Chicken pot pie at Hazelwood Food + Drink
I had gone out in search of pie — Tuesday is Pi Day, after all — and wound up at Hazelwood expecting to be wowed by their deconstructed banana cream pie. But then I remembered that chicken pot pie ($16.95) is also pie, and had to try it.
The list of ingredients starts with a non-ingredient: no aluminum bowl. Instead, you get an enormous clay crock filled with still-sizzling creamy chicken stew studded with carrots, celery, peas and generous pinches of fragrant thyme. A pastry lid floats like a raft atop that dreamy filling. This, too, is deconstructed pie — and nourishingly familiar comfort food that throws a snugly blanket on a still-snowy March.
The star of the dish, of course, is the wood-fire rotisserie chicken, a Hazelwood specialty. You'll also find chicken dinners, pizzas, fun apps and other approachable-yet-upscale fare at Hazelwood's four suburban locations, the newest of which is in Woodbury. (Sharyn Jackson)
9240 Hudson Road, Woodbury, 651-419-8000; 8150 26th Av. S., Bloomington, 952-222-4000; 5635 Manitou Road, Tonka Bay, 952-401-0066; 4450 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-977-8000, hazelwoodfoodanddrink.com
Turkish Bagel at Cafe Cerés Downtown
It was almost like a spring sneak attack, one lobbing dukkah-spiced lattes and zephyr cookies at downtown Minneapolis. Cafe Cerés was suddenly open inside the former Penny's location on Washington Avenue S. The space is as sun-drenched as ever, but the new coffee/pastry stop is serving up some of chef Shawn McKenzie's now-classic dishes from the bakery that began in Linden Hills.
Inside the new downtown space is a glass case that begins the day filled with flaky pastries, croissants, tall muffins and more. But I couldn't resist the Turkish bagel ($5). The dough twists into knots, folding over itself and creating chewy little pockets of bready wonder. The exterior is coated in sesame seeds and, if you're dining in, served lightly toasted with za'atar-sprinkled labneh and a small pool of olive oil. I opted for the upgrade (an additional $9), which added thick ribbons of smoked salmon, briny capers and thinly sliced red onion. It'd be easy to assemble into a transportable breakfast sandwich, eating while traversing the skyways back to the office. But the luxury of basking in the optimistic spring sun at one of these wooden tables is a weekday delight. (Joy Summers)
100 Washington Av. S., Mpls., cafeceresmpls.com
Crispy breaded pork schnitzel at Farmers Kitchen + Bar
When the Farmers Union Coffee Shop debuted this sandwich at their State Fair stand last summer, it was at the top of many fairgoers' must-have list, including ours. "We only wish we weren't limited to fair season to get one," we lamented. Well, good things come to those who wait.
Now available at the Farmers Union's restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, the sandwich is bigger and better than ever ($16). Minnesota pork loin is pounded thin and fried to shattering crispiness before finding a home in a top-notch buttery brioche bun from the Good Bread Co. (formerly Franklin Street Bakery) and topped with a snappy caraway cabbage slaw. Pickles are served on the side, but shouldn't be an afterthought. Pile them on the supersized sandwich, where they will work in concert with the slaw and locally made Lost Capital mustard to create a bite that's an immediate day-brightener. We upgraded to a side of seasoned jojo potatoes ($3), tasty but unnecessary given the size of the sandwich.
Our lunchtime venture was also a nice reminder of how delightful this window-filled space is. Located across from the Guthrie Theater in the former Spoonriver, the all-day cafe is just as welcoming for a midmorning pick-me-up as it is for pre-theater drinks or dinner. (Nicole Hvidsten)
750 S. 2nd St., Mpls., 612-200-9434, farmerskitchenandbar.com
Mini coconut cream pie from Yum Kitchen and Bakery
Just in case a savory pot pie doesn't fit the bill on Pi Day, here's an uncontestable offering from Yum: solo-sized pies from the always abundantly stocked pastry case ($6.95). Flavors change, and the current feature doesn't usually get a lot of play in Minnesota, but is one I grew up eating every year with my grandpa on his birthday. I didn't fully appreciate coconut custard pie as a kid, but now? It's about as tropically transporting as a piña colada. Sweet shreds of coconut are blended into a crumbly vanilla wafer base that's topped with coconut milk pastry cream, a swirl of lighter-than-air whipped cream and toasted coconut shavings.
If that isn't enough to send you on a mental spring break somewhere beachy, Yum's three locations also will serve up individual Key lime pies on March 14. That's almost as good as a ticket out of here. (S.J.)
164 N. Snelling Av., St. Paul, 651-615-1230; 4000 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-922-4000; 6001 Shady Oak Road, Minnetonka, 952-933-6001; yumkitchen.com
Reuben at Eagan Arms Public House
As St. Patrick's Day approaches, it's the season for exploring the many ways cabbage and preserved meats can come together. At Eagan Arms Public House, that means a weekday Reuben ($18) that's a glorious mess of salty, rich corned beef and tart, almost-sweet sauerkraut. Both are packed into two slices of lightly toasted marble rye, and each bite is a sumptuous mingling of tangy, caraway, toasty, zingy, cheesy beefiness. It's so juicy that I quickly abandoned my dreams of actually holding it lovingly in my hands and set to work with a fork, knife and ravenous determination. Order it with crisps, greens or, for a small upgrade, chips — served with malt vinegar on the table, of course. (J.S.)
4250 Lexington Av. S., Eagan, 651-348-7361, eaganarms.com
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