[have you tried?] Burch Steak
[have you tried?] features a small glimpse at the under-appreciated brew, a neighborhood gem, an oldie but goodie, a new classic, or an often overlooked treat.
I have lived in Whittier and Lowry Hill for almost my entire adult life. Therefore, for most of my entire adult life I have been befuddled by The Burch Pharmacy. The Burch Pharmacy was located on the corner of Hennepin Ave and Franklin Ave from 1930 until 2010. [photo: Ghost Signs of Mpls]
“A telling factoid: The 1948 Minneapolis City Directory listed 215 drugstores across the city, all but a handful independently owned. In 2010, exactly one of those remained: Burch Pharmacy.” – Spy Twin Cities
It was years before I actually walked in, but when I did I was shocked by the sheer size of the place, not to mention the fact that CVS and Walgreens hadn’t sent the place packing years ago. Snowglobes, old-fashioned candy, potted plants, and modern pharmacy amenities were scattered around the damp-smelling shop like a relic of history travelling through a time machine.
After it’s closure in 2010, there was a feeling of expectant melancholy. And at the news that a restaurant (one by chef Isaac Becker, no less) would soon occupy the lucrative and historic corner, an impatient murmur began to build among neighbors.
Burch Steak features several things that you won’t find at any other steakhouses. First, their steaks are offered in two sizes (which, as with half pours of beer, I applaud). All of their meat is humanely raised! Yes, all of it, by Niman Ranch, and the selection includes grass-fed beef. Finally, they have a pizza bar in the basement.
The pizza bar is where you’ll find this girl on a fairly regular basis.
The ambiance is hard to beat. The historic timber, cool neon lighting, and pragmatic-modern subway tile create a mix of textures that is cozy yet upscale.
It helps that the place smells like an Italian campfire.
After looking over the leather bound wine book and immense cocktail selection, I was a teeny bit disappointed to see the beer selection. While I do not expect every restaurant to specialize in beer, the choices left a bit to be desired.
I did appreciate the local selections, but several had run out and there were no interesting limiteds or seasonals. I was happy with a Surly Bender.
For food I ordered the Coppa Cotta – a pizza with pork shoulder, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and hazelnuts – and Grilled Asparagus Salad with anchovy dressing and soft-boiled egg.
The asparagus had a unique char and was dressed perfectly with a tangy and salty coating that complimented the grassy asparagus perfectly. The soft-boiled egg provided a creaminess that rounded out the plate.
When it comes to pizza, I consider myself very well versed, having worked at Punch Pizza for about 4 years, and very palate-formative ones at that.
The Neapolitan woodfired technique was executed perfectly and the crust had the perfect amount of char. I loved the hazelnuts with the pork shoulder and the mozzarella was excellent quality. The pork shoulder was cut paper thin and at first I didn’t recognize it for anything but prosciutto. The nuttiness of the Surly Bender was a great pairing for this dish.
The only thing I can fault the place on besides being out of beers was the inconsistent service. One waiter came over but only after a fairly long wait and since he never returned to take our order, someone else did. That person wasn’t aware of changes to the beer selection or items they had run out of.
I made a second trip to Burch Steak with my family about a week later. This time we sat upstairs – they serve everything on both levels.
I love the idea of having two distinctly different dining environments, and I can see myself craving both for different reasons.
We had knowledgeable and timely service amidst the beautiful daylight-flooded dining room. The open kitchen and dessert display created a depth to the culinary showmanship.
My parents adored their Market Fish – river sturgeon with peas- and I tried bites of several items including another exquisite pizza (this time the Funghi with perfectly creamed leeks and rich mushrooms).
The beer list had not changed, but the Rush River Unforgiven Amber was being featured, a great match for the pizza!
I highly recommend their side of corn with speck, veal and pork dumplings, as well as the Baba Rhum cake.
The minds behind Burch Steak truly know what they are doing, and although their upstairs/downstairs concept isn’t brand new, it is very well executed. Give a bit of time for server training and course pacing, and this place will be more than a neighborhood gem.