French Hen's creole biscuits and gravy: 50 Favorite Dishes, no. 41

A hearty breakfast made with heart
A hearty breakfast made with heart

Ashley Quinn

As a countdown to the Best of the Twin Cities 2013, coming April 17, the Hot Dish is serving up 50 of our favorite local dishes.

While this St. Paul cafe is decidedly a Francophone venture, serving simple and generous salad Nicoise, croque monsieur, and fruit and berry crepes, French Hen's menu also extends into the American south, where the biscuits are buttery and Creole culture is alive and well.

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For a humble dish like biscuits and gravy, there are actually a lot of elements at play, which means a lot of chances for things to go awry. Biscuits can be undercooked and thickly doughy, or too dry and lacking that tender quality one expects from anything made with such a crazy amount of butter. The gravy can go lumpy, break up, be oversalted -- or worse, totally bland. But when everything comes together, savory breakfast magic happens. That's precisely the experience we had with French Hen's Creole biscuits and gravy.

French Hen makes all its biscuits fresh each morning, allowing enough time to get a thorough bake on them, creating a tender yet sturdy backdrop for the spicy sausage gravy. The roux-based sauce that goes on top has a wonderful creaminess but still stays light and interesting thanks to the good dash of pepper and bit of paprika and cayenne mixed in with the finely ground pork sausage. 

Served with two eggs any way you like them and a pile of brightly colored, slightly burnished root vegetable hash, this thoughtfully prepared dish served in a charming cafe setting has quickly made its way to the top of the list of our favorite breakfasts in town.

50 Favorite Dishes:

No. 50: Somos Peru's crema volteada
No. 49: Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub's waffle battered chicken sandwich
No. 48: Namaste Cafe's bison mamacha
No. 47: MidNord's Argentinian empanadas
No. 46: Krungthep's Thai sausage
No. 45: Eat Shop's shrimp salad
No. 44: Icehouse's savory eclair
No. 43: Cajun 2 Geaux's beignets                                                                                                                No. 42: A Cupcake Social's dulce de leche cupcake

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