In keeping with Eater tradition, we’re closing out 2019 by looking back at the year that was along with a collection of local media experts. Already we’ve talked about restaurant standbys, newcomers, neighborhoods, biggest surprises, and attempted to sum up the year in one word. Next up is the best meal of the year, for people who eat out all the time.
Sharyn Jackson of the Star Tribune, “Jaew bong fried rice, a big bowl of chicken khao soi and a daiquiri at Lat 14. And for dessert and a nightcap, I’d go to the lounge at P.S. Steak for the baked Alaska and a glass of Ruinart champagne.”
Sarah Bumble and Em Cassel of City Pages, “The year’s not over yet.”
Nancy Ngo of the Pioneer Press, “P.S. Steak.”
James Norton, food editor of Growler Magazine, “I can’t stop thinking about the ginger-garlic-scallion ‘beard-wrecker’ duck wings I ate at the Poplar Haus on the Gunflint Trail. They’d be outstanding anywhere in the world, but to taste them (and some other stellar food and cocktails) so far north and so close to the Boundary Waters was really a treat.”
Joy Summers, editor Eater Twin Cities, “My standout meal was the tasting menu at Naomi Pomeroy’s Beast in Portland, when I traveled there for Feast. It’s a city-wide celebration of food and we have got to get one of these things going here in the Twin Cities.
Closer to home, my best meal began with a cardamom roll at Willards in Cambridge. I’m nuts for a good brunch, and the meal unfolded like a conversation between chef Erick Harcey and me about our country-kid origins, hardships, growth, parenthood, loss, and more. All that was found somewhere between a sticky roll, perfect egg, and an over-the-top cheeseburger.”
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When I walked through the doors @willardsmn, I immediately realized how much I have missed seeing @chefharcey smile. The restaurant is beautiful. The family-friendly home that fuels this wildly talented chef is busy day and night and serving up a ridiculous amount of Perfect Burgers. @kathleenmeier & I bellied up to the counter & I started clapping like a little kid as I watched his cook sauce the cardamom roll with caramel. Cinnamon rolls are my heaven and cardamom is my love language. I teared up as I took a bite. It was even better than I thought it would be. That set the tone for a brunch that’s just ruined me for all other breakfasts. We talked about family, our shared small town origins, kids, marriage, duck hunting; the scars and hope we’ve found through mental health and addiction battles. We covered — and ate — just about everything. What they’re building @willardsmn & @leadermn is the beating heart of a small community - the kind of place where kids grow up eating snickerdoodle bars before snagging a job prepping and asking to learn the ropes of the kitchen. Or maybe that’s just what I needed to see and believe in today. Because, yeah, the food is really good, but sometimes a meal tastes more like reclamation. And I really needed a little of that. May we all find that place that feeds us like home. ❤️