Best New Restaurant - 2012
If you made a Venn diagram with three circles titled accessibility, affordability, and delectability, very few restaurants would fall in the small area where all three intersect. If you've been fortunate enough to score one of the 14 tables at Tilia in the charming neighborhood of Linden Hills, you likely already made the observation that for a restaurant that feels as comfortable as a worn-in pair of clogs, the food is fantastically refined and a shoe-in for best new restaurant. After years of honing his skills at big-time eateries like Levain, Lucia's, and Porter & Frye, part owner and executive culinary director Steven Joel Brown just couldn't let the dream of running his own place die, and Minneapolis is so much better for it. The dish of bitter braised greens with bourbon and smoked chicken, though listed on the menu as a simple side, is a complex festival of flavors and practically a meal unto itself. Craving something heartier? Beef cheeks in red wine with warm, Christmasy chestnut polenta and sweet and seedy charred figs is comfort food redefined. But Brown doesn't enforce an uppity agenda. You'll regularly hear the sounds of PBRs being cracked open by the kitchen staff, and the BLT hot dog is one of the best things on the menu.