Roast pork sandwich at South Lyndale Liquors
The almost-50-year-old South Lyndale Liquors moved last month a couple blocks down, to a huge, 34,000-square-foot shop with enough floor space for a vintage automobile filled with bottles AND a deli counter and cheese shop. And while the wine and spirits selection is broad and bold as always, the deli has a secret weapon in Matthew Bickford.
He was a co-owner of Be'Wiched Deli, one of Minneapolis' best sandwich shops. Known for its housemade pastrami and other smoked meats piled into inventive gourmet sandwiches, Be'Wiched closed in 2018. Bickford moved on to front-of-house work, but "I was kind of missing food," he said, and the South Lyndale team proposed he come back to it.
The cold sandwiches he's devised here make good use of the cheese and charcuterie counter, and an Italian meats hero is a solid lunch. Those are available daily from 11 a.m. till evening. But you have a shorter window — 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — to get your hands on a hot sandwich. Our favorite? The roast pork ($15), which pairs juicy hunks of slow-roasted, fall-apart meat with crunchy broccoli rabe, a melty slice of provolone and a swipe of roasted garlic aioli "for that creaminess," Bickford said. "As if you needed more creaminess." (Trust me, you do.) The sandwich comes with a side of rich, porky "brodo" for dipping, which soaks into the sesame hoagie roll until it's nice and soft and squishy. (The roll was developed with Shawn McKenzie at Rustica, and it's a triumph.)
"I'm just trying to do bold flavors," Bickford said. "Without the smoker." Instead, he's leaning more toward Mediterranean, braised meat bliss. There's an Italian beef sandwich that's next on our list. (Sharyn Jackson)
5516 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-827-5811, southlyndale.com
Dulce de leche crêpe with strawberries and bananas at Sweet Paris
The Texas-based chain Sweet Paris Crêperie and Cafe has just opened its first Twin Cities location. The locally owned franchise is in a Woodbury strip mall, and there's a second location slated to open next year at the Mall of America. The interior is light and airy with a fast-casual line to order crêpes right next to where they're making them.
The thin dough can be folded over all types of sweet and savory ingredients. There are also a few coffee drinks, salads and sandwiches on the menu, but crêpes are the name of the game here.
Of the two we sampled, the dulce de leche ($14.25) was the clear winner with drizzles of caramel, strawberries and bananas all tucked inside. It's finished with a dollop of whipped cream and was a nice little dessert-as-brunch bite. (Joy Summers)
265 Radio Dr., Suite K, Woodbury, 651-348-6549, sweetparis.com
Tarte flambée at the Tasting Room
We had plans for dinner at the just-opened Kim's just down the street, but a glass of fantastic wine and a few snacks at the Tasting Room ended up being a super fun side quest.
The Tasting Room opened several years ago, but this wine bar hit its stride when acclaimed local sommelier Nico Giraud arrived in 2021. Giraud's enthusiasm for wine bubbles over, and it only takes a small bit of prodding to get him to elaborate on the selections. I sipped a complex and thrilling orange wine that he described as the epitome of what an orange wine can be — a little challenging, but ultimately fun to drink. And to pair with food.
The tarte flambée ($18) is a flatbread take on the Alsatian dish, with chopped up bits of bacon, a chewy crust and caramelized onion. He also told us for guests who don't eat pork, they will replace the bacon with duck rillettes, which I'll try next time. As it was, I spooned that rich pâte right onto the bready crust and exhaled with a sigh: This street, with the liveliness of these food businesses, reminded me of an Uptown I haven't felt in years. (J.S.)
1434 W. 31st St., Mpls., 612-409-0277, thetastingroommpls.com
Golden chicken broth and pork wontons from Saturday Dumpling Co.
You might be thinking, where's the soup? Blame my spouse, who ate almost the whole quart of it before realizing I might not have had any, and saved me this last little ounce. And what an ounce it was.
Peter Bian's menu at Saturday Dumpling Co. has expanded, wonderfully, from its original dumplings to wontons, hot food (the Instagram-viral scallion pancake burrito is the current food of the moment), and this incredible "golden" chicken broth ($6 a quart).
Warmed up, the broth is the perfect accompaniment to the plump wontons ($16 for pork, $22 for pork and shrimp). But I'd just as easily drink this rich and slightly sweet brew in a glass with nothing added. The slow-simmered broth is made from chicken-leg quarters, onions, scallions, ginger, and a few surprises: honey dates, goji berries and jujubes. Jujube, in traditional medicine, treats stress, inflammation, even influenza. And goji has a number of health benefits. Exactly what we needed on a week when sickness came through our house. We're all feeling better now, but I'm planning to stock up my freezer with that broth to get us through the winter. (S.J.)
Saturday Dumpling Co. ordering opens Wednesdays online for Saturday pickups, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Dot's Gray Kitchen, 208 29th Av. N., Mpls. Order at saturdaydumpling.com
Heirloom Tomato Panisse at Saint Genevieve
With these shorter days, and the darkness that encroaches on evening so early it's almost afternoon, I've been thinking more about balance. As much glory as light, warmth and new beginnings get, there's also beauty in the dark, the hard, and the crisp cold that howls outside. If it wasn't a chilly dark night, there wouldn't be the same delight in candlelight bouncing off wine glasses. Without loss, there wouldn't be the singular strength of cackling into the expanse left behind.
For these types of meals, where my companion and I dive into the good stuff of hard conversations, we needed the right setting.
Chef Steven Brown's Saint Genevieve is a stunning restaurant in south Minneapolis and the perfect place for a dinner when 5 p.m. looks like midnight outside.
The heirloom tomato panisse ($18) is a dish that exemplifies all this kitchen does so well. It's a humble appetizer of chickpea batter fried crisp at the edges, tender and custardy on the inside, presented like a piece of art. The heirloom tomatoes were an edible last bite of warm weather, with the harmony of fresh and lively lemon garlic aioli.
It's a bite that's better because those late season tomatoes have a little crunch to them, and the acidity accentuated that lush aioli.
Sometimes, it's all about balance. (J.S.)
5003 Bryant Av. S., Mpls., 612-353-4843, stgmpls.com