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Butcher and the Boar

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We tried the Butcher and the Boar (http://butcherandtheboar.com/) Sunday night for my birthday. Overall, I would say some parts of the meal were fabulous, some parts were good, and a few just okay.

The bourbon selection was excellent and the cocktails were really good. I had a delicious old-fashioned made with their house single barrel bourbon.

We started with wild boar ham and their version of a shrimp cocktail. Both of these dishes were excellent. The ham was flavorful and tender. I liked the bread and butter pickles on the side too. The shrimp were cooked in a mix of lemons and herbs and were perfectly tender. The cocktail sauce served with them had a nice horseradish kick. It was a nice update on a classic and was a good mix of flavors.

We next split a “Sausage for the Table” plate. The wild boar hot link was nice and juicy. It was served with pickled vegetables, which I thought were fine, but not particularly interesting. The plate also had a pork cheddarwurst. It was also nice and juicy and had a lot of melted cheese. The final sausage was a beef sausage served with a chili sauce and slaw. I thought this sausage was fabulous. I loved the sauce and slaw as complements to the sausage, which was nicely spiced on its own.

We then moved on to the turkey roulade with bacon and cheesy grits. The turkey roulade was okay. It tasted good, but the texture was oddly mushy. My husband liked it more than I did, but compared to the other things we had eaten so far, it just did not measure up. It was served with more of the same pickled veggies as the boar sausage. This course was, however, redeemed by the cheesy grits. They were very creamy.

For dessert, my husband had the homemade s’mores. They were quite good. I had the grasshopper pie. Ice cream sounded really good on such a warm evening and it satisfied that craving. However, it just was a bit flat – it needed either more chocolate or more mint (or maybe both?) – as it was it tasted more like cream than like minty chocolate goodness.

I would recommend it and plan to go back, but would probably order mainly cured meats, sausages and sides.

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  1. Thanks for the report, and happy birthday. I've been curious about this place. I suppose it's not surprising that the meats are the stars here, but I'm very encouraged by the cheesy grits!

    ~TDQ

    1. I was there last night and had a fabulous experience. Good bourbon drink (bourbon, lemon, simple syrup), nice list of wines by the glass (a good Claret, which is uncommon on in a glass selection).
      Tequila cured salmon- delicious. Apple and tomato water cubes, some jalapeno and cilantro.
      Venison summer sausage- good, with cheese whiz, which made me laugh but was tasty.
      Pork sausage and the Texas beef sausage, both great but I preferred the pork.
      Great sides- mushrooms, simply roasted with rosemary; grits, had a kick to them; and the smothered greens which we insanely good.
      Looks like they're building a huge patio out back, which will be a terrific space since it's fairly private and not on the sidewalk like most "outdoor" areas at restaurants here.

      12 Replies
      1. re: meljohns

        There last week. Service was terrible. Food ok but not worth writing home about. The problem with this and other places where big bucks have been spent the last few years? People, particularly the professional critics, give them an easy ride because they spent the big bucks. Loved the penny floor, but it wasn't worth an $8 sausage with specs of veggies on the plate. The walleye sausage was almost inedible.

        1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

          The penny floor sounds neat. The walleye sausage sounds like a bad idea. :(.

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Seafood sausages can be fantastic. I don't know anything about Butcher and Boar's walleye sausage, but I actually like the idea of a walleye sausage that incorporated wild rice. If it's pulled off well, it could be a really neat "Minnesota" sausage, maybe even spiked with ramps. But it could be that walleye's texture would make it difficult to turn into sausage.

            1. re: foreverhungry

              Really? Maybe I should have had less of a knee-jerk negative reaction! What is the texture of a good seafood sausage like? I guess that's what doesn't appeal to me as most fish has a very delicate texture, I just can't imagine how that would translate into a sausage. I'm willing to have my mind changed, though.

              And do you know of any seafood sausages locally that you would recommend?

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                The charcuterie plate at Ngon Bistro had a marlin sausage on it as of a few months ago.

                1. re: Jordan

                  But was it good? Marlin is a firm fish that"might" work in a sausage.

                  1. re: ibew292

                    We liked it. This was very thin and delicate -- more like a terrine or pate than something you'd throw on the grill.

                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                  The walleye sausage was mushy, pale, and lacking any real flavor. Do like the idea of walleye wild rice sausage!

            2. re: SarahInMinneapolis

              Was it in a casing or skinless?

              Poached gently in celophane, cello removed, and then carefully sauteed to caramelize is my favorite execution of this concept. Quenelles are another option, though less fun.

