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  • Writer's picturePaige Latham Didora

nighthawks and pickled PBR

Nighthawks dog

I don’t work in data analytics, business, or marketing, but I do know beer and food. I will say this and would bet good money on it: Nighthawks is doomed to be a favorite far and wide for years to come.

Location, Location, Location? Sure. The little Kingfield intersection is blossoming faster than anything I’ve ever seen. The past year has seen the opening of Five Watt Coffee, Kyatchi, and now Nighthawks, a modernized conceptualization of a diner. Added to the old stand-by’s – Cocina Latina, Blackbird, and Cinco de Mayo – it’s powerhouse roster. That being said, the newcomer stