Whenever I ask chefs and foodists where they’re eating right now, the same answer keeps coming up: Corner Table.
And indeed, I’ve been there three times in recent months, and for my money, Corner Table is right now one of the best restaurants in town. Why? The food is killer, and the service might be even better.
Corner Table has been around since 2004, but the new Corner Table, well, it isn’t that new anymore. Nick Rancone and his wife Chenny bought it in late 2011 and brought in a truly gifted chef, Thomas Boemer. At the time, I told Nick that he was crazy to not change the name from “Corner Table.” So many people associate it with the prior owner, Scott Pampuch—I thought rebooting the name would give people a chance to take another look at it.
But there are lines from old to new: simple cooking with great care placed in the sourcing of the meats and vegetables, and friendly service that puts you at ease.
Plus, Nick Rancone is one of the best wine minds I’ve encountered in the food business. My wife and I had dinner once where we ordered and Nick paired glasses on the fly. It was perfection. Interesting wines I had never tried, varietals that complimented the perfect food.
Two weeks ago we ate at the kitchen table with some friends: 12 courses of food with 12 matching wines. Needless to say, we arranged for a ride home (thanks Uber!). The wines were awesome.
We have many restaurants where the food is good, or great. We have few restaurants where the service is as good as the food. That’s the influence of Nick and Chenny, for sure. I play the parlor game a lot: What’s the best restaurant in the Twin Cities? I can come up with a couple places with great service and good food, and others with great food and good service. It’s unusual for both to be so great—and they are at Corner Table.
About the food: I would argue that based on technique, execution, and food quality, Chef Thomas Boemer is one of the top ten, maybe top five chefs in town.
His technique is European—it’s simple ingredients caressed slowly, carefully, tenderly, to bring out delightful flavors. In our kitchen table dinner, we had an amazing potato gnocchi with guanciale and wild mushroom butter; there was lobster, and lamb, and pork belly. My goodness. It was a celebration of flavor. $125 for 12 courses and matching wines.
Everything is made in the kitchen from scratch—every dish has a story. The prices on the a la carte menu are very reasonable: you can come in and get some duck liver pate for $6, that gnocchi for $16, duck breast for $26. The house-made bologna sandwich with fried egg and mustard aioli is a really clever starter ($9), and the house-made sausages are always excellent.
When people ask me on Twitter (@DeRushaEats): Jason, where should I go for dinner for a birthday/anniversary/Thursday? Corner Table is at the top of my list.