Table Talk
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From a New England favorite to a Brittany classic, here’s a rundown of my dining diary’s greatest hits from the past seven days. What were your top eats of the week? Share the details in the comments section.

Johnnycake at Town Talk Diner & Gastropub

I can’t recall the last time I spied a johnnycake on a Twin Cities menu, but it’s been way too long. Chefs/co-owners Charles Stotts and Kacey White made it a staple of their brunch menu about a year ago, creating a formula that grew out of the cornbread they were serving on their dinner menu. “One day we were starving, and we’re cooks, so we eat what’s in front of us,” said Stotts with a laugh. “We made cornbread and scrambled eggs, and we thought, ‘Wow, this is really good.’” Yeah, it sure is. Their johnnycake is a blend of cornmeal, an heirloom flour (Turkey Red Heritage White Flour, a kind of all-purpose version) from Sunrise Flour Mill in North Branch, Minn., and an egg-rich custard. It’s carefully ladled into six-inch cast-iron skillets and cooked on the stove until the exterior transforms itself into a delectable crisped-up crust. “Crusty is good in my world,” said Stotts. The cornmeal inserts a gentle sweet note, enough to cast away thoughts of maple syrup, although the couple thoughtfully provides a tiny pitcher of the stuff, just in case. As for the scrambled eggs, they’re fantastic, the color of sunshine and ultra-creamy, the result of using well-sourced eggs (from DragSmith Farms in Barron, Wis.) and treating them well, relying only on butter and salt. “I’m fanatical about scrambled eggs,” said Stotts, and that’s obviously an understatement. “Good food is good ingredients and good cooking.” Not that it needs it, but Stotts and White add a decadent finishing touch: a hefty swipe of pimento cheese spread. I think — no, I know — that I’ve found a favorite new brunch dish. 2707 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-353-5398

Popover at Town Talk Diner & Gastropub

OK, I feel like I’m cheating, because I’m featuring two items from a single restaurant. But what the heck: I make the rules, right? And these popovers ($4) are truly tops in their class. I’m a popover fanatic from way back, and it turns out that Stotts is, too. He grew up in Bloomington, and a big night out for the Stotts family meant dinner at the Criterion, a fancy restaurant near the Hwy. 100/I-494 interchange. “They always had popovers,” he said. “It was my favorite part of going there.” After much trial and error, he and White developed a formula that creates a picture-perfect popover, with a high, airy rise; a delicately crisp and deeply brown exterior; and a rich, soft, eggy interior. No wonder the couple sells upward of 150 popovers a week. “Most of the credit goes to the flour and the eggs,” said Stotts, noting that the former comes from Sunrise Flour Mill, and the latter is supplied by DragSmith Farms. “You get good ingredients, and you try not to screw them up.” 2707 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-353-5398

Twice-baked potato at Baldamar

Like most steakhouses, this great-looking Rosedale (well, Rosedale-adjacent) newcomer offers a long list of side dishes. What caught my eye was this favorite of my childhood, and it did not disappoint. The skin was crisp and salty — always the secret to twice-baked potato success — and the mashed potatoes, lusciously creamy, were topped with all the requisite components: a blanket of sharp Wisconsin-made Cheddar, generous crumbles of smoky Nueske’s bacon (the pride of Wittenberg, Wis.) and tons of sour cream. And the spud was enormous, certainly a just-right portion for two and enough to justify the $9.95 price tag. 1642 County Road B West, Roseville, 651-796-0040

Parmesan waffle at Snack Bar

The next time I have a party, I’m so going to try to replicate this winning dish. When chef/owner Isaac Becker told me where he found the recipe, my mind immediately flashed to a version of that silly Us Weekly feature: Chefs — They’re Just Like Us! “I googled ‘Lightest, fluffiest waffle batter’ and that’s basically the recipe that I used for the batter, and then I folded Parmesan into it,” said Becker with a laugh. “Yeah, all of my ideas are from Google.” Hardly (visit Snack Bar and get a taste of Becker’s truly original — and not-Google-driven — creative process). But I love the story. Besides, it’s a fantastic appetizer ($9), warm and tender, with the Parmesan inserting a spot-on savory touch, making it a tailor-made vehicle for delivering ribbons of fat-laced Prosciutto di Parma. (This beautiful photo, way out of my league, is by my colleage Renee Jones Schneider). 800 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-383-2848

Caramel-apple kouign-amann at Black Walnut Bakery

Yeah, this is an awfully carb-ey week, isn’t it? What can I say? It’s the dead of winter, and that’s what my body is craving. I happened to be the morning’s first customer — the door was being unlocked as I approached — and at that hour the bakery counter was a truly spectacular sight, a display of the full flower of baker/owner Sarah Botcher’s laminated dough prowess, fresh out of her Italian-made oven. The riches included horn-shaped butter croissants, almond croissants dusted with powdered sugar, golden pain au chocolat, croissants filled with ham and Gruyère, “Le Dog” (a hot dog encased in laminated dough, the greatest grab-and-go idea in ages), gorgeous cream cheese Danish and of course a wide array of Botcher’s specialty, kouign-amann. Originally from Brittany and pronounced queen-a-mahn, it’s one of the glories of the pastry world, a butter-drenched beauty of curving, rippled dough that’s roughly shaped into the form of a muffin. The morning’s inventory included kouign-amann filled with various temptations: a blend of chocolate and cinnamon, a mix of raspberry and passion fruit, and the one I chose: caramel-apple. The filling was just right, enough to hint at the pleasures of both ingredients, but never overwhelming the tender, preposterously flaky dough. What a way to spend $3.75! 3157 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-353-6552