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Stephanie Wilbur Ash
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Jamie Malone: A Chef’s Tour of the Twin Cities
By: | Posted: 04/21/2008
This weekend I drove to Kansas because my daughter is trying to decide if she can commit to being a Jayhawk. We stayed in KC, MO on Friday night, and because I hadn't had time to perform my due diligence and find us thirty-seven options for late-nite snacking, we approached the good man at the front desk of our hotel.
We asked him for a good BBQ place, natch, it was Kansas City for crying out loud. He replied that in the hot, hot new hot spot in town, the Power & Light district, there was a new place that just opened up: Famous Dave's.
What?! I just drove seven hours south into the BBQ belt, and I'm offered Wisconsin BBQ first?! Don't get me wrong, I like a little Dave's now and then, and it feeds my giant family well, but I was hoping for some crusty old place that secretly lives in the basement of a tool shop and cranks out ungodly sauce.
It seems like I'm always looking for that place.
In fact, I think we have our own weird fascination with BBQ here upnort'. I don't know if it's because we have to parka-up most of the year and we crave something to melt our bones or if that's just how our Scandi roots rebel, but we are preoccupied. OK, I am preoccupied.
So much so that the mere mention of a new place opening puts me right in my car. I heard about a place in Champlin that opened not too long ago, Qfanatic. Scratch cooking, local owner, homemade sauce. On my way up there, I was rather hoping it would turn out to be a joke because how can I haul my cookies to Champlin every time I need a sauce fix?
It is a small, humble space, and the boys in the kitchen were chatty and sweet. Jake, my sauce-lovin' five-year-old, and I did ribs and corn fritters and onions strings. I chose the espresso sauce, medium heat, and loved its sweet-to-smoky balance and thick character—clearly made in that kitchen. The ribs were slow roasted but used liquid smoke, of which I'm not a huge fan. I think they're brilliant in offering Cabin Packs for the coming carloads heading north. I'd say grab a gallon of that sauce.
Was it the revelation of BBQ nirvana? Not quite.
It struck me as odd that the Qfanatics claim there is a hole in the local BBQ market, that somehow we're being underserved. Although I welcome any new upstart (with gas prices, please within the metro), I'd say we're lucky to have the depth of choices we do.
Stephanie March is Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s food and dining editor. See bio
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