reviews have claimed. We were extremely impressed by what we were served at the Butcher & The Boar on Sunday and if it is up to me and I have a chance to go again in the future, I wouldn’t hesitate in the least. We both highly recommend it if you get the chance as it’s one of the best meals we’ve had in recent memory.
Have you ever eaten at the Butcher & The Boar? If so what did you have? What did you like best and what do you think they could do better? What did you think of the decor, especially the hundreds of thousands of pennies shellacked into the floor? Whatever you have to say about one of Minneapolis’ hottest new restaurants go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Butcher & The Boar
1121 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403
See all the photos from the Butcher & the Boar on Flickr here.