Table Talk
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Rosedale’s remade (and well-named) food hall, Potluck, debuted this week, featuring a half-dozen local vendors. Here are five don’t-miss dishes that I encountered. Have you been? Share your experiences in the comments section.

House burger at Burger Dive

That one of the Twin Cities’ best diner-style burgers is now available to a wider audience at a suburban shopping mall is reason enough to be hopeful for the success of this venture. Chef Nick O’Leary and restaurateur Josh Thoma have lifted this spectacular specimen from their setup at the River Garden in northeast Minneapolis without dropping a single tantalizing detail. The rib-eye forward beef, supplemented with butter, is formed into thin patties and fried to a distinct crispiness on the outside – the char factor here is off the charts – yet the patty’s interiors remain slightly pink, and juicy. A prodigious amount of gooey Swiss American cheese fuses the patties together, and holds sweet, slow-cooked onions in place. Crunchy pickles provide a much-needed palate-cleansing bite, and the soft, golden bun gets a brown toast in decadent beef fat. At first, the $9.50 price might feel off-putting in the shopping mall environment, but it’s actually a major steal.

All-day breakfast waffle at Nordic Waffles

Yeah, I'm fully behind the whole #Waffleution thing. Why bother with a factory-made, heat-and-serve breakfast sandwich from nearby Caribou Coffee when there's this? Owner Stine Aasland’s egg-rich waffles, an import from her native Norway, are a novel way to reconsider the sandwich; smoked salmon with cream cheese and a havarti-mushroom-honey combo are just two examples of the varities available. I leaned into my breakfast-for-dinner predilection, and Nordic Waffles did not disappoint. It’s simplicity itself: punchy Cheddar, and lots of it; thick, smoky bacon; and a freshly cooked egg, all enveloped in that tender, golden waffle ($6). Right now, the food hall’s doors open at 11 a.m., but here’s hoping that the schedule will roll forward a few hours, because a.m. mall walkers will definitely enjoy starting their day this way.

Lobster roll at Smack Shack

A $19 sandwich at a shopping mall food court – sorry, food hall -- feels implausible, at best. (No, Neiman Marcus has not replaced the nearby JC Penney). But this beauty is worth every penny. It’s the same formula that you’ll find at Thoma’s crazy-popular North Loop lobster shack: a mountain of sweet, tender poached lobster, simply dressed with tarragon, celery and mayonnaise and spooned into thick wedge of butter-drenched, toasted brioche. Feel wary about that price? Share it with a friend. There’s certainly enough (did I mention the pile of lobster?) to go around.

Hummus plate at Chickpea

What a brilliant fast-food idea. It certainly nails all kinds of on-trend qualities: Healthy. Shareable. Vegetarian. The salad bar-like layout offers one design-your-own meal ($10) option after another: choose from three hummus styles (straight-up chickpea, or two highly seasoned alternatives, one fortified with spinach, the other with red peppers), then lay on a handful of add-ons from roughly a dozen sharp choices: roasted garlic, za’atar-dusted peas, roasted carrots, crumbled feta, hard-cooked eggs. The portions are enormous, the hummus is preposterously silky and chefs Justin Sutherland and Leo Judah haul out all kinds of tasty embellishments, from smoky paprika to fruity olive oil. By emphasizing vivid flavors, colors and textures – for days – this setup is exceeding food court expectations, by a mile. I can’t wait to return and check out the fried chicken at their adjacent Obachan Noodles & Chicken.

Sausage Gravy Biscuit at Betty & Earl’s Biscuit Kitchen

Lord only knows how radio and TV personality Jason Matheson, surely the busiest guy in Twin Cities media, found a spare second to immerse himself in the all-consuming restaurant business, but he has, and we’re all benefitting. Since he can’t be in three places at once (although he was working the counter when I stopped by, his booming radio voice doing double duty as the metro area’s most articulate carnival barker), Matheson has wisely tapped the know-how of pastry chef Adrienne Odom to hold down the fort. She’s deftly translated Matheson’s family recipe (which calls for the all-important White Lily flour, the secret path to tender Southern biscuits) into sweet and savory formulas that she and her crew painstakingly produce by hand, nimbly wielding 3-inch pastry cutters like swords. These better-than-homemade beauties sport delicately crusty, golden tops that crown flaky upon flaky layer of warm, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Six tempting varieties (Nutella, apple-cinnamon, bacon-Cheddar) are available daily. For the sausage gravy version, Odom ingeniously incorporates bits of pork sausage and pops of a creamy, pepper-packed gravy into those high-rising biscuits, then tosses in an extra side serving, dipping sauce-style. Let’s just say that it’s the best way to spend $4.75 at Rosedale. Or, any other Dale.