Town Talk vs. Psycho Suzi's deep-fried asparagus
'Tis the season for asparagus: The local crop is just hitting co-op shelves, and today Black Forest Inn on Nicollet kicks off Spargelfest, its celebration of the spring spears, continuing through May 30.
Hot Dish decided to do its part promoting local and seasonal foods by staging an asparagus food fight: deep-fried, natch. Read on to see how the tempura asparagus at Town Talk Diner fared against the beer-battered asparagus at Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge.
The tempura asparagus at Town Talk ($6.50) is sprinkled with chives and served piled atop a platter covered with a thin layer of Thai chili sauce. The batter is light and salty, and the sauce provides a spicy contrast. Diners who dislike spicy food would do well to request the sauce on the side, since the bottom pieces of asparagus quickly soak up the chili sauce.
Suzi's fried asparagus ($6.95) is unpretentious. It comes with "rock sauce" on the side, which glows orange like nacho cheese but has a spicier finish. The dish is honest bar food: It might leave greasy marks on the plastic paper lining the serving dish, and there's the occasional limp spear, but it's an excellent way to soak up the boozy tiki drinks Suzi's serves.
The Winner: It was fun to test the rum-retention capabilities of Suzi's asparagus, but Town Talk's tempura asparagus won our tastebuds. The presentation is pretty, and the light tempura batter lets you pretend you're just getting a daily dose of veggies, rather than scarfing down deep-fried bar food. It's a dish that doesn't have to hide in the dim light of a tiki torch to entice you. But if you're comfortable admitting your love of greasy bar fare even before downing a few coconuts full of punch, then Suzi's fried asparagus might be more your style.
Bonus: We'll be at Spargelfest Fest tonight, and on Monday we'll report back how the Black Forest Inn's deep-fried asparagus stacks up against these two.
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