              A mousseline is the typical idea (cream, egg, fish protein). Adding wild rice sounds like it might be hard to pull off. I'd submit a tiny wild rice croquette with walleye sausage medallions, lightly picked ramps, garnished with some candied mosquitoes for the Minnesota extreme. Sounds like something a loon would eat...

              1. re: keg

                keg, I honestly have no idea if you're serious, but what you've described sounds both delicious and hilarious. If you served that in a restaurant, I'd order it. Sad to admit that I must be a loon!

                For some reason, I always forget that a sausage doesn't have to be in a casing, so with that in mind, I'm less put off by the concept of a fish sausage.

                I'm also wondering if Ngon's fish sausage is tasty!

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Let me try to remember. It was in a casing, but I didn't pay attention to what that casing was. No caramelization. Just kind of a mushy mess that completely fell apart at the first cut. Ditto on what TDQ said about Keg's hypothetical rendition!

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    had a scallop sausage that was brilliant. of course overcooking and drying out a seafood sausage=death.

                    so, props to reibel for attempting a walleye sausage, but ding him hard if the dish hits the plates poorly executed, or the final menu before it's ready. :) :(

            3. We went the other week finally. It was loud, there were lots of Porsches being handled by the valet service, and most folks were still dressed in business suits. However the crowd wasn't an indication of the food and I didn't think that the restaurant was pretentious.

              We had a group of 12 so we ordered a few group appetizers such as the sausage platters and corn bread. Very good variety. Everyone enjoyed the sausages and accompanying sauces. We got a sample of the sides such as the tortilla coleslaw which everyone enjoyed. The skillet cornbread was really good. Several folks ordered more of it with their meals.

              Mrs Gutgrease and I shared the beef rib and a side of the dirty wild rice. The rib was fantastic. My wife forked off half and I ate the other half off of the bone. It was perfect until the meat actually did fall off of the bone towards the end. The waitress did say that it was smoked for 12 hours and then something else was done...can't remember what. Whatever they all did they made it tasty and tender. The dirty rice wasn't much to speak of but I rarely find it to be a flavorful side but its what Mrs Gutgrease wanted to eat.

              I tried a few sides from other people's meals as well. The cowboy beans were good and had some kick. The cheesy grits were really good but I was a bit disappointed with the deep-fried fries. They lacked substance and more just tasted like bland breading.

              I had a flight of the three styles bourbons: a wheated, a high rye, and low rye. Admittedly I don't have a complex enough nose to discern between the different flavors. I've had the same problem at scotch tastings. Oh well, I enjoyed them all so it was good. A few people had the Old Fashions and really enjoyed them. I had the pumpkin beer and really enjoyed that too.

              Overall everyone was pretty happy with the experience. The meats were good and B&B pushed boundaries without getting to far outside of the rodeo fences. There are still items that I want to try such as the stuffed trout, the big hotdog, and the massively thick pork chop. I'm sure that I'll find my way back.

              1. Went here last night after reading many favorable reviews.

                First off – great bar areas, especially the patio and very good beer list. We were off to a good start. The patio was really nice and open and service was okay - ordered a Boulevard 8-bit on draft and they brought a can of Boulevard IPA. Our server mentioned that we had an old beer list. As a beer drinker, it's hard to sub out an IPA if someone orders a pale ale, especially if they order a draft and you bring a can - but, as a beer drinker who also enjoys Boulevard's IPA, I let it slide.

                On to the dining room and very hungry. We took the approach to order everything at once since there isn't an obvious progression to the menu. We thought that the kitchen would pace the dishes accordingly or the our server could figure it out for us since she's delivered all of these plates before but no, she asked what we wanted first and how many courses did we want. I told her that I would defer to her judgement and how the plates come out of the kitchen and she responded by saying that they can all come out at the same time but "your table is too small." Not a good sign - all of of the plates are already finished? Nothing made to order? Okay, just start bringing food.

                First up - grilled oysters were good - smoky flavor with a nice lemon/citrus balance - 4 to an order. Charcuterie plate – This is where things started to get bad. Meats were pretty solid but that’s it. Each meat was accompanied by an acid to balance it - mostly a combo of a mustard and pickled vegetable. There was just too much acid/vinegar in the pickled vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bread/butter pickels) and unfortunately, that’s all I could taste. Killed the course. But we finished it. I like vinegar but even I had a puckered palate after that dish. The house made crackers were very nice though.

