New Restaurant Review: Noyes & Cutler in St. Paul

High steaks and big rewards at this Lowertown spot, which successfully competes with more expensive steakhouses
Rib-eye steak with lobster tail and Violet Pilot cocktail
Rib-eye steak with lobster tail and Violet Pilot cocktail

Photo by Kevin Kramer

Minnesotans love steak. When you need to celebrate a special moment, or take a client out to dinner, or impress a first date, steakhouses are almost always at the top of the idea list. But it takes some bold tenderloins to go up against the big beef in town: icons like Murray’s, Jax, and Mancini’s, as well as modern-day legends like Manny’s and P.S. Steak.

Enter Noyes & Cutler on Mears Park in Lowertown St. Paul. It has taken over the former Public Kitchen & Bar, which never caught on, either despite of or because of the multiple high-profile chefs brought in to run it. Chef Justin Sutherland developed the concept along with executive chef Aaron Cave, a former co-worker of Sutherland’s in the rebirth of the Gnome Craft Pub.

“The goal was to have the same high-quality meat but intentionally less expensive so it’s more approachable,” Sutherland told me.

The spacious dining room
The spacious dining room

Photo by Kevin Kramer

Approachable it is: We enjoyed a 16-ounce New York strip steak for just $40 and a 12-ounce ribeye for $38. (The same cuts would cost you twice as much at Manny’s.) Cave salts and peppers the meat, cooks it on a double-boiler oven that gets up to 1,000 degrees, and then finishes it with a butter made with bone marrow.

“I like to finish steaks with butter, and this adds just a little depth and developed flavor [and] also incorporates the beef flavor into the butter,” he explained. It works. A mound of slowly melting butter puts a sheen and a shine on that deeply charred crust. The kitchen nailed medium rare, as well, with great texture, chew, and flavor at a terrific value.

Wagyu burger with fries
Wagyu burger with fries

Photo by Kevin Kramer

Beef is where Noyes & Cutler excels. There’s an 8-ounce Wagyu bacon cheeseburger with creamy Gouda and incredible flavors from smoked tomato jam and a grilled scallion aioli. It’s juicy and messy and well worth the $18 price tag.

Crab cake with Caesar salad and beef tartare
Crab cake with Caesar salad and beef tartare

Photo by Kevin Kramer

We loved the beef tartare ($16), as well. Noyes & Cutler takes chopped New York strip steak and brings an Asian flair with a rice wine and fish sauce vinaigrette. Add Fresno chile and a salty/earthy note from seaweed furikake, and you’ve got a lot of contrasting textures and flavors, which is my recipe for a successful tartare.

There’s a wedge salad, which wasn’t really a wedge at all, rather a small head of iceberg lettuce sliced in half. Roasted tomatoes are the difference-makers here, adding a hint of tart sweetness to the creamy blue cheese and salty bacon.

Powerhouse steak
Powerhouse steak

Photo by Kevin Kramer

There are areas where Noyes & Cutler falls short on execution, however. The tostada had lots of charred octopus on avocado puree, but the chimichurri fell flat, and the octopus was under seasoned. Same was true of the trout. Sourced from the Great Lakes, our fish was relatively dry, likely because the prosciutto wrapping absorbed some of the fish’s juices.

Risotto with Garden Gibson martini
Risotto with Garden Gibson martini

Photo by Kevin Kramer

The cocktails are classics—don’t miss the barrel-aged boulevardier—and the wine list hits all the steakhouse necessities, with a solid Oregon pinot selection and plenty of California cabernets. As for the vibes, Noyes & Cutler’s service is much warmer than the very large, very open, somewhat sterile room. All too often, steakhouses are aspirational places, where if you’re not at a table on a corporate credit card you feel unwelcome. That’s not the case here. Hopefully that friendly approach, coupled with the budget-friendly prices, will finally make this Lowertown space last.

Noyes & Cutler
229 Sixth St. E., St. Paul
651-968-1050
noyescutler.com

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