Slice: Borough & Parlour
The tentative first displays of affection are so raw, bare, thrilling. Love is so precious, tender and fraught with insecurity. If you’ve loved, you’ve lost. Is it worth the possible pain to try to start a new story again, in the hope that this time will bring your happy ending?
When the doors opened at Borough, I took a sharp, quick breath. Could this be? The room is a comfortable mixture of wood floors; one wood wall mixed with the metal and brick that dominate décor in this part of the North Loop neighborhood. There are little winks and nods, like the cheese grater light fixtures and the steampunk-style beer taps. The room is cozy and open; refined, but never stuffy. The food is serious…and seriously fun.
The chefs are Tyler Shipton and Nick O’Leary, who met while working at the nationally lauded Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Robbinsdale. Like that kitchen, the team that they’ve assembled cooks collaboratively.
Under the soft lighting and flickering table candles, you’re hard pressed not to look your romantic best. The plates are elegant. A potato soup arrives in a wide, deep bowl. Crispy fried fingerling potato chips are topped with a dusting of snowy powder and a couple of shaves of black truffle. The server pours a creamy, rich broth over it. The first flavor to hit the tongue is an unexpected sweet tartness, and then the lush broth pours over the palate, broken up by the crunchy bites of chips. Each sip is light with a champagne effervescence.
A steak entrée is a similar balance of hearty and light. The perfectly seasoned grass-fed beef is served sliced and fanned out, a rosy medium-rare alongside a housemade Agnologti (pasta pocket) stuffed with braised oxtail, achingly tender and utterly adorable. It’s full of beef flavor and leaves the diner pleasantly satiated, awash in the warm glow of winter comfort food.
The salmon, a dish that the first time I tasted it, well, it wasn’t immediate love. That’s the beauty of a new restaurant, things are still evolving and this dish is the poster child for the ability to improve on a good idea. The filet is beautifully cooked, with a crispy bread and herb crust, flaking away into tender bites, drawn through a ruby-colored beet puree beneath a frothy puff of foam, with apples, dill, caraway and a wisp of horseradish. It’s also served with a salmon mousse, piped into a little tube shape, cooked, and then given a quick crispy sear. It’s light, lush, crispy, bright, sharp, and soft. Each bite is balanced.
The beer and wine lists are lovely, but my heart belongs to the cocktails at Borough and the downstairs bar, Parlour. They’ve brought in Jesse Held to run the drink program. Held, who was City Pages’ Best Bartender last year, has worked at many of the cocktail hot spots around town like the Town Talk Diner, Marvel Bar, and Eat Street Social. From a simple take on a brandy Old Fashioned laced with cinnamon syrup to a pine-infused tequila refreshment, the drinks are stunning. Held mixes flavors and textures with the greatest of ease. His Flipping Good drink, cocoa-infused syrup with frothy egg foam is exactly what it promised to be, if you’re the sort who is disinclined to swear. I used a different “F” word to qualify how good it was.
Downstairs at Parlour, Held hopes to create the first mash-up of craft cocktail and dive bar. Gone are the twenty-minute wait times between ordering and drinking. The space and staff are completely lacking in pretention. This is meant to be a neighborhood joint and already they are building a list of regulars.
Guests can enter either from the restaurant or directly from the street. Although it’s subterranean, there are windows through which you can watch the ankles of hurried passersby. There’s food down there, too. The menu is brief and focused on paring with cocktails. Here’s an insider tip, try the ultra-crisp fries dragged through the rich, creamy pork liver mousse that comes with the charcuterrie plate. This needs to be a thing. It’s food alchemy: pure gold.
Once the staff and crew at Parlour get rolling, the plan is that bartenders will roll carts stocked with drink fixings to prepare their craft cocktails tableside. This will be a fun way to try all their flavors of the moment.
Great food and killer drinks? This might just be the love we’ve been waiting for.
Borough and Parlour
730 Washington Ave North, Minneapolis
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