Best Neighborhood Cafe (Minneapolis) - 2009
You wouldn't expect a restaurant this tiny to draw the attention of New York City's James Beard Foundation, but Corner Table has proved both to its neighbors and big-city foodiephiles that good cuisine can come in small packages. Owner Scott Pampuch and his cohort Lisa Hanson are among the best-versed chefs in town when it comes to working with local meats, so ordering, say, the grass-fed steak, braised oxtail, or coq au vin pretty much guarantees deliciousness. And when produce season arrives, the two can really show their stuff with Minnesota tomatoes, sweet corn, and the like. Recently Pampuch started taking his farm-fresh philosophy beyond the restaurant's bounds by supplying Rustica bakery and Kopplin's coffee shop with deli sandwiches—basically taking the best things from Corner Table's kitchen and putting 'em between two slices of bread. Also, this summer Pampuch plans to launch a series of Sunday suppers called Tour de Farm, in which a Twin Cities chef with a strong local-food commitment cooks a meal in situ, so diners can appreciate what's going into their mouths, as well as the place that made it all possible.