Minnesota poutine at 328 Grill

Sometimes a chef gets a reputation for a certain dish. For Mik German, it's the devilishly good combination of two Minnesota icons in one bowl. The first time I had the Minnesota poutine was at a downtown St. Paul dive bar where German had remade the menu.

Now he's bringing that good bar food to an American Legion post — the 328 Grill in St. Paul Park. Minnesota poutine is listed as an appetizer ($11), but it's really a few different entrees masquerading as a snack. It's part hot dish, part creamy wild rice soup and entirely inspired. Crispy Tater Tots and cheese curds from Wisconsin's Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery are doused with the best creamy wild rice soup this side of Granny's table. The kitchen team makes the soup from scratch every day and it's a flawless execution: rich cream, crunchy vegetable and earthy wild rice. Pure unadulterated comfort.

The dish might be meant to be shared, but it's also acceptable to eat on its own as a main — there is blessedly little difference between this and a scoop of Tater Tot hot dish — except that in this iteration, you don't have to do the dishes. (Joy Summers)

American Legion Post 28, 328 Broadway Av., St. Paul Park, 651-459-8016, 328grill.com, Kitchen hours 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Also available at James Ballentine VFW Post 246, uptownvfw.org.

Whole Fried Branzini at Union Hmong Kitchen

I never once had the gall to microwave fish in my office pantry, though on multiple occasions I wish I did.

I finally redeemed myself during a recent visit to chef Yia Vang's stall at Graze Provisions and Libations food hall in Minneapolis' North Loop. Emboldened and hungry, I nudged between strangers, elbows grazing, and pried apart a whole, fried branzino fish ($35) that's been smothered with a fermented crab sauce that filled the air with the kind of feral funk that only its progenitor could love. Not once did I look up from my plate.

The whole dish (meant for two, but fed a singular yours truly) is a delicious cornucopia of colors — bright green herbs, perky little gems, pickled cucumber, purple sticky rice (splendidly chewy) and that crimson curry, which was sticky and full of depth. I marveled at how crisp the branzino skin was — it gleamed under the blue strobe light, welts and all, and crackled with every bite. The flesh was sweet. (Jon Cheng)

520 N. 4th St., Mpls., 612-431-5285, unionkitchenmn.com. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.

Smothered Breakfast Burrito Platter from Buttered Tin

Who has time to make brunch? Definitely not this mom of two little ones. So, on two recent occasions of having friends over on a weekend morning, I've relied on the family-style platters from the Buttered Tin to keep my company fed. The cafe and bakery, which originated in Lowertown St. Paul and expanded to northeast Minneapolis last fall, has a delectable menu of breakfast treats. But the smothered burritos have been a favorite — they're hearty, tasty and easily carried with one hand while chasing a toddler.

The burritos are stuffed with refried beans, hash browns, chorizo, scrambled eggs and farmers cheese, and come with pico de gallo and salsa roja on the side. A platter ($53) can feed eight to 10 people. You can also bulk-order the smashed avocado toast or a pancakes-bacon-and-eggs feast — the maple bacon butter is divine. (Sharyn Jackson)

2445 NE. Marshall St., Mpls., 612-234–4224; 237 E. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-224–2300; thebutteredtin.com. Open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily.

Corned Wagyu at the Bungalow Club

Who would look at a hunk of wagyu, the premium beef prized for its high fat content and luxurious texture, and think "How can we make this more tender?" Chef/owner Andrew Kraft was dubious when one of his cooks suggested marinating and braising the beef the traditional Irish way. "And then I tried it," Kraft said. The supple texture and punchy flavor won him over and he added it to the current menu.

A modest amount of meat is corned, a process usually reserved for the toughest part of the animal to break down the connective tissue. Since wagyu is already tender, the process instead renders an ethereal piece of meat. Paired with a tart salad of sweet carrots and charred shredded cabbage and dressed with honey mustard sauce over creamy puréed rutabaga, it's an irresistible juxtaposition of flavors. The shellacked sweet crust around the meat plunges each bite into a depths of savory satiation.

It's a little slice of attainable luxury that hits the sweet spot for early March and St. Patrick's Day pregaming. Find it as part of Kraft's three-course tasting menu ($41) available Thursday through Sunday. But don't rush out quite yet — they're closed until March 10 for a planned winter break. (J.S.)

4300 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-866-3334, thebungalowclubmpls.com, 4-10 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 4-9 p.m. Sun.

Lasagna from Fast Eddie's Pizza

A reader wrote in a few weeks ago suggesting that I try what he called "a slice of heaven on Earth." That's the lasagna from Fast Eddie's, a neighborhood pizza place in south Minneapolis. And I'm grateful for the nudge.

There's nothing avant-garde about this lasagna; it's just a solid, comforting, stick-to-your-ribs kind of dinner made by layering pasta sheets with three cheeses, nicely spiced Italian sausage and "Eddie's sauce" (marinara, bright and a little sweet).

A hefty slice for only $8.95, with a piece of garlic bread, fed two of us and then some. (S.J.)

4747 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-822-0704, fasteddiespizzamenu.com. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 4-9 p.m. Sun.

Correction: The Minnesota Poutine is available at the American Legion Post 328 in St. Paul Park and James Ballentine VFW Post 246 in Uptown Minneapolis. A previous version of the story was incorrect.