From the beginning, Borough was supposed to be a neighborhood place, a place to serve the many denizens of the many sleek condo buildings of the North Loop and maybe the many chefs spilling out into the streets after work who needed to eat somewhere, anywhere, that wasn't their own kitchen. But somewhere along the line, as the kitchen crew cooked, headed up by Tyler Shipton, Nick O'Leary, Joe Rolle (now of Il Foro) and LaShaw Castellano (now of Brasserie Zentral) the place turned into a rare, particular, exclusive powerhouse. Sort of fine dining meets progressive cuisine meets Brooklyn. There wasn't anyplace like it. It just had that thing.
While they're still doing that progressive menu at dinner (chilled beet soup with watermelon, tomato, roquefort and hazelnut; or veal with sweetbreads, pickled ramp gribiche, arugula, pecorino and egg yolk) they seem to be trending toward that friendly neighborhood place after all, during at their new Monday through Friday lunch hours.
Service is no small thing in any restaurant, and no matter how precise the cooking, if the service is no good, you won't go back. The lunch server at Borough was some of the best in recent memory, dashing in front of us to open a door, for instance, offering a preemptive overview of signature dishes, always being on hand but not obnoxiously so, and acting anticipatory in ways that lots of places can't manage during a swank dinner. So kudos to Borough for nailing that.
That chilled beet soup appears at lunch, but otherwise the menu is a compendium of familiar faves— the famous Parlour burger, a pastrami sandwich, chicken wings, salads, even a chicken sandwich. It's appealing New American that won't have you scratching your head or reaching for your Google machine to figure out what the hell "cremoso" is.
You can order, dine, and be easily back to work in the allotted hour (thanks in part to that fine service).
A flank steak salad with romaine, salsa verde, avocado, cherry tomato, queso fresco and cilantro was clean and classic, with properly cooked meat and served in a proportion easily shareable for two. A cavatelli with smoked chicken, oyster mushroom, preserved tomato, arugula and pecorino was nice, pleasant and just exactly what it promised!
Pro tip: order the house made dill and vinegar potato chips, delicate as layers of chiffon, devourable as, well, potato chips. And a $3 way to make the medicine of the second half of the work day go down.
Oh! And the little slip of a patio is a fine way to take in these ever dissipating days of summer.
If what the neighborhood wanted was a friendly cafe, now they've got it, at least during the day.
Think of it like your buttoned-up cubemate who always wears one of those "office to nighttime" fashion ensembles. She can slip off the cardigan and bang! Chic as she wants to be.
But tomorrow a.m. you know the slacks will be back. Versatility is a virtue.
Borough lunch hours: 11a.m. to 2p.m. Monday-Friday
730 North Washington Ave., Mpls.