From the bacon to end all bacons to must-have potstickers, here are the highlights that popped out while I paged through my barely legible dining diary. What were your top eats of the week? Share the details in the comments section. 

“Shades of Summer” salad at Wise Acre Eatery

When a restaurant’s supply chain is its own farm, the ingredients don’t get any fresher. There are 140 highly productive acres in Plato, Minn. – that’s about 45 minutes west of the Twin Cities – that stock the larder in Butch O’Brien’s busy kitchen. A barometer of the farm’s current output is this ever-changing salad ($17), composed of field greens and lettuces cultivated in its hoop houses, plus any just-harvested vegetables. When I stopped by, the inventory was all about carrots, beets, red bell peppers, radishes and cherry tomatoes, all radiantly fresh and complemented by a bright but not overwhelming Dijon vinaigrette. The anchor is of course the farm’s own bacon – the cut is accurately billed as a “steak,” as “slab” is too diminutive a word – and it’s spectacular, a one-of-a-kind indulgence for those who place a premium on top-shelf pork products. 5401 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-2577

Margherita pizza at Zelo

I looked at the clock and discovered that I’d worked through lunch. Trust me, that almost never happens. Where could I go for something fast and delicious that wasn’t fast food? My mind (and then my feet) immediately took me to the sunny, comfortable bar at Zelo, where one of the city’s best bartenders takes one look at this creature of habit and knows to get a margherita pizza ($14.95) started. It’s a favorite of mine: the crust is so thin and sturdy and crisp that it’s bordering on cracker-like, and the kitchen demonstrates remarkable restraint on the toppings front: a slightly sweet tomato sauce, generous blobs of milky housemade mozzarella, tons of fresh and fragrant basil, dribbles of a fruity olive oil and twinkling flecks of salt. Simple pleasures, right? Taken note of this rare downtown perk: starting at 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, owner Rick Webb offers complimentary valet parking. 831 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-333-7000

Gyoza and “Crispy Shrimp Rice” at PinKU Japanese Street Food

Running late as always, I figured I had no more than 30 minutes to grab dinner before driving to Columbia Heights for the first of October’s four installments of Taste Night at the Heights. Fortunately, this quick-service marvel came to mind. I’m fairly certain I could live, and live very well, on chef John Sugimura’s cooking. Especially his potstickers ($5.50 for five), an expert mix of ground pork and cabbage that’s seasoned with plenty of ginger and finished with a pop of garlic chives. The wrappers are thin and delicate, and after they’re steamed they’re introduced to a hot pan, which leaves them nicely crisped and caramelized. They’re just the right proportions, slightly too big to be labeled “bite-sized,” and I’ve never encountered better in the Twin Cities. Just as delicious is the kitchen’s bestseller: plump, juicy fried shrimp ($7), brushed with a spiced-up mayonnaise and served with rice. The results could be ponderous and overdone, but they’re anything but. Good (correction: great) news for travelers: Sugimura and business partner Xiaoteng Huang are opening an outlet at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in a few weeks. 20 University Av. NE., Mpls., 612-584-3167

Scrambled eggs with pimento cheese at Hope Breakfast Bar

In the looks department, this St. Paul newcomer is a total knockout, and a role model for the adaptive reuse of a historic structure; in this case, it’s a former fire station that was this close to meeting the wrecking ball. Chef/owner Brian Ingram is wisely stretching the boundaries of what constitutes all-day breakfast (braised beef ribs with bacon-laced mashed potatoes, a vegan cheeseburger) but he also offers twists on a.m. standards, including a clever selection of pancakes, biscuits and gravy, avocado toast and a sweet-tooth fantasia on French toast. I had a hankering for scrambled eggs, and Ingram goes way over the top ($12), in a delightful way. He bolsters a massive scramble with tons of that Southern staple of the moment, pimento cheese spread, and the contrast is remarkable: the eggs are airy and fluffy (pity the overworked forearms on the staffer assigned to the egg-whisking station) yet they can handle the heft of all of that creamy pimento-flecked dairy goodness. 1 S. Leech St., St. Paul, 651-330-8996

Bouchons at Cocoa & Fig

It was a bad case of the mid-afternoon office fidgets. You know, the malaise that convinces the mind that the workday cannot be completed without chocolate. Fortunately, my place of employment is in downtown Minneapolis, and it’s a short sprint to this tiny Gaviidae Common outpost. For nearly 10 years, C&F has been my single source for bouchons, those delightful cork-shaped, brownie-like treats. Baker/co-owner Laurie Lin really does them right, loading up on the butter and relying upon premium cocoa and chocolate (from French import Valrhona) to impart a prodigious fudge-like wallop. A four-pack goes for $6.50. That price might appear steep, but it’s so not, given the quality and workmanship, and they’re so rich and decadent that even the most Falstaffian of appetites will discover that even one of these edible corks is more than plenty. 651 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-333-1485


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