Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 8:57 a.m.
Craft cocktails and creative dishes at Borough
In a flurry of construction and creativity, a new restaurant has sprung up in the North Loop neighborhood. Borough's official opening is today, but we were invited to a preview event for a first taste and a couple of sips of what Best Bartender Jesse Held will be pouring in the downstairs bar, Parlour.
Dishes served were long on creativity, reminiscent of chefs Nick O'Leary and Tyler Shipton's time at Travail, where the two met. Our first bite was their take on a Scotch egg: diminutive quail eggs wrapped in both sausage and bacon before being fried. The result is a salty, savory bite, with a welcome, just-barely-soft yolk explosion. It's like one perfect bite of breakfast.
Cocktails included Held's twist on a French 75: gin and champagne with a lemon syrup Held made from concentrating lemon juice for hours and hours -- no sugar, just pure, sweet, tart lemon.
Beautiful wines from B Cellars were paired with each course.
Other dishes included a mild salad of slivers of endive served with grapefruit supremes, yogurt and black olive tapenade vinaigrette. A salmon dish had the fish prepared two ways: a flaky fillet topped with crispy breadcrumbs and a roulade, salmon mousse piped into a little column that was then fried (a dish they're still likely working on and might be slightly different on the finished menu).
The steak was perfectly seasoned and cooked to a rosy medium rare, served with a fat slice of matsutake mushroom that mirrored the steak texture. The dish was robust in flavor, with a delicate amount of shaved black truffles, accompanied by a succulent mix of oxtail and marscapone cheese, stuffed into a ravioli.
Not your average take on steak
The menu is broken out into "small," "medium," and "large" plates and will change seasonally.
The room is wide open, with a moderate sound level as the room filled with guests. Clever light fixtures hang over tables made out of cheese graters. It's sleek and hip, just like the neighborhood.
Downstairs the Parlour space is still under construction, but the long, dark wood bar has been installed. Held says they have collected over 25 types of glasses, most of them vintage, that will be used for his craft cocktails. He's assembled a team of mixers that he has worked with throughout his career at places like Eat Street Social, Marvel Bar, and the Town Talk Diner.
Unlike other craft cocktail spots, guests won't have to wait ages for overly fussy drinks. The plan is to send bartenders around with carts to mix drinks tableside. Parlour will be as much about the expertly crafted drinks as it will be a neighborhood joint where friends can gather and hang out. Plus, food will be served downstairs as well. That menu is still under construction (we're hoping for a few more of those little Scotch eggs; they would pair perfectly with a little Manhattan action).
Borough and Parlour
730 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis