It’s a great time to be a neighborhood restaurant. Solid food, welcoming service, and good drinks. It seems so simple, but it’s not, as we all know. It takes training and execution. I ate at two places this week that are nailing it.
First: Eat Street Social.
The drinks are incredible. Absolutely incredible. No surprise, since the bartending staff had about ten days of training, and the cocktails were designed by Ira Koplowitz (a veteran of Chicago’s famed Violet Room) and Nick Kosevich (of Town Talk Diner fame—and full disclosure—a friend of mine).
I’ve tried every drink on the $8-$10 cocktail menu (all in the name of research, of course), and I especially like The Coat of Arms, made with Bulleit Rye, Bittercube Orange bitters, and a house-made Guinness-infused vermouth. The hint of Guinness is really interesting: subtle, but present. The Copper Dagger is going to be extremely popular: It’s tart because of Averna Amaro, Lemon Hart 151, sweet because of St. Germain Elderflower liquor, and marshmallow-frothy thanks to a nice dose of egg white.
I love that we have so many great bartenders bringing it in town. The team at Eat Street is on par with the excellent cocktails you can get at Marvel Bar, Bradstreet Crafthouse, and La Belle Vie. The vibe is just a notch more laid-back.
As for food, I’m sure Dara will weigh in with her patented “too soon review.” I’ve only tried the steak “tar tar” (pictured here) made with chopped steak instead of ground steak, topped with quail egg and olive oil. It was fantastic—one of the better tartare preparations I’ve had in town ($12).
I’ve sampled some desserts which are good but not great. I enjoyed a clafouti with crunchy chocolate balls and macerated cherries quite a bit and the chocolate olive oil layer cake which wasn’t layered, as far as I could tell. The bar is so great at Eat Street, there will be a lot of people heading over there for drinks and dessert, but I think the dessert needs a little work. My free advice: Do drink/dessert pairings—incorporating some of the bitters and flavors in the drinks in the desserts. Pair them on the menu, and offer them as a combo deal. Or double-sized sharable desserts? Something to make it special.
I’ve been fans of Joe Wagner and Sam Bonin since they opened Northeast Social, an utterly unpretentious and delightful spot in Northeast. The same friendly service is on at Eat Street, in a much larger, and more ambitious place. I think it’s going to be a huge success.
As for Pat’s Tap, I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get there, but it was worth the wait. What fun.
The food ranges from good to really good. I love buffalo chicken, and the Buffalo Chicken Terrine($9) was delicious and funny to me. It’s the classic bar food, in terrine form. Love it. The generous serving of fried pickles ($5) came in long slices, with a nice breading and bite. The harissa and honey-roasted chicken sandwich ($12) was outstanding—chicken breast, pickled chilies, Manchego cheese, garlic aioli on a nice focaccia bread. Surprisingly, the vegetable curry ($14) was really tasty: a yellow coconut curry was velvety and rich on top of Jasmine rice with peas, cauliflower, carrots, and other goodness.
The service was great, there were lots of 50+ customers and families with kids when we got there at Friday at 5 p.m., then the young hipsters invaded around 6 p.m. The ski ball is a fun way to kill time while you wait for a table.
What’s your first impression of Eat Street? What’s your favorite dish at Pat’s Tap? Share your thoughts in the comments, because I can’t wait to get back to both of these spots.
Eat Street Social
18 W. 26th Street, Mpls.
3510 Nicollet Ave., Mpls.