                Next up: Texas sausage – not sure where in Texas this is supposed to be from but I expected something like a Mikeska style smoked sausage. This was more like a smoked beef sausage (Eckridge style) smothered in a sweet bbq/chile sauce. Not what I was expecting but I ate it (I was hungry). My wife took one bite and said, "meh." The sauce was too much. If the sausage is good, you don't need much of a condiment to go with it. One of our sides - smothered greens was delivered with this dish and it was pretty good. I love bacon but not wet rubbery bacon, which this had a lot of, so I ate around that but the greens in cream were pretty good.

                Main event and what I've read in reviews is a must-get dish - the long rib. Huge disappointment. One long beef rib smoked for 12 hours and smothered in a bbq sauce, served with a tortilla strip slaw (not bad). The rib was very tender but it had a creosote taste that made it almost inedible. Completely inedible for my wife (she thought it had gone "bad" or something but I told her that creosote is sometimes a by-product of a poor bbq smoke/grill and that's what she was tasting), almost inedible for me. The bbq sauce was too sweet for this dish, I couldn’t even taste the meat, which maybe was a good thing. We didn’t finish it, ate about half, and that was difficult because it’s not a lot of meat for $34. Sides were skillet cornbread and cheesy grits. Cornbread was pretty good but the grits were just bland. I was looking forward to this one side since I always order grits south of the Mason/Dixon line and these were not a close resemblance.

                Dessert menus came but we couldn't go down this path of disappointment again. We skipped dessert and opted instead for home-frozen Flav-or-Ice.

                With this food and a couple of beers it was about $120 before tip (our wait staff didn’t deserve much – another problem) – so not bad.

                I was really looking forward to this place. From the media reviews, it seemed to be on par with other restaurants I've been to in other cities and that movement towards - high-quality meat focused / simple, well executed sides, family style/group ordering, strong beer/drink list casual place. If you've been to Chicago - my thoughts were "great, it sounds a little like Publican." This is nowhere near that kind of place. This seems to be a giant corporate restaurant with a great drink menu and food is sort of an after thought. I can see this place evolving to an after work drinks place with a lower focus on food. Maybe they do a sausage week or something but it's not the type of restaurant I was hoping for.

                I felt sorry for my wife since I was talking this place up with anticipation - it was our anniversary (noted on our online reservation but not mentioned or acknowledged in person when we arrived) - and she barely ate anything.

                One more thing - don't use the valet and if you do, don't tip when you drop your car off. We arrived and I gave the guy a $10 for the $7 charge and told him to keep it, thinking that I don't have to deal with it on the way out. When we were leaving the valets were gone, except for one. We waited 15 minutes for the one valet to get our car and he was literally running for the next customer. We felt bad and tipped him as well. Stupid me, I should have just parked in one of the lots around the 'hood.

                11 Replies
                1. re: tyrus

                  Publican is the best! Phenomenal quality, focus, and finesse. That would be a tall order to match that quality in any town. Sausage and beer at a world class level matched with perfect service and properly cooked shellfish too. If you think that's an easy formula, you don't know easy...

                  1. re: keg

                    I didn't say it would be easy. I'm well familiar with Publican and Paul Kahan's other places (Blackbird, Avec, Big Star) and have been there frequently. It's not an easy formula and I have nothing but admiration for Chef Kahan's places. I'm using it here for a reference point. After reading many big media reviews, it sounds an awful lot like a "Publican"-style place but be assured that it's nowhere near that type of place. I was just taken aback and very disappointed overall in B&B. Atmosphere is great for drinks but I probably wouldn't eat here again - unless it's a happy hour/beers sort of night.

                    1. re: tyrus

                      That was a rhetorical you. I catch your drift.

                      My experience with Publican was over the top on the one occasion I ate there. We fussed a bit on beer selection and our server was genuinely thrilled, without entering too heavily in our conversation. When we later asked who was responsible for the beer program, only then did he introduce himself as the Ciceron. Completely unpretentious fully focused on delivering delicious beer and food. The same dedication seems to be everyone's focus at Publican. That's the prize of a great dining experience.

                      On the "smoked meats different every time" comment below, that would be a nightmare for anyone producing cured meat. There's very narrow tolerance for variation in a high quality production scheme. It's not easy to deliver consistency, but it is the goal. Smoke house programming, cart loading, compliance with cooking and cooking standards, and a list of details that would put you to sleep. Inconsistency is the mark of someone who is still trying to figure out why the results are inconsistent.

                      Creosote flavor sounds like they might have had a smokehouse fire (or flue fire), or they might not clean the equipment carefully.

                  2. re: tyrus

                    I should have edited my post to read "Tallgrass" 8-bit and IPA. Sorry for the mix up.

