Butcher and the Boar (Minneapolis, MN)

After an afternoon of work in Minneapolis, and a quick trip over to St Louis Park to visit The Four Firkins (one of the finest beer stores I’ve ever been to), it was time to have some dinner. I decided to meet up with my friend Andy from my MSU days, along with a former FIRST robotics student and intern of mine, Mas (and his fiancee) for dinner at Butcher and the Boar, one of Minneapolis’ newer bars located on Hennepin Avenue on the edge of the Loring Park neighborhood (looking at a Minneapolis Map, I guess technically most folks call this the “Harmon Neighborhood”).

Opened by Jack Reibel, formerly the chef at the well-respected La Belle Vie in Stillwater and the Dakota Jazz Club, Butcher and the Boar is really about two things: beer and meat. First of all, the beer: one of the two centerpieces of the restaurant is their large bar (the other is the open kitchen across the dining area), with a rather impressive tap list, indeed, the beer list was one of my main reasons for coming. With a good list of American beers, with particular emphasis on regional brewers, it’s one of the best beer lists I’ve recently found in the Twin Cities. Indeed, I was able to have some local Surly, some “Goes to 11″ by Bells, and some Deschute Mirror Pond. They’ve also got rather good wine and whiskey lists, although I wasn’t in the mood for indulging those that particular night.

On the meat side, Butcher and the Boar has both classic meat entrees (for example, they sell an extra-thick pork chop that’s enough for two people) and charcuterie. For the charcuterie, they make it rather easy, offering a modestly priced “Butcher’s Plate” with a small selection of that’s day’s charcuterie offerings. On our visit, that meant a nice selection of Turkey Braunschweiger, Texas Wild Boar Ham, Black Buck Antelope, Rabbit Terrine, and Wild Boar Head Cheese. All of these were quite good: the braunschweiger was rich and flavorful without being greasy, the ham was nice and smoky, and the head cheese had a perfect meatiness. This was one of the better charcuterie plates I’ve had (the best since the one I had at Home Hill Inn), and I’m hoping to have another trip back here soon to try it again.

For the meat course, I opted for the daily special “Butcher’s Cut”, which on that night was a very flavorful and perfectly cooked flank steak. I was rather happy with it, and it was a nice compromise between my conserving of stomach space (a visit to Al’s Breakfast was scheduled the next morning!) and my desire for a large, well-roasted chunk of meat (which the pork chop would have satisfied very nicely). Flank is always a slightly difficult cut, but here it was done nicely, with a good sear, nice flavor, and a good, juicy and tender interior. With some smothered greens on the side, this was quite a good dinner, although I was most intrigued by my colleagues’ order of lobster grilled cheese.

If there is a downside to Butcher and the Boar, it’s that they are a victim of their own success, even on a Tuesday night, Butcher and Boar required reservations to avoid a rather long line waiting outside for seats (although the staff was more than accommodating of our original reservation for two becoming a reservation for “four or five”). But the food quality was good, the beer list excellent, and the menu inventive. I certainly want to give them another visit if my travels bring me back this way.

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