For nostalgic reasons, I have a hard time being objective about Isaac Becker’s restaurants. Long story short: After moving here, my wife and I went to 112 Eatery for our anniversary, and we’ve now gone there every year since. So dedicated we are, we mark June 12 on our calendars to remind us that that was the day we could make reservations. So when we were able to get to Burch Steak in the Lowry Hill neighborhood, we were ecstatic and came away planning our next visit. But not for the reasons you’d expect.
Becker, the James Beard Award-winning chef/owner of 112 Eatery and Bar La Grassa, turned the old Burch Pharmacy into a steak house (upstairs) and pizzeria (downstairs). The ambiance is great, if not loud – although the exposed ceilings and original tile floors have a lot to do with that.
While the atmosphere is great, the food – as you’d hope – is the real showstopper. We started with the fried semolina dumplings, served in a brown butter sauce, with fried sage and covered in parmesan cheese. The sage and brown butter combination gave it a great nutty taste, while the dumpling had a great crust on the outside and was soft inside.
I’m a strong believer that you can’t have too much brown butter, which is why we also got the broiled prawns in brown butter with lime and hazelnuts. The lime segments added a perfect touch of acid to go with the nuts and the prawns.
So far, so good. But oddly enough, it was the steak where things went a little sideways.
The steak house menu offers three different types of steaks – grass-fed, natural beef and prime beef. Fortunately, we had an extremely knowledgeable server who gave us the run down on what the different types of steaks were. There were seven choices of cuts for the grass-fed and natural, and five for the prime.
It’s possible our choice of filet is where it went wrong. A thicker cut takes longer to cook to medium, so there was a lot of char on the outside of the steak. A thinner cut or a more rare steak probably would have been better. On the plus side, they do offer two sizes of most steaks, and you don’t pay a premium price for a half-size cut; a 6 oz. flat iron is $13, while the 12 oz. version is $26.
Right: The filet, while tasty, won’t make the cut for our next trip to Burch Steak.
The sides didn’t disappoint. We shared the roasted carrots with thyme and chevre, and the triple-cooked chips. Don’t let the name of the latter fool you; these are thick wedges of potatoes that are extra-crispy on the outside, yet soft inside. Easily the second-best order of fries I’ve had at a restaurant (sorry, but nothing tops the Fulton beer-battered fries from Butcher and the Boar).
We didn’t get dessert. Don’t blame us – we over indulged on the rest of the food, leaving me with a paltry amount for lunch the day after. However, nothing really cried out to us either, which is a regular occurrence at 112 Eatery as well. The other problem is that arguably the best ice cream in the Twin Cities, Sebastian Joe’s, is across the street from the Burch. Even on a cold Saturday in April, the line was almost to the back door.
All in all, it was a great meal, even with the shortcoming on the steak. Five things ordered and four of them outstanding made it a winning trip. On the next trip, we may just load up on the other varieties of dumplings instead of getting a steak.
At top: The Semolina Dumplings (left) and Broiled Prawns made the trip to Burch Steak worth the price admission.