                    1. re: tyrus

                      Creosote, most often, comes from meat being smoked too heavily for way too long. It's a mistake that rookie BBQ guys make all the time, thinking that you have to pound the meat with smoke as long and as hard as possible. It's not true. You actually want to be somewhat judicious with the wood. If you ever go to the KC places, you'll notice their smokers aren't all that smoky. It's very light, just enough so that you can see it, but not so thick you can't see thru it. And I haven't been to B&TB so it's hard to comment, but 12 hours seems like an awful long time for a beef rib.

                      Smoking meat is an art and the beauty of it is that no matter how many times you do it, you get a different result every time. In some cases, that can be bad and I'm sorry it happened to you, especially at such a high price point.

                      1. re: tyrus

                        (this was meant as reply to tyrus, by the way) wow, as a family of shall we say very serious beer drinkers, I'm pretty sure we would have been appalled at being brought a can of beer after ordering something on draft. #1 You should have been given a up-to-date beer list (this seems to be a challenge for a lot of restaurants) and barring that #2 the server should have noticed that when you ordered a beer that was not available and said, "oh, I'm so sorry that's not available, let me bring you a current beer list" or at least told you verbally what was different, and finally barring THAT, #4 should have never brought you a can of something else, no less a different style of beer and a different brewery (there are some beers that even though I like some of the other beers by the same brewery that I would not want to drink) but instead come back and said, "Sorry we are out of what you wanted. Here are the other options that are similar {insert other pale ales for example} or I can bring you some Tallgrass IPA in a can." I guess I'm really sensitive about this sort of thing, but all of this can be circumvented with good staff training and having staff up to date about what beer (or wine or food) is and is not available on any given night. It's just sloppy service. And at a place like B&B I'd rather have good service if I'm gonna pay that price-point. And if it had been me, I would have sent back the IPA as I do not like IPAs unless they are on cask (or if they are double or Imperial IPAs...) so I would not have been as forgiving as you! ;)

                        As I mentioned before, several places seem to have a hard time keeping their beer lists up-to-date. It annoys me a bit. I mean, why have a beer list if it's not going to be valid? No one hands out menus that are routinely wrong (well, I can think of one place like that but it's not local to the Twin Cities), but beer, because a restaurant/bar can run through a keg at any given time, the beer list can quickly go out of date. In which case the servers SHOULD BE MADE AWARE so that the CUSTOMER can then know what they are choosing amongst. I don't put all of the onus on the servers here, although they should bear some responsibility. But if management isn't willing to make this a priority then why should the servers (you know, aside from wanting a good tip)? This isn't the first story of bad service I have heard about the Butcher & Boar and that's disappointing.

                        Sorry for the rant! But this makes me feel like I don't really want to go to the Butcher & Boar. I mean, in my mind a beer list is only "very good" if they've got the beer they say they have...

                        1. re: turtlebella

                          That's why I'll never go to Busters again. Everyone raves about it, and while they have good food, I have never been there when they weren't out of at least the first two beers that I ordered. That's the poorest of poor ways to manage a place, is to have so few kegs of everything on site that your list of 50 beers is really only 25 at any point in time.

                          As for the smoke of the beef rib, you can smoke anything at any interval as long as you adjust the variables, namely temperature, to compensate for a longer cook. I did a 22 hour beef brisket recently at a low temp and it was outstanding. I agree that thin blue smoke is the goal, but creosote is different. It is generated by wood at various levels depending on the type used - pine is one with lots of creosote. The creosote flavor that may become infused in the meat at a place like B&B, likely comes from the oven/smoker itself because it hasn't been cleaned properly. The creosote builds on the cabinet. I'd be shocked if B&B was smoking with pine or some other wood that could actually impart a creosote flavor from the smoking wood alone.

                          1. re: GutGrease

                            Absolutely off-topic, but if you smoked a brisket for 22 hours, I assume you did a full packer and not just a point. Where did you get it? Everywhere I look only seems to carry the flat.

                            Thanks.

                            1. re: magz0r

                              I've gotten full packer briskets at finer meats on Nicollet in south Mpls.

                              1. re: magz0r

                                Everett's will sell you the entire brisket

                              2. re: GutGrease

                                Interesting experience GutGrease. It might be bad luck, because I've been to Busters dozens of times, and have never had a beer I asked for not be available. I have been told that their limited stock beers, like some Surly and Bells limited releases, do, of course, run out. But then that's a different situation, with limited release products, that by definition have a limited supply. But on non-limited release products, I've never been told that they didn't have something I asked for. Now I've probably cursed my luck.

                          2. Had dinner tonight. The wait was ridiculous (hour and a half w/ no reservation). The whiskey sour and long rib were simply awesome. Everything else was OK.

