This week in Week in Reviews, it's chain-mania, with City Pages' Emily Weiss heading to Uptown's new BoneYard Kitchen & Bar (from the Crave empire) and the Star Tribune's Rick Nelson paying a visit to the North Loop's The Freehouse (from the Blue Plate Restaurant Company).
First up, Nelson has largely positive things to say about The Freehouse: he loves the space, he loves the free parking lot, and he says the $15 burger (called the $1,000 burger on the menu) is "well worth" the price tag.
Communal dishes like the trout dip and the pork rillettes "also impress," though the main dishes "are a bit of a minefield." On the main dishes, Nelson says: "Encountering an aversion to the same-old, same-old (rabbit getting the fried chicken treatment, a vegan/gluten-free pho, chile-boosted collard greens) is encouraging, but the outcomes frequently disappointed." He notes in particular that the lobster mac n' cheese is "an unpleasantly gloppy mess." Breakfast, though, is a "definite highlight" and "the menu's most consistently pleasing segment," and the enthusiastic if not totally skilled staff "is a major draw."
Over at City Pages, Weiss has a bro-tastic, fry-tastic visit to BoneYard, which she points out is like a mash-up of every rising restaurant trend (over-the-top food, rustic decor, bourbon):
"To put it in local restaurant terms, walking into the Boneyard feels a bit like the Freehouse and Hell's Kitchen blended concepts and decided to ride the coattails of Butcher & the Boar, right down to the pork-centric entrees and old-fashioned desserts."
But BoneYard is no Butcher & the Boar, and despite a few wins ("genuinely spicy fried chicken, flaky yet still moist biscuits, and a handful of well-executed, modern-spin cocktails"), the overall dining experience isn't enough to counter "all manner of sins, which mostly fell under the category of quality control." For just a few examples, brisket "managed to be "both fatty and bland," the chicken fried ribs were "confoundingly cold to the touch," and the Bananas Foster pudding was "grainy and more gelatinous than rich."
Plus, brunch is a whole other "excruciating" story, including high noise levels, long waits for food, and dishes that don't arrive at all:
"After around noon, Boneyard is not so much a pleasant spot to meet friends for eggs, coffee, and casual conversation as it is a Sunday Funday rendezvous point for all of Uptown's bro-iest bros."
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