The burger: Chef Geoff Hausmann’s “Bottineau Burger” at the Sample Room is one of those half-pound monsters that's easier to navigate with a knife and fork than with two hands. It starts with lean, flavorful, Wisconsin-raised grass-fed beef, ground in-house and nudged on the grill to a sizzling char. It’s one of those thick, cooked-precisely-to-order patties that sprawls across the bun from edge to edge, a right-on calibration of meat and bread.
Hausmann doesn't skimp on the garnishes, starting with a thick slab of sharp Cheddar ("It used to be Gouda, but I feel like everyone just wants Cheddar or American on their burger," said Hausmann). For the bacon portion of the show, Hausmann brines pork belly for two days, then slowly braises it in pork fat, yielding a shimmering, ultra-porky (and ultra-fatty) finish. Buttermilk-blanched fried onions add a crunchy finish. The bun? It's a beauty (from Denny's 5th Avenue Bakery), toasted to a gentle crispiness on the outside, with a milk-enriched softness on the inside. It all works together, like clockwork.
Price: $11 lunch, $12 dinner.
Fries? Included, and they’re fantastic; hand-cut, skin-on, super-crisp and well-seasoned.
Don't miss: Hausmanns’ excellent charcuterie, which he packages in both a la carte options ($5 to $8) and as a platter ($16). The latter is a real doozy, a gorgeous and impressive salute to the goodness that is pork, cleverly complemented with skillfully crafted pickles, mustards, chutneys and marmalades. It's a knockout, and it totally calls back to Hausmann's tenure at Travail Kitchen and Amusements, Robbinsdale's palace of glorious culinary excess. Oh, the bar gets into the act, too, pouring a Midwest craft beer flight ($5) that’s tailored to pair with all that porked-out loveliness.
Reservations: Not accepted, but diners can call an hour before arrival and ask to place their name on the waiting list.
Fun fact: Why “Bottineau”? It’s a salute to early settler Pierre Bottineau, who once owned the land where the Sample Room stands; the neighborhood also bears his name.
Address book: 2124 Marshall St. NE., Mpls., 612-789-0333.
Talk to me: Do you have a favorite burger? Share the details with me at email@example.com.
Time to toot our own horn! The Taste section is a two-time finalist in the journalism competition that is held by the Association of Food Journalists. Both projects are competing in the Special Food Section category.
One is the "Taste 50" section from last year, which featured 50 people in the Twin Cities who have been noteworthy in local foods. The special project featured terrific text from Rick Nelson, stunning photos from Tom Wallace (who shot 125 photos for this single issue), amazing design by Nicole Hvidsten (who fortunately did not develop carpal tunnel from all that intricate work necessary from all those photos), with coordination from me (that would be Lee Svitak Dean). The special section included an interactive online site, too. Find it here.
The three-part series by freelancer Steve Hoffman, "A Letter From France," is also a finalist in this category. Steve eloquently wrote about olives, figs, goats and cheese as he told stories of life in a tiny village in France where he and his family spent the fall. His wife, Mary Jo, served as photographer for the series, which included a video that she and her daughter produced. Find the video here.
We've been proud of these projects from the start. But being acknowledged as finalists is extra sweet. The winners will be announced in September.
See below for the full roster of award finalists.
2013 AFJ Awards Competition List of Finalists
Finalists below are listed in alphabetical order. More than three finalists in any category indicate one or more ties.
Best Newspaper Special Food Project
“This Is Pittsburgh Food,” Bob Batz Jr., Food Editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Letters from France," Steve Hoffman, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“On Our Plate,” Nancy Stohs, Food Editor, Milwaukee Journel Sentinel
"Edge City,” Jill Silva, Food Editor, Kansas City Star
"Taste 50,” Lee Dean, Food Editor, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Best Newspaper Food Coverage, above 200,000 circulation
Boston Globe, Sheryl Julian, Food Editor
Philadelphia Daily News, Food Editor: Laurie T. Conrad
The San Francisco Chronicle, Miriam Morgan, Food Editor
The Washington Post, Joe Yonan, Food Editor
Best Newspaper Food Coverage, below 200,000 circulation
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA, Cheramie Sonnier, Food Editor
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bob Batz Jr., Food Editor
San Antonio Express-News, Karen Haram, Food Editor
Best Newspaper Food Feature, above 220,000 circulation
Andrea Adleman, The Washington Post, “The Psychology of Cupcakes”
Katy McLaughlin, The Wall Street Journal, “Get Your Goat On”
Greg Morago, The Houston Chronicle, “Barbecue Nerds”
Best Newspaper Food Feature, 125,000-220,000 circulation
Cindy Hoedel, The Kansas City Star, “Rabbit Revival”
Jackie Loohauis-Bennett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Creating More Than a Stir”
Jill Silva, The Kansas City Star, “Growing Change”
Best Newspaper Food Feature, below 125,000 circulation
Drew Lazor, Philadelphia City Paper, “Acts of Will"
Stacy Schultz, Sauce Magazine, “A Second Shot”
Katharine Shilcutt, Houston Press, “Chef Endures Cancer, Loss of Sense and Taste”
Best Non-newspaper Food Feature
Nadia Arumugam, The Atlantic, “Expired”
Todd Klimon, Washingtonian, “Everywhere at Once”
Chad Robertson, Food Arts, “Baker in the Rye”
Best Restaurant Criticism
Bobby Ampezzan, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Ian Froeb, Riverfront Times
Tejal Rao, The Village Voice
Laura Reily, Tampa Bay Times
Best Food Visual
Joaquin Herrera, The San Antonio Express-News, “S.A. Food Savvy?”