                            1. Finally made it to this place. It has good and bad points. We decided to go at the last minute at 7 on a Friday, so we expected a long wait, and got it. That's fine. We've waited longer at Travail, so we're not terribly bothered. Now that it's cold, the back yard beer garden is tented in and heated, and they told us we could wait there and they'd come get us when a table was ready. Cool. Went back, had a couple beers, and talked for almost 2 hours, then decided to go see what the wait was.

                              "Oh. We thought you were eating at the bar."

                              Hm.

                              Mistakes do happen though, so not a huge deal. They got us in 10 minutes later at the next cleared table.

                              She had an arugula salad with watermelon, goat cheese, and pickled red onions. Good stuff! Not sure it was $10 good, but good nonetheless. I had the beet salad. with pickled beef hearts, walnuts, and horseradish. It was OK. Definitely not worth the $10. Presentation was a lot like a Travail beet salad, but the execution wasn't anywhere close. The beets weren't overly flavorful, and the heart was very thin grey strips - it should look like a small medium steak, but no pink was to be found.

                              For dinner we had the pork chop, in an apple cider glaze with tart cherries and pecans. Fantastic. The presentation was beautiful, and the flavor was excellent. Pork done right is my favorite meat, and not many places get it absolutely right. They did.

                              Sides were 3-cheese creamy grits, which were very good, but not very large if 2 people are sharing it - Grits are cheap. $8 worth of grits should be twice the amount it was. We had enough for around 3 spoonfuls each.

                              And we had fried green tomatoes on the recommendation of our waitress, who said they were exciting because you don't find them very often up here.

                              Yep. There's a reason for that. They don't know how to make them up here ;) 6 very small tomato slices, 2 of which were red (they need to be green, and not just because "fried red tomatoes" sounds dumb - once they turn red, they're too sweet. Fried green tomatoes need to be acidic), 2 of which were green but extremely tough. The other two were fine. The cornflake batter was weird - not enough corn taste - just fry 'em in cornmeal like they do in the south. It works better, costs less, and you don't have to mash up cereal for prep.

                              They also need to police the bar a little better. Our table was right next to the bar stools, which is fine, until someone gets drunk. Two guys were staggering around yelling at each other to keep each other's hands off their women, because their women are the finest damn women around and too good for the other guy. Came close to knocking bottles off our table. The bartender needed to cut them off earlier, and restaurant staff needed to gently guide them to the front door and out. If I want to watch drunken bar posturing, I can do it a lot cheaper than here. Fortunately this happened at the end of the meal anyway, so we left before they could get any more obnoxious.

                              All in all, a $100 evening with some highs, lows, and a fantastic piece of pork that alone is enough to get me to go back there some time. If they'd pay more attention to the execution of the non-meats, they'd have one hell of a restaurant. For now, it has a lot of potential, and is worth a second look.

                              1. Made my first trip to B&B on Wednesday.

                                Bourbon - This was as much of a draw as the food, to be honest. Finding an extensive bourbon list in MSP is difficult, to say the least. B&B has a good list, though I've had most of their offerings. I settled on Baker's, which is a nice (albeit strong) 7 year offering.

                                Appetizer - Rabbit terrine was my choice. This came served with the standards; toasts (rye), mustard, radish, and frisee. Nothing mind blowing, but a good start.

                                Meal - I know this is pretty sad, but I went with the footlong and beer battered fries. The fries were outstanding and, for what its worth, the best part of the meal. Nice batter on the outside, crispy with a nice soft interior. I really liked the dill dipping sauce. Small-ish portion, but still quite good. Now, to the dog. In general, I have issue with food that looks pretty at the expense of being possible to eat. The massive pile of chow-chow (interspersed with two types of sauces) made this thing not only impossible to eat, but an incredible mess. I'm not joking when I say I had to wipe off my entire face and my hands after every single bite. That got real old, real fast. Flavorwise, it was just OK. The addition of thai chiles was really nice and added some zing, but the other prominent flavor was sour, which I didn't care for. The bun is outstanding and the dog itself kind of gets lost, to be honest. I can't imagine ordering this one again.

                                I also split some cornbread with my dining companion. The first flavor I got was that of rancid oil that must have permeated from the pan it was cooked (and served) in. It was so bad, I actually spit out my first bite. The top half of the cornbread was good and the accompanying butter was great, though that also had a dollop of some sort of sourness that I really didn't enjoy.

                                Overall, an up and down trip. Good bourbon and beer list, love the bar and the overall decor, and the beer tent is probably a great time in the summer. I'll definitely be back for that, along with the long rib and more bourbon.