Autumn. My favorite time of the year! There’s a snap in the air, football season, Honeycrisp apples. The light seems golden and colors more vibrant. This particular fall marks a milestone — our 25th wedding anniversary. So the big question. How are we going to celebrate? Sometimes we stay home and treat ourselves to juicy, thick, grilled steaks or go crazy and jet to Las Vegas to eat our way up and down the strip? For this quarter century celebration, we decided to stay local and chose The Butcher and the Boar in Minneapolis. We had heard it was good and the reviews were excellent.
First a little background — when choosing a new place to eat I first devour the website. Reading menus, gaping at photos. Often I have everything I plan to eat decided on before I even get there. I read blogs and reviews, research any unfamiliar ingredients or techniques. It’s weird, but for me it is part of the fun — the anticipation of the event.
The Butcher and the Boar, as you may have guessed, is stoked with meat, and then more meat, a vegetarian nightmare and a carnivores’ dream! Along with some elegant craft beers, micro brews, and a list of bourbons as long as the Kentucky Derby. The menu features a Smoked Beef Long Rib ala Fred Flintstone, Foi Gras, Berkshire Pork, house-made boar sausage, homemade pickles and chicken-fried veal brains! I would see Andrew Zimmern for sure!
When we arrived it smelled like roasting meat and wood smoke. Our waiter, Ben greeted us and asked if we wanted drinks. Yes! To my husband’s surprise, I broke away from my usual red wine and went for the bourbon. Albeit “sissified” bourbon. I ordered a Shake-up – basically bourbon lemonade. Delicious! My husband ordered a bourbon flight and we were off to the races!
We started with the Texas Beef Link. It was meaty, smoky, had a nice pop to the skin. Served with a kickin’ chili sauce and a crunchy tortilla slaw. We paired that with the house pickle platter. Beets served with cool crème fraiche, tangy bread and butters, pickled onions and spicy carrots, a nice compliment to the richness of the sausage. For the main course we landed on the Beef Long Rib and the Double Cut Smoked Pork Chop. Add to that the sour cream and chive mashed potatoes and the plank roasted mushrooms. A feast!
The smoked long rib was dark and glossy and had a good bark. It fell nicely off the bone and I kept dredging pieces of it through the Tabasco BBQ sauce. The sour cream mashed potatoes served to be a cool respite between bites of the rib. The double pork chop was massive, like a prehistoric hammer. Swimming in a sweet bourbon glaze topped with stewed peaches, it was juicy with a nice pink smoke ring. We kept eating off each other’s plates and passing sauce, laden chunks back and forth. A romance of carnivores’!
It was lovely to just dine, to indulge in pure excess. Our lives are so full of compromise and budgets, chores, schedules, college choices, ACT scores, and our retirement plans. It feels endless and overwhelming at times. This evening was a reminder that we need to slow down. To taste not only this delicious meal, but to taste life, with all it’s bitter, sweet, sour and savory.
Unable to finish it all, Ben packed up the remnants and we headed for home. The conversation had been good, the food fabulous. We were sated. Content. It was inevitable that we would both slip into a meat coma, but before giving in, I was struck by a rush of thankfulness that we made it to 25. Not everyone does.