Francisco Kjolseth, Salt Lake Tribune, “Winged Salute to July 4th"
James Nielsen, The Houston Chronicle, “The Great State of Barbecue”
Richard Stokes, Reno Magazine, “Savor Summer”
Best Food Essay
Darra Goldstein, The Wall Street Journal, “A Bribe-Worthy Chicken Dish”
Todd Klimon, Washingtonian, “Champagne & Sippy Cups”
Marge Perry, Newsday, “Cupcakes That Say Love”
Best Writing on Beer, Wine and/or Spirits
Jon Bonne, San Francisco Chronicle, “Restoring a Napa Legend”
Wendy Goldman Rohm, Playboy, “The Talented Mr. K”
Jason Wilson, TableMatters.com, “When Wine Talk Gets Weird”
Best Story on Food Policy or Food Issues
Carolyn Jung, Food Arts, “Foie and Its Discontents”
Andy Mannix and Mike Mullen, City Pages, “Milk Money”
Hanna Raskin, Seattle Weekly, “Peaches and Dreams”
Best Food Column
Kellie Hynes, Sauce Magazine
Martha J. Miller, EthnoTraveler Magazine
Hanna Raskin and Dan Person, Seattle Weekly
Best Food Blog, Multiple Writers
Phoenix New Times
The Salt, NPR
Inside Scoop, San Francisco Chronicle
Best Food Multimedia Presentation
Feast magazine, Hannah Radcliff
Indy Week, D.L. Anderson and Victoria Bouloubasis
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Gretchen McKay and Steve Mellon
Best Student Writing on Food
Stephanie Parker, University of Montana writing for The Kaimin, “Investing in a
Shelby Vittek, Drexel University writing for TableMatters.com, “My Endangered Dinner”
Shelby Vittek, Drexel University writing for TableMatters.com, “Old Nordic”
Coming tomorrow: The first installment of "Burger Friday," where we'll chronicle don't-miss burgers of all stripes in the Twin Cities. Can anyone guess the origins of this beauty?
Further confirmation that Lyndale Avenue in south Minneapolis is fast becoming a culinary destination is the news that pals Lorin Zinter and Jim Christiansen are converting a former laundromat and breakfast joint into Heyday.
As little as six months ago, the property, on the southwest corner of Lyndale and 27th Street, was being eyed as a location for a Trader Joe’s. That proposal fell through, and now the somewhat down-on-its-fortunes structure is getting a thorough makeover, inside and out.
“It’s essentially going to be a new building when it’s finished,” said Zinter. "It's being gutted down to the studs."
The plan, more or less, is that the laundromat side of the building will house the full-service bar, and the footprint of the former Sunny Side-Up Cafe will house the Heyday dining room. “It’s probably going to be 40 percent bar and 60 percent restaurant,” said Zinter. “It’ll be a spot where you can drop in a few nights a week, or for a special occasion.”
Christiansen and Zinter have been scouting sites for nearly three years for their long-planned collaboration. “Oh god, I can’t even begin to count the number of places we looked at,” said Zinter. “Dozens and dozens.”
The duo met in that great Groveland Avenue talent incubator known as La Belle Vie. Zinter (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) was in the front of the house and Christiansen (pictured, below, on the rooftop at Union) was in the kitchen when the four-star restaurant made the move from Stillwater to Minneapolis in 2005.
When La Belle Vie chef Tim McKee was tapped to reinvent the Guthrie Theater’s ground-floor restaurant in 2009, creating Sea Change, both Zinter and Christiansen were recruited to play a major role in getting that ambitious venture off the ground.
Zinter is now working as the food and beverage director at the Minneapolis Club, and Christiansen just left his position as executive chef at Union.
No specifics on the food, yet – Heyday isn’t set to open until early December – but Zinter said that the menu will be determined by “what Jim is inspired by at the moment,” he said. “I’m just excited to help Jim showcase what he does so well.”
There’ll be no rest for the wicked on the weekend on May 18-19, as two of the year’s best events unfold.
Perhaps my favorite wine tasting of the year, Solo Vine’s rosé tent gala, commences in an enlarged space next to the store at 517 Selby Av. in St. Paul. There’s always super-swell food on hand and a bevy of tasty fermented grape juice.
And not just pink but white wines and plenty of that stuff with tiny bubbles. The event costs $35 and runs from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, rain or shine; call 651-602-9515 or go to solovinowines.com
I guess that means that, for me at least, Saturday the 18th will be the day to head to Minnesota Monthly’s GrillFest, where some great chefs, wine wholesalers and product purveyors will be on hand.
This one runs through Sunday, May 18 & 19, 1-5 p.m., both days, at the Depot (225 3rd Ave. S.) in Minneapolis. Tickets are $30 at Grillfestival.com or $35 at the show.
Guess I’ll have to put off the gardening chores for yet another weekend.
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