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BRUNCH BEAT: Nicollet Diner
By: Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl | Posted: 03/06/2014
Minneapolis and St. Paul have been pretty much bypassed by the barbecue craze which has rocked the lower 48—New York has Blue Smoke, Los Angeles has Bludso’s, and still in Minneapolis we cannot have barbecue and house-infused tequila in the same night without re-parking the car. Perhaps, until now . . . Introducing BoneYard Kitchen & Bar!
Bankrolled by Kaskaid Hospitality, a.k.a. the house that Crave built, BoneYard is massive: 120 seats inside, another hell of a lot outside, on top of a heated floor and under a big awning designed to turn it into a classic Minnesota three-season porch. The food is by a genuine Southerner, Jason Bush, who was born in Georgia and spent most of his life in Georgia and Florida before moving up to Minnesota for a girl. Bush stayed after being tapped by Kaskaid, and has spent the last nine months working with Kaskaid’s executive chef Bill King to rework his most deeply held family recipes for a big restaurant.
The menu at BoneYard is straight out of Bush’s family tree, with his peepaw’s sweet tea, his nanny’s pimiento cheese (with his own cheffy maple panko topping,) and his Aunt Duane’s duck meatloaf. “My Aunt Duane, her family raised quail and ducks,” Bush told me. “I have her whole Rolodex of recipes, they’re all measured in eggshells—a half eggshell of this, two eggshells of that. It took some figuring to get them into restaurant measurements.”
Is Minneapolis even going to know what the heck to do with genuine Southern sweet tea and pimiento cheese? I stopped by BoneYard before it opened and I can honestly say, it seems promising. The Texas smoked brisket was tender and beautifully fatty, not disintegrating and old shoe like, as we often do around here. Iowa pit ham was salty, pure, and good. The pimiento cheese was rich and spicy, plain and real, the best I’ve had this side of Chicago. The Tilamook cheddar biscuits were Cookie Monster devourable. The bread and butter pickles were crisp and deeply flavored, without being over-flavored. (Bush has staged, that is, worked to learn, at HauteDish.) There are some things on the menu which I very much want to try: Sweet tea brined fried chicken, Laughing Bird sustainable shrimp and grits. Sweet potato pie, hummingbird cake, and blueberry pie by pastry chef Amanda Luna. I say without question: Promising!
The bar, too, looks likely to please: 28 taps including newish Minneapolis upstart Lake Monster Brewing, cilantro infused tequila for Margarita-riffing drinks, smoked-peach puree for adult slushees, lavender infused gin coolers, 25-odd bourbons including prestige offerings such as 20-year Pappy Van Winkle. They’ll be serving lunch, dinner, and late night food, plus weekend brunch; there’s a gluten-free menu, a kid’s menu, a few vegetarian options (fried green tomato po’boys, pimiento mac 'n' cheese, sorghum salad) plans for fire-pits, and acreage to meaningfully extend the bar-hopping plateau of Uptown.
They open for real on Friday, March 7. I asked Bush if he had thought about the Minnesota palate and the hopelessness of decades of ketchup ribs. “No. Not at all,” he said. “I want a taste of the South with no compromises.”
BoneYard, 2841 Hennepin Ave., 612-455-6688, boneyarduptown.com
Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl is a senior editor at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.See bio
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