Monday, November 19, 2012 at 8:27 a.m.
Melgaard and Kim tell us their favorite restaurants
E. Katie Holm
It's relatively rare -- maybe even a blue moon-level occasion -- for a chef, particularly one at a new restaurant, to be able to go out on the town and have someone else cook for them. So when local chefs do get a chance to get away from their own kitchens, where do they choose to eat? This Chef's Day Off series reveals some of the lusted-after dishes and top restaurant picks of the talented people who shape our local food scene.
The first featured food professionals in our series are Kat Melgaard and Thomas Kim, partners in life and in business at the Left Handed Cook, a popular new stall at Midtown Global Market serving up creative Korean soul food. The pair are recent transplants from L.A. but have taken to seeking out the restaurants in and around their Minneapolis neighborhood with great gusto. "It's a blessing for us that there are so many good, interesting places in our immediate area," says Melgaard. "I still seem to get lost in Minneapolis."
All the dishes here are great, but the thing I have to get every time I go is the aaloo achaar and the bhatmaas. The aaloo achaar has a great blend of spice, salt, and acid, with a nutty creaminess from the sauce. The bhatmaas is a great snack for me to start with. It has great texture, and the soy nuts pair well with tomato and cilantro.
This place is also in our neck of the woods -- apparently we don't venture far. We love the food here. It's simple and no-fuss, but flavorful and filling. We always order the llapingachos, because Kat loves cheese and potatoes, like a true Midwest girl! Plus it's just fun to say. The yuca fritas are always on order as well: Crunchy, starchy in a good way, and spicy. Plus you get some tartness from the aji sauce.
Butcher & the Boar:
I'd be surprised if B & B doesn't pop up on a lot of other chefs' lists. Jack [Riebel] makes meaty goodness, and that, paired with a bourbon flight, is a great way to spend some time off from the kitchen. The double-cut Berkshire pork chop is the dish I always order. Jack makes other amazing dishes, but somehow this dish seems to make it to our table every time. Pork chop and proof-of-age bourbon flight = done deal.
As a fellow Korean cook, I admire the drive that Ann Kim has to create a product that she loves. The end result is a product we also love. As far as specific pizzas, The Iowan, the Lady Zaza, and My Sharoni are on the top of our list, but the Iowan edges out the other pies by a hair. We love grabbing a seat at the bar and ordering some olives and the Iowan and washing it all down with some Crispin.
3 Tiers Bakery:
This is a restaurant that fits under the same umbrella that the Left Handed Cook finds itself. A bit of this and that with a splash of more stuff for good measure. The couple that owns the restaurant are super cool and friendly. A bit of added trivia: Kat and Sarah (the owner) worked together at a Mexican restaurant when they were in college in North Dakota. (Small world.) We always order different things from the menu, but I love one thing in particular: The Irish Car Bomb cupcake is killer! Not overly sweet, which is something I appreciate because I don't seem to have a sweet tooth. The frosting is creamy and has a great, smooth "mouthfeel" (I hate that word but I couldn't think of a better one).
Doug Flicker could cook an old shoe and I would eat it. Contrary to what people think, Piccolo definitely fits the bill for everyday eats and not just special occasions. Piccolo managed to impress my parents who have never had foams or gels of any sort. The eggs and trotters and duck egg pot de creme are usually on the menu and on our table.