“We’re going to be doing American craft food, beer and bourbon.”
That’s how chef Jack Riebel (pictured, above) is describing Butcher and the Boar, the 150-seat restaurant and bar he’s opening in mid-December at 1121 Hennepin Av. S. in downtown Minneapolis.
Notice that ‘gastropub’ is nowhere in sight. It’s intentional.
“I’m reluctant to use that word because it’s overused, and I don’t like,” Riebel said. “Craft represents something more artisanal, and something more focused on what we do, which will be preparing great ingredients well, and offering top craft beers. And bourbon, which is the most American thing of all.”
Riebel, who spent the past six years running the show at the nearby Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant, isn’t talking a lot of specifics on food just yet, but the restaurant’s name offers a lot of clues. “We’ve already sourced a free-range, wild-caught boar [from Texas] and we’ll put a few items up around that,” he said. “We’re looking at finding a single-source pork, and we’re going to do some game meats.”
One emphasis will be charcuterie, but with a bit of a twist: Crafted (there’s that word again) sausages and beer sticks, for starters, some taking advantage of the smoker that Riebel is installing in the restaurant’s basement, which will be perfect for the smoked fish salads that he did so beautifully at the Dakota. “But not barbecue, we won’t be doing barbecue,” he said. “We want to define ourselves as something different from what everyone else is doing.”
Riebel’s right-hand guy in the kitchen is chef Peter Botcher, who has Barbette, Levain and Tilia on his resume, and the bar will be managed by Jerald Hanson, a Manny’s, Barrio and Bar La Grassa vet.
To introduce themselves to the neighborhood, Riebel & Co. are teaming up with the nearby Bullfrog Cajun Bar and throwing a party in the parking lot next door to the building, taking place from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 2nd. Look for live music — by the Dave King Trucking Company — as well as beer, wine and food. “Maybe we’ll have some examples of what you’ll be eating when the restaurant is open,” said Riebel.
Butcher and the Boar is the second bit of good news for that underperforming corner; a new and much-needed Lunds supermarket is under construction across the street. The restaurant’s new home, a former law office, doesn’t look like much on the outside (pictured, above), at least from the sidewalk. “That whole facade is going to change,” said Riebel.
But it’s a different story from the alley, where a large, semi-private garden and parking lot (pictured, below), complete with a few mature shade trees, is going to be converted into downtown Minneapolis’ first beer garden, with a 150-seat patio and its own bar. “I’ve always thought that the Brit’s rooftop patio is genius, and we want to capture some of that greatness on the ground floor,” he said.
Right now the plan is to skip lunch and concentrate on dinner, happy hour and late-night (“Well, Minnesota late-night, probably midnight,” said Riebel), with the possibility of weekend brunch down the road. The bar will feature 30 tap craft beers, and “as many bourbons as we see fit,” he said.
I asked if he’s been up to his knuckles in bourbon research. “Only for the last 20 years or so,” he said with a laugh.