Review: Tongue in Cheek in St. Paul

Ambitious eats—no joke

Tongue in Cheek implies facetiousness, but it delivers serious cuisine in an unlikely place. On St. Paul’s Payne Avenue, vintage storefronts evoke a Main Street of yesteryear, while chef Leonard Anderson’s fare is absolutely contemporary.

The nearby Strip Club pioneered East Side fine dining, and its success suggests area demand for ambitious food and cocktails. The drinks at TIC aren’t as impressive, but they are fun to order in flights of six. Also delightful: the $2 teasers, beautiful bites of, say, gravlax with horseradish cream, or watermelon with blue cheese and basil.

The burger, beef sandwich, or gnocchi won’t draw foodies from outside the 651, but the chili-braised pork belly might, with its fiery rub diffused by earthy sunchoke, mushroom, and kale. And for dessert, the Chocolate Ode to the Dome, dressed with marshmallow and dehydrated peanut butter, is a million times better than those plastic ball-cap sundaes.