Monday, October 15, 2012

The Birthday and the Boar

Well, it's happened. Another year down the drain and nothing to show for it but a few fantastic meals, some good stories to tell around the campfire, a wedding and a couple more miles on the odometer. Not bad for a ne'er-do-well such as yours truly. So what should we do to celebrate such a momentous occasion as the anniversary of my glorious introduction to this earth? Some do it with cake, some with skydiving, me, I prefer to do it the old fashioned way, with whiskey and egregious amounts of meat.

Luckily for me, my better half knows when to indulge me. No I am not referring to spending a night home alone eating microwaved hotdogs and drinking Jameson out of the bottle, my lovely and talented wife managed to secure us a table for two at that garden of Earthly delights residing in an unassuming storefront on Hennepin avenue, the Butcher and the Boar.

One thing I look to when giving my own personal snap judgement of a restaurant is their bar. A bar can give you insight into everything from the philosophy of the restaurant to the type of experience you can expect to have. Butcher and the Boar's is certainly a statement. Two tenders behind a dark wooden bar packed top to bottom with rye and bourbon divided by a fairly impressive local, craft tap line. To me this says two things. The breadth of whiskey represented evinces a desire to discover and deliver the best of this specific niche, the locally sourced brews show care for the source, the origins of what they serve. So far, color me impressed.

Then we see the menus. There are almost too many menus at Butcher and the Boar. One for the whiskey, one for the wine, one for the entrees and one for the...well, you know how it goes. It was almost difficult to manage so many menus at once, but Anna and I managed to wrangle them to the point where we were able to order a couple drinks. She ordered a sazerac and I ordered a Basil* Hayden's neat. I was nonplussed by the sazerac which seemed like lazy lip-service to a classic cocktail, however it's pretty hard to screw up high-rye bourbon in a glass which I enjoyed immensely. 

We ordered grilled oysters which were immaculately prepared, followed by fried green tomatoes and smoked olives (which included pickled caper berries and garlic) nice, delicate, smoky with a nice vinegar bite. 

The trouble with a la carte menus is that I could order sides all night long, fortunately our server prompted me to order an entree. I opted for the pork chop which I found out was actually the size of a small child. Immaculately cooked with sour cherries and pecan relish, this double-cut chop could feed an entire village of petits gourmands for several days and, indeed, lasted at our household longer than most delicious cuts of meat make it despite the best efforts of my midnight snacks and lunchtime refrigerator sorties. 

So is Butcher and the Boar worth the hype? They clearly think deeply about what they are serving and why. If they continue on this path, you can expect more great things from this shop, there are a few edges that need polishing but by-and-large the Butcher and the Boar gets my wholehearted seal of approval, not simply for catering to my specific love for earthy brown liquor and cooked meats, but for their philosophical interaction with the food and drink that they serve. Cogito ergo eo e bibo.

This picture does not do justice to how enormous that pork chop was. If I would have fought this pork chop it would have won...

*Pronounced "baw-sil" not "bay-sil" Hayden, for all of you out there in TV-Land who are keeping score, thanks to the effluvious Matt Smith for the professorial pronunciation participation.

Butcher and the Boar
1121 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN

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