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Butcher Block Rec

Date night with wifey this Saturday. (The first in a long time). Are finally making a trip to Butcher Block in NE Minny.

Any recommendations or things to avoid?

already heard from many that the gnocchi is some of the best.

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  1. The grilled octopus was one of the best in town. Texture was perfect, flavors, acid, char, all good and simple. The carpaccio was great as well, and a hearty portion. We have had the pasta's with house made accents like the guanciale for the bucatini or a ragu, and always been really happy. Lamb was excellent, chop, just some fresh herbs and lemon, nice olive oil. I really like it there, local, good ingredients, no pretense, just good food on the plate, and the chef is really into his staff.

    Wish I went more often....

    1 Reply
    1. re: mitch cumstein

      +1 on the grilled octopus. Excellent. Also the black monk ravioli was very good, great texture on the pasta. Ditto with the penne alla Toscana - perfectly balanced dishes. Simple, few ingredients, the flavors work very well together instead of washing out. I'm still working my way thorugh their pastas before hitting their secondis. I too wish I went there more often...

    2. Braised short rib is also a winner.

      1. Another plus on the grilled octopus from me. Also, the salads are some of the prettiest and best-dressed around. Short ribs are a solid recommendation. The only thing I would consider avoiding is anything steak-like (including lamb chops). On past visits, some have been overcooked. And, even if cooked to appropriate doneness, you won't find much of a crust on them (more grey than brown).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Brad Ballinger

          I liked the short ribs as well. I liked the chicken wings on my last visit, but that seems to be a dwindling point of emphasis. Wasn't terribly impressed with the calimari.

          1. re: kevin47

            just came by... wow, just wow.

            Not sure how this restaurant is not at or the near the top of everyone's lists. I've eaten at all of the Minneapolis "top 10" restaurants and this one beats them all.

            There was not a bad dish on the menu; everything had incredibly fresh ingredients and was well and simply.

            I had the gnocchi caprese and chicken parm.

            Wifey had the octopuss and rigatoni. All were as good or better than any similar dish I have ever had. Also, all of the portion sizes were appropriate and not overwhleming

            For dessert I had the lemoncello tiramisu and wifey had the chocolate torte. The Torte was incredibly rich paired well with a sweet raspberry sauce. The tiramisu was light and fluffy with a nice kick. Almost like a ultra high end twinkie

            all in all the best meal ive had in some time.

        2. This place is still a bit of a mystery to me...what is the ambiance/dress code like? I want to say it is laid back (based on the selection of wings, etc), but could I go in there wearing shorts and a t-shirt?

          I really want to try, but I don't want to go in there looking completely out of place.

          3 Replies
          1. re: BigE

            Hah- BigE, funny you should ask about dress code. Hubs and I were just there this weekend, on a whim, since Butcher Block was in my mind from this thread actually. I wore a nice summer dress and hubby had on shorts and a short sleeve plaid button up. We had never been, so I really did not know what to expect and get tired of correcting my hubs fashion sense. So he wore the shorts and plaid button up.

            Well- I would say the ambience is nice and cozy. And- they ended up having a maitre'd. He scanned us up and down and asked if we had reservations (we did not). I thought he might say something, but he didn't. We were seated at a two-top in the back corner which was fine for me. With the dim lighting I felt more comfortable, but the other diners certainly had kicked it up a notch from us. I swear I caught the maitre'd staring at us later, but our server was a doll. So. Hopefully this gives you a better feel for the inside.

            As for the food- we had the mussels, Penne Toscana and Cavatelli with pesto. I would say the cavatelli dish was fabulous! The fresh pesto was amazing with the homemade pasta. the mussels were good, but had green pepper that was a little overwhelming. But overall, great service and great food.

            1. re: BigE

              It's a mystery to me too. I still don't get the concept of wings for the late-night bar crowd.

              I've been there several times, and seen the range of patrons. On one side, there's a regular "Italian" crowd that seems to frequent Butcher Block. By putting Italian in quotes, I mean no disrespect, but I mean to call out that these folks seem to be genuinely Italian. They dress the part and speak fluent Italian with the maitre'd and with Chef Filippo Caffari. I've often seen him sitting at patron's tables enjoying a glass of wine yakking away in Italian. Those patrons are very well dressed.

              I've also (unfortunately) seen folks walk in there looking like they just came from the State Fair or a drag race (nothing wrong with either of those). Tee shirt, trucker hat, untied sneakers. They tend to order the spaghetti and meatballs, a Bud Light, and that's it. In and out in 25 minutes. I once saw a table turn over twice next to us while I was dining with my girlfriend - three sets of diners total, the third set halfway done when we left. We take our time, but we're no dawdlers.

              For me, Butcher Block is a top tier restaurant - maybe not in the top 5 or even top 10 in MSP, but top 15. As such, it deserves some type of dress code respect, even if it doesn't have a dress code. If I'm going to have something like hand made pasta, braised short ribs, and a very good glass of wine, and drop $100 for 2 people, I personally don't want to look like I belong at a Twins game eating a hot dog. But that's just me.

              1. re: foreverhungry

                Noted...jeans and a button up it is.

            2. We're going to Butcher Block tonight. It sounds like there are great things on this menu.

              Who's been there recently?

              Any new thoughts?


              1 Reply
              1. re: karykat

                some of my favorites

                pork and rocotta meatballs


                rigatoni with truffle sauce

                capellini with shrimp

              2. I can't read all of this without thinking of the waiter in The Blues Brothers saying to Elwood, "...Wrong glass sir!"

                1. I'm planning on going to Butcher Block Sunday evening. Haven't been in a few months. A couple of questions:

                  1) Does anyone have any recent recommendations?

                  2) Does anyone have experience ordering "off the menu"? I've heard mention that Butcher Block will make items for patrons that aren't on the menu. Can one simply ask "Is there anything that might not be on the menu that the chef can whip up?"

                  There's an odd feeling I get from the Butcher Block, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I get the feeling that us regular folks order off the menu, but that Chef's friends eat some specially cooked goods that us common folks don't see. Maybe I'm just being conspiracy theorist, but I really like Butcher Block, and if there's some goodies that the Chef can conjure up that go beyond the menu, I'd like to figure out how to get to them.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: foreverhungry

                    The grilled octopus was amazing. Owner whipped up something for us not on menu, out favorite pasta from Rome, Cacio e pepe. Didn't have anything bad.

                    1. re: foreverhungry

                      Isn't that the whole point of becoming a regular? A relationship that is cultivated over continued, frequent support of a business is most likely going to return some perks. Like it or not, thats how it works. I have asked for things that are simple off of old menu's and happily been obliged, but it's a first name basis sort of thing I think. Not tooting my horn, just voting with my dollars.

                      1. re: mitch cumstein

                        Yup, I get it. That makes sense. Because we go a variety of restaurants, and rarely hit the same one twice in the course of several months, it's hard to build up those relationships. But a couple of decades ago, I was going to the same establishments on a very regular basis, and yes, there were perks.

                        On another note, 5 of us went to Butcher Block last night. The grilled octopus was excellent, and the rock shrimp appetizer was, while what I had expected, was also fantastic. I had the veal marsala for a main, which was also very well executed. Perfectly seasoned, great flavor, and the veal itself was well prepared. For dessert we shared the tiramisu limoncello, and the chocolate panna cotta. The panna cotta had an incredible consistency and deep flavor. The tiramisu, while not a traditional version, was very light, flavorful, and bright. Overall, another fantastic meal at Butcher Block.