BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ—MINNEAPOLIS - 2006
Neighborhoods are filled with nothing so much as lots ofs neighbors, and in Kingfield, those neighbors can pretty much be divided into two camps: those who have significant caches of rare vinyl LPs, and those who remember how things used to be, back in the day. All of these neighbors find happiness, respite, and succor in chef and owner Scott Pampuch's friendly little restaurant Corner Table, which has, for nearly two years, been working to be a little more than a restaurant—it's a community joy. The Sunday Night Suppers are remarkable—that's when Pampuch sets a turntable up on the wine bar and invites customers and neighbors, such as kitty-corner record store Roadrunner, to lend tunes for the evening, so that neighbors can enjoy wine flights along with their hearty entrees, such as a grilled pork loin made with figs and shallots and served with whipped butternut squash puree ($17). There's plenty on tap for those who remember how things used to be, for instance, that pork loin, as well as all the meats served at Corner Table, come from local farms, just like they did back in the day when food wasn't something provided centrally by Sysco. (Old-timers also appreciated the recent week that Corner Table dedicated to recreating the menu of a long-ago former occupant, the fondly remembered Lufrano's, replete with the restaurant's venerable meatball recipe.) Of course, Corner Table works for the neighborhood in other ways, such as cooking for 300 for a community fundraiser and art auction. As if it weren't providing enough community togetherness already, Corner Table just brought back its famous Sunday breakfast (don't call it brunch, but don't ask us why), offering rib-stickers such as creamy, toasty grits, made with Italian sausage gravy and served with fried eggs; or grill-finished braised beef and eggs. In other neighborhoods good fences make good neighbors—in Kingfield good restaurants do.