January’s “Restaurant Rumble” pits the Downtown cool of Eastside against the Lowertown vibes of Dark Horse. Find out who Jason and Joy will choose.
Dark Horse: A stunning bar and an inspired menu
JD: Dark Horse on the edge of Lowertown St. Paul has one of the strangest menus I’ve seen. Baba ganoush, Singapore street noodles, and an elk burger?
JS: I love what Lowertown has grown up to become, and the worldly inspired menu, beautifully stocked bar, and the historic building elements fit right in.
JD: I liked the baba ganoush. Creamy, flavorful eggplant with a lovely selection of vegetables and pita.
JS: I appreciate a vegetable—those buttery Brussels are enough to get the kids to eat their greens. You know, I hear “Singapore street noodles,” and I expect something that’s going to stave off a hangover. To me, that’s the origin of the dish.
JD: The noodle bowls have a lot of potential. The Singapore street noodles had a lovely citrus soy broth, but the braised pork belly was overcooked—a danger of it sitting too long in the hot broth.
JS: What I got was a pile of limp, glass noodles that we had to hunt for beneath all the veggies. The bam-boom-pow flavor was a welcome relief. It was just around the corner from being awesome.
JD: The bar is going to be a highlight of Dark Horse. It’s gorgeous and huge. I love how it juts out in the middle, different from the typical straight-line bar.
JS: It’s a perfect spot to drink your way through the affordable cocktail list or tuck into the taps. It’s so St. Paul—on both of my visits I ran into friends who were bellied up.
JD: The simpler items are the best: Pizzas are thin crust, more like a Heggie’s than the Neapolitan or flatbread pizzas we’re seeing everywhere. The $14 Dark Horse pizza would be a smart appetizer for a group.
JS: I’d start my crew with an order of the wings. They’re meaty and come in a variety of flavors. The chimichurri was bright, snappy, and spicy. I just adore what Lowertown has become and Dark Horse is a welcome addition to St. Paul’s coolest neighborhood. Finally, we’re staying up past 8 o’clock.
Dark Horse Quick Tips:
When to go: Dark hours 3-6 p.m. and 11 p.m.-2 a.m.
Don’t miss dish: Dark Horse burger and Yukon JoJos with ranch dressing
Where to sit: At the exquisite bar with views of the room
Dark Horse • 250 E. 7th St., Saint Paul, MN 55101 • (651) 313-7960, darkhorsebarandeatery.com