Photo by Caitlin Abrams
Burgers at Heartland in St. Paul
What’s a fine dining restaurant do when the biggest news in the neighborhood is a new ballpark? Get on the stick. Heartland’s Lenny Russo knows the Saints Baseball Stadium being built in the same Lowertown neighborhood as his restaurant will bring plenty of hungry fans. Though his award-winning, locally sourced, four-star restaurant might not be the top of mind for pregamers, he’s betting his bar area, which already has a more leisurely, low-key vibe, could be.
Russo recently launched a burger bar menu in his lounge area. Of course, this is no afterthought, no half-minded marketing ploy or concession to the lowly burger-eaters. Russo is using all the goods and his finely tuned cheffy ways to make us burger fiends a happy lot.
From all the high-quality animals processed in his in-house butchery, Russo can now use the juicy bits and niblets in his personal grind, making these burgers perhaps the freshest in the state. The free-range bison burger is topped with a luscious swath of buttermilk blue cheese, making it a rich, lush meal. The grass-fed veal burger is a bit more refined with mushrooms and aioli. When you try the heritage breed pork burger, you might wonder, as I do, why they haven’t caught on in more places. Especially when it’s covered in Hook’s creamy-spicy pepper jack cheese with tomato jam.
And just in case you’re not a burger baby, the menu also contains a smoked kielbasa corn dog, brats with house sauerkraut, ribs in smoked peach barbecue sauce, not to mention beef fat fries and cheese curds. 289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, 651-699-3536, heartlandrestaurant.com