This isn’t your daddy’s drugstore. These days, the prescription at Burch’s — site of the longtime pharmacy — is far easier to swallow. Instead of “take two aspirin,” it’s “eat, drink, and be merry.” Doctoring the palate is Chef Isaac Becker (112 Eatery, Bar La Grassa) and partner/wife Nancy La Pierre, who applies TLC at the front of the house.
Attuned, perhaps, to Kenwood’s boomers, the setting is more serene than the couple’s other endeavors, embellished with window walls that capture the buzz of Hennepin, exposed brick, wood surfaces shining from floors and well-spaced tables, and soft lighting that draws eyes to the drama of the kitchen line.
And the food: Is it just what the doctor ordered? Time will tell. The menu strikes me as schizophrenic — or, in other than Psych 1 lingo, something for everyone. One sheet salutes an extensive list called Burch Steaks: six cuts, two price points each ($11/22-30/60) and three sources: grass-fed, Niman natural and the Ranch’s prime — all served ungarnished save for a trio of housemade condiments: a zingy, A-1 type sauce, a super-lemony, rich beyond belief bearnaise, and a cache of snappy pickled mushrooms.
First arrives a complimentary cache of breads: buttery brioche, focaccia, pretzel, a pillowy Parker House-like cushion and a ruddy slice enriched with beets. Then it’s off to the other list, the fun stuff: raw, salads and starters, dumplings, and sides ($6-12). We began with lamb tartare — sweet, full-flavored and glistening like a pyramid of rubies, balanced by the yin/yang of sheep’s milk yogurt and roasted Fresno peppers, exploding like landmines of heat and pleasure.
Next, a starter called bridie, which seemed to mean noodle packet. The purse held (unsweetened) chocolate-braised rabbit — an unexpected combo that should be required eating. It’s mixed with acorn squash and pine nuts, however, which merely clutter and deflect the marriage.
More bundles in the Dumplings section, from which we selected the kinkhali — a flaky pastry plump with minced veal and pork — like meatloaf en croute: fine, but ho-hum — until you factor in the sexy little strands of chilies waving from atop. More exotica for next time, along with a more balanced list of salads, and the sides you’ll call on to partner your steak.
Aside that gentle-flavored, thick-cut sirloin, perfectly seared, we opted for the sautéed kale — urgently earthy, salted with sharp ricotta salata and pungent with dried peppers — a dandy, and robust, partner to the gentle beef.
A few other mains are offered ($16-30), and, frankly, that’s where I’d return. Our choice — a boudin blanc sausage almost too rich and tasty to be legal: buxom, fatty and flavorful with duck liver. It comes punctuated with tiny commas of spaetzle noodles and a painting of mustard sauce. Terrific. Or order pork shoulder, a whole pressed duck or seafood options.
Desserts, $9, come by the slice (carrot cake, coconut cake, lemon tart, etc.); by the plate (crème brulee, madeleines), or, our choice, and a good one: eight tiny sweetmeats cavorting from macaroon to chili truffle, from salted chocolate to foie profiteroles.
Burch’s personality is split a third way: The basement features a grotto trattoria, too.
1924 Hennepin Ave.