photos by katherine harris
Born in an old Blockbuster building in south Minneapolis, Red Cow is a worthy exchange. Luke Shimp, formerly of the Blue Plate Restaurant Company, has thrown in his money and given the space a bit of a shine with a light industrial tavern feel.
It's mainly a burger story they are telling, but instead of entering the local battle for Juicy Lucy domination, or even treading too far into the beef-blend battle of snooty foodists, they are playing a slightly different game. Only about a third of the burgers are beef, and the rest are creative innovations that just might make you retool your definition. The earthy elk burger is done Wellington style in puff pastry with brie—it is a good and rich match. A salmon patty is formed with risotto, a better binder than bread crumbs, and given a lift by arugula and truffle aioli. The lamb burger didn’t really work for me, but the turkey burger with sliced radish and pistachios was a juicy world better than others I’ve had. And the curried chickpea veggie patty held a ton of great flavor, although it was a bit cheated by the bun to patty ratio. Of the beef burgers, the Barcelona was my favorite, with prosciutto, manchego, peppers, and smoked aioli. It was just the right kind of smoky, nutty flavor additions in a goodly mess that brought something new to the burger.
The rest of the menu has grinders and po’boys, fish ’n’ chips, and poutine, all the things you need in the modern tavern. And of course there are plenty of craft beers. But more important is the awesome tapped wine system, which allows 32 fresh wines by the glass. Burger and a beer might become burger and a burgundy before you know it. 3624 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-767-4411, redcowmn.com —S. M.