Each month, in our “Restaurant Rumble” conversation, MnMo food critics Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers review two restaurants and pick a winner.
Jason: The Twin Cities have many great restaurants inside hotels, but aside from Manny’s, none of them have really caught fire. Tullibee, inside Minneapolis’ new Hewing Hotel, certainly has the looks and the vibe to become a hot spot between its century-old brick building and heritage hipster décor.
Joy: Chef Grae Nonas arrived in the Twin Cities from Austin and is cooking Nordic fare by way of Texas, which somehow fits right into the North Loop.
Executive Chef Grae Nonas
photos by tj turner
Jason: I find it hard to believe that an out-of-town chef is dying to make lefse, but he nails it (although he calls it “potato flatbread” for some reason—it’s lefse, Chef). It’s not too thick and topped with flavorful little dollops of blood pudding.
Joy: The menu follows the recent trend of putting vegetables at the forefront of the menu and butchering animals in house. It’s very much nose-to-tail cooking. An amuse bouche of chicken hearts was startling at first, but turned out to be smoky, tender, and delicious.
Jason: The restaurant’s design showcases a wood-burning grill, where I saw part of a pig hanging over the fire. The menu has a rotating list of “reserve” meats—elk leg, pork collar—that, like the bottles on a reserve wine list, are offered in limited supply.
Joy: Unfortunately, the “exotic” buffalo bone marrow I tried lacked its characteristic creaminess.
Jason: A cod entrée was light, perfectly cooked, and delicately flavored, but the plate looked ridiculous: white fish, topped with shaved parsnips, positioned in the upper right quarter of an otherwise blank white plate struck me as a little too precious.
Joy: But the Vegetables Kissed by Fire were fantastic. I just wish the accompanying chicken’s skin had been as crisp as the kohlrabi and carrots.
Jason: I felt that way about the duck too. It needed a snap to the skin, a little more salt, a deeper, richer flavor. Entrées remind me of those at the Bachelor Farmer when it first opened: technically well-executed, but no big flavors, no wow moments that left me thinking, “I can’t wait to try this again.” I was much more impressed with the smaller bites, including the salad of curlicue-shaped root vegetables with preserved mushroom and curry dressing. And don’t miss the fried cauliflower and the duck fat fries on the bar menu.
Joy: Nor dessert, especially the “aerated” chocolate, which was basically a beautifully light mousse. And carrot cake is reimagined as a fluffy pile of citrus and sweet-baby-carrot-flavored cake crumbles over an anise-spiked pastry cream studded with orange segments. I loved the way familiar components were prepared in a brand new way.
Aerated chocolate dessert
Tullibee Quick Tips:
Reservations: Valet and lots of meters
Instagram Star: The much-photographed deer head over the bar
This month’s “Restaurant Rumble” pitted two hotel eateries against each other, lauded Cafe Alma takes on Hewing Hotel’s Tullibee. Find out which restaurant Jason and Joy chose as the winner in the February 2017 issue of MnMo.
300 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis, 651-468-0600, hewinghotel.com