Two Guys Walk into a Bar

It looked like a slab of spam—only less pink. The rosy meat rectangle had been drizzled with a white-as-snow sauce, and a few blue-cheese crumbles and some bits of yellowish-green vegetable served as garnish. I guessed celery. “Those are the Buffalo wings?” Eric said, skeptically.

It was Friday night, and Pat’s Tap was packed. The Minneapolis gastro pub had opened just two weeks earlier, but word had clearly gotten out. “There’s an hour wait,” the host had advised us, barely audible above the clank of pints and din of conversation. Like every eatery owned by Kim Bartmann—the force behind the Bryant-Lake Bowl, Barbette, Red Stag Supperclub, and Bread & Pickle—Pat’s Tap, her newest creation, seemed to have cool baked right in. The vibe was eclectic: young men in skinny jeans, girls sporting vintage specs, bling-wearing lesbians drinking Surly, an unshaven sixty-year-old in a seed cap nursing a Pabst. We found some seats at the bar and ordered the Buffalo wings.

“Dara said it’s delicious,” I reassured Eric, poking at the pink slab.

Once again, the counsel of Minnesota Monthly’s Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, our food critic and the author of this month’s cover story on the “Best New Restaurants,” had nudged us into unfamiliar territory. Over the years, following her advice, we’d eaten oyster po’boys, fresh ramen, foie-gras meatballs, and even pizza topped with eggs and pork jowl. Every month, it’s my job to read through Dara’s reviews before publication, and every month I find myself making a list of new things to try.

I wasn’t sure, though, about the wings. The dish had all the elements of Buffalo wings—the orange tinge, the whiff of spice, blue-cheese dressing, a celery garnish—but there wasn’t a chicken bone in sight. These were wings as only Picasso could’ve imagined them. “It’s a terrine,” I explained to Eric. “That’s French for meat loaf but fancier.” He shot me a look.

We dug in, chewed, tasted, swallowed, and licked our lips. It was cold, tender, and tangy—with all of the flavors of Buffalo wings but none of the grease. “It’s good,” said Eric, taking a second forkful. “I know,” I said, as if I’d never had a doubt. After all, Dara had promised it would be.

Joel Hoekstra, Editor


Terri Peterson Smith Terri Peterson Smith has written numerous stories about science, health, and the environment for regional and national magazines. This month, she digs into the topic of adoption—visiting with families who have adopted children from orphanages in Eastern Europe and found themselves facing extraordinary challenges. Fortunately, the U of M’s International Adoption Center can help. Smith’s story, “Young and Restless.”
Isabelle Cardinal Isabelle Cardinal discovered her love for illustration while studying graphic design at the University of Quebec. In her 14 years as a professional illustrator, her work has been featured in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and Fortune magazine. In her free time, Isabelle enjoys spending time with her son and doing mix-media soldering. Isabelle illustrated this month’s “Last Word.”
Rob Johnson Rob Johnson is the creative director for Minnesota Monthly, and the hand behind such layouts as this month’s Best New Restaurants feature. In addition to his seven years working for Greenspring Media, Rob has designed local and national publications ranging in subject matter from food to finance. When not in front of his Mac, you can find Rob on his boat with his family, or yelling at his TV during the Packers game.