Butcher and the Boar hosts block party
Over the weekend, chef Jack Riebel shared, for the first time, a small taste of what he plans to serve at his new venture, the Butcher and the Boar, with a party that livened up a sleepy block in downtown Minneapolis.
On Sunday afternoon the parking lot next to the once-vacant, marble-front building was filled with bands, neighbors, dogs, kids, and charred pork sausages. His sous chef, Peter Botcher, who was most recently cooking at Tilia, was manning the grill. We were able to chat with them for a moment about the hotly anticipated new spot as well as sample some of the food.
"We joke that he's the butcher and I'm the bore," Riebel laughed, explaining that it's Botcher's sausage expertise that was on display this unseasonably warm, sunny day. The boar sausage we sampled was charred crisp on the outside and studded with small globules of pork fat on the interior. The rosy interior had a mysterious flavor not unlike andouille, but not nearly so spicy, a bit like a Polish, but not so meager in texture. We asked what he made the sausage with.
"Oh, some boar," answered Botcher blithely. And? "Some pork shoulder, pork fat, bay leaf, chile flake, garlic, thyme, and ... some other stuff." It was served alongside a lively slaw of mild roasted peppers, crispy tortilla bits, and a salty cotija cheese--another delight.
They were also serving house-made pretzel rods that Riebel called "the real deal, dipped in lye and served with a cheese sauce, but of course it's a house-made cheese sauce. We're using Havarti cheese right now, which isn't traditional, but whatever. We like it." We did, too. It was a pungent perfume of aged milk turned otherworldly, gooey, soft, and smooth, coating the salty, crispy exterior of the dough.
The beer on hand was local and the bluegrass tunes plentiful. Neighboring restaurant the Bullfrog was also serving some of its Cajun-influenced fare.
It's certain this block could use a little livening up. The space the Butcher and the Boar will occupy is a building currently sporting a broken window pane like a black eye. Plans from powerhouse restaurant design firm Shea showed a giant Adam Turman mural exterior and a long, open dining room. The promise of an extensive bourbon list has drawn nearly as much enthusiasm as the prospect of Riebel's food.
If the overflowing parking lot on Sunday was any indication, Riebel had better get his kitchen fired up before the line starts forming outside the door.
Butcher & the Boar
1121 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis
Anticipated opening mid-December
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