One food item booming in sales and cache for a whole damn decade is not a "trend," it's an era. Bacon Social House, now open in downtown Minneapolis, is betting the reign of smoked pork belly is only just beginning.
It's a big bet, too: Bacon Social House is large -- more like a bacon mansion, really -- and occupies prime real estate a few blocks from U.S. Bank Stadium.
Opened as an abuttment of the (also new) Canopy by Hilton hotel, the Minneapolis branch is Bacon Social House's third, following two in in the Denver area. Both metros regularly rank among the "fittest" in America, signaling bacon's inclusion as an acceptable protein... as long as you bike to work and do 100 burpees next to your desk every hour.
I'd come to investigate as a try-anything-twice omnivore, and, as an experiment, brought with a co-worker who doesn't eat meat and hasn't for years.
Perusing the drinks, you might be tempted by a "signature bacon bloody mary," or another of BSH's cocktails featuring its favorite ingredient. You are a fool.
Unless your love of the stuff approaches Ron Swanson's, there's no need to start a bacon-themed meal with a bacon-flavored drink. Think coffee, light beer, or something citrusy. And water. Lots of water. Restaurant food is more generously salted than home cooking (that's why it's better), so a meal at a bacon joint means your blood's salinity will soon be approaching that of the Mediterranean.
About that bacon: It's good, chewy with a subtle crust, nicely darkened, more meaty than crunchy. (If you prefer flat little shards of smoke, try Perkin's... oh, wait.)
A "flight" ($5) of three varieties (BSH slings six in total) found the habanero has a fat-masked spice that evades the tongue and attacks the back of your throat; a "candied" slice was too salty and too sweet; a "paleo" variety was simpler, less salty, and a clear winner.
Brunch here runs until 4 p.m., with a predictably pork-laden roster of dishes that'll run you $12-$17. (Click here for the Minneapolis brunch menu, and here for dinner.) For lunch on a hot day, a fried chicken sandwich ($15.50) felt like the better option.
It was crispy, tasty, topped with crunchy coleslaw and -- wait for it -- two slices of bacon, making for a total of six, counting three in the flight and one that comes with the bloody.
Add in the NaCl inherent to a bloody, sweet potato fries, and fried chicken, and I was feeling like Lot's wife. The lesson: Arrive hydrated, ingest liquids that aren't grease, and try experimenting with the menu options that are not Bacon Social House's namesake. (More on that from our vegetarian reviewer below.) -Mike Mullen
I haven’t had bacon in about 30 years. Same deal with pork chops, deli ham, hot dogs, or sausage.
So I wasn’t expecting much when I sat down for a meal at the Bacon Social House. I’ve cracked open many a meat-focused menu to find that I would be dining on the token veggie dish, and I know how to cobble a pretty okay meal together from side items. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case here. And that was one of several surprises.
First, when dining at a place with a name like this, you expect to be greeted by the wafting scent of smokey, salty meat. Hell, it’s reasonable to expect this when walking into a breakfast diner or greasy spoon. Waffle House smells like bacon. Somehow, BSH doesn't.
The contradictions continue with the decor and ambiance, which is perfectly nice, but never truly goes whole hog, so to speak, opting for an understated approach. TVs visible from the bar aired some sort of hunting show where a group of men were hauling a deer carcass out of the woods.
A mural on the main wall features a variety of anonymous characters, all hungry for pork. One man gazes lustily... either in the direction of a pig or a blond woman in pigtails strumming a guitar. Minnesota’s patron saint -- and noted vegetarian -- Prince is in the upper right hand corner, rocking out and abstaining from bacon from beyond the grave.
The menu features a shit ton of vegetarian and gluten-free options. Want appetizers? You can have at least two of the six. Same with the salads, plus a couple vegetable-and-egg dishes. Stay on-trend with your bacon-crazed friends by Instagramming a picture of avocado toast.
Even hotter these days: They have a Beyond Burger.
And it’s totally yummy. Is it unique? Naw. Innovative? Nope. Not topping it with vegan bacon seems like a missed opportunity on BSH's part, but there’s nothing wrong here.
Honestly, as a non-bacon eater I felt like this place catered to me as much or more than a true bacon lover. I am not complaining. If for some reason you’re a vegetarian looking for a decent meal at a bacon-themed restaurant, now you've got one good option. -Jessica Armbruster