When Serlin's Cafe closed in 2013 after nearly 60 years in business, the Payne-Phalen community was right to mourn its loss. The place was the stuff of American diner legend. But after a refresh, rebrand, and full restaffing, the cozy spot reopened as Cook St. Paul, serving reinvented breakfast favorites, Korean comfort food, and a cream of turkey wild rice soup that was worth ordering even in the sweltering summer heat.
In addition to various types of hot dish, a volcanic Jucy Lucy, and apparently the infamous grape salad, wild rice soup is perhaps the most iconic of all Minnesota foods, which means everyone has an opinion on it. Cook's is absolutely ideal: The texture is creamy, never gloopy, deep with the flavor of caramelized mirepoix, thyme-scented broth, lots of still-toothsome wild rice, and shreds of nicely seasoned white and dark meat -- simple and so tasty. At lunchtime, a bowl comes with a homemade roll and, charmingly, its own lore. Cook's owner Eddie Wu tells us that without this soup, the restaurant might have never been.
"That soup is what got us our loan," says Wu. "Our banker was kind of old-school and wanted to try some of our food before giving the go-ahead. We gave them soup and a slice of cake, and that did it."
Truthfully, it sealed the deal for us, too.
100: The Pickle Dog from the Minnesota State Fair 99: Mademoiselle Miel's Honey Bon-Bons 98: Giant Pretzel at New Bohemia 97: Kopplin's Breve 96: Corn Chowder at Barrio 95: Crescent Moon's House Special Football-Shaped Pizza 94: Buffalo Tots at the Blue Door Pub 93: Duck Burger at the Happy Gnome 92: Mac's Industrial Tuna Melt 91: Toast Bar at Canteen 90: Sonora Grill's Eggplant Fries 89: Brasa's Pineapple Ginger Ale 88: The Freehouse's Cheese Curds with Quince Jam 87: Black Coffee and Waffle Bar's Naughty Waffle 86: Czar Jack at Town Hall Brewery 85: Soft-Shell Crab Fried Rice at Tiny Diner 84: Sanduche de Pollo at Chimborazo 83: Grand Café's Eggs en Cocotte 82: Pollo Tacos at Las Teresitas 81: Chicken Tikka Masala at Himalayan Restaurant 80: Cornmeal Galette with Ham and Sweet Corn from Black Walnut Bakery 79: Cheddar Biscuits and Gravy at the Third Bird 78: The Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich at Lake and Irving 77: The Larry from Taco Cat 76: Lobster and Eggs from Eat Street Social 75: New York Strip with Trumpet Royale Mushrooms from Sparks 74: Icehouse's Sipping Shots 73: The Prairie Dog at Prairie Dogs 72: Dr. IPA at Public Kitchen & Bar 71: Patisserie 46's Éclair 70: Dong Hae's Korean Style Chicken Wings 69: Birchwood's Black Bottom Coconut Cream Pie 68: Coup d'Etat's Gnocchi 67: Egg, Cheddar & Bacon Biscuit Sandwich at Colossal Cafe 66: Red Wagon Pizza's Sausage Espagnole 65: Verdant Tea's Chinese Hash 64: The St. Paul Cheese Shop's Chorizo Sandwich 63: House of Curry's Pol Roti 62: Goat Cheese Curds from the Curious Goat 61: Post-Dessert Dessert at Spoon and Stable 60: Table-Side Caesar Salad from the Salt Cellar 59: Nam-Khao from On's Thai Kitchen 58: Poutine at Triple Rock 57: Black Sheep's Meatball, Ricotta, and Garlic Pizza 56: Eli's East's Pistachio Cheesecake 55: Shrimp and Grits at Smack Shack 54: The Southside at World Street Kitchen 53: Size 7 from Steel Toe Brewing 52: Khao Soi at Sen Yai Sen Lek 51: Burger, Fries, and Hamm's at Nightingale 50: The Delmonico Steak at Capital Grille 49: Foie Gras at Cosmos 48: Braised Pork Tostadas at Sanctuary 47: Bucatini Bolognese at Lyn 65 46: Sauerkraut Grilled Cheese at Gyst Fermentation Bar 45: Frozen Blood Orange Parfait at the Kenwood 44: Deep Dish Sausage Pizza at Davanni's 43: Lengua Burrito from El Taco Riendo 42: Slice from Hello Pizza 41: Tagliarini di Locanda del Lupo at Broder's 40: House Hot Dog at Kyatchi 39: Big Boy Ranch Plate from Chef Shack Ranch 38: Seared Salmon with Ginger, Scallion, and Sweet Soy at Quang 37: Corn Pancakes at Maria's Cafe 36: 'Nduja Egg Raviolo at Bar La Grassa 35: A to Z Pizza Farm Pizza 34: Fried Dumplings at Far East 33: Dutch Baby at Libertine 32: Coney Island Dog at Heartland 31: Japanese Fried Chicken (JFC) at Moto-i 30: The Calabrian at Terzo's Porchetteria 29: Siberian Pelmeni at Moscow on the Hill 28: 25-Cent Small Treats at Burch
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