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Saint Dinette & Revival: The Next Gen of Top Restaurants

Why should the super-fancy places get all the critical love?


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When you think of top-tier restaurants in town, in the traditional sense, the list is pretty easy to make: Spoon and Stable, Meritage, Bellecour, Alma. All have great wine lists, excellent service, valet parking, lovely facilities—they feel like four stars. But as the way we eat has changed, the definition of "top tier" should change, too.

I give you two St. Paul candidates: Revival and Saint Dinette. Both have chefs worthy of a James Beard finalist nomination, Thomas Boemer of Revival (and Corner Table) and Adam Eaton of Saint Dinette. Both chefs are known for super-casual foods: Boemer's fried chicken in Minneapolis elevated him in popular dining more than his incredible food at the more upscale Corner Table while Eaton's cheeseburger and bologna sandwich bring the popular-dining public into Lowertown in St. Paul.

The same care and precision both of them bring to "low" cooking they bring to "high" cooking, as well.

On Mondays at Revival, Boemer creates what TV chef Andrew Zimmern called "one of the top 3" pastramis in America.


PHOTO BY JASON DERUSHA

It's beautiful: the bark/crust is loaded with black pepper and whole-seed coriander. It's full of spice and flavor, and the pastrami brisket is redolent of smoke, with the right amount of fattiness. It's truly spectacular. Every other day you can enjoy the dry-rubbed ribs, and the smoked pork belly is awesome. I love the fried green tomatoes, collard greens, and stewed okra. At the Minneapolis Revival, you can still get the incredible chicken and everything except the barbecue—but trust me, that BBQ is worth going to St. Paul.


PHOTO BY JASON DERUSHA

Boemer was a semifinalist for the Best Chef: Midwest award last year, and he is more than worthy of making it to the final list this year. Boemer's busy with three restaurants and a spot inside U.S. Bank Stadium, but his team of chefs and cooks is top notch—the sign of a great leader.

It's challenging to go to Saint Dinette and not order Eaton's cheeseburger. If you must, get it as an appetizer, cut it into small pieces, and share it. I'm telling you this because the rest of this menu is truly top notch. The smoked oysters are plump, briny, and perfectly smoky—served with an addictive house-made hot sauce and saltines.


PHOTO BY JASON DERUSHA

The tartare right now is served on homemade potato bread with smoked tallow and egg. Whoa. We adored the gorgeous trout: served as a whole fish, but Eaton takes the head and tail off, debones it, and reassembles it for serving. It looks like a simple dish with beurre blanc (an emulsified butter sauce), herbs, and roe—but it's deceptively complex to execute at this level.


PHOTO BY JASON DERUSHA

The real show-stopper was an Old Bay capellini, served with blue crab, sea beans, and parmesan. I've never had a dish like it; the flavor of the sea infused every bite of pasta. And it was just $15.


PHOTO BY JASON DERUSHA

Both of these chefs have fine dining training (Eaton at La Belle Vie, Boemer with Chef Alain Ducasse in Las Vegas), and they're bringing that technique to their casual, fun restaurants. They deserve the critical acclaim to go along with the popular acclaim from those of us who can't stop thinking about their food.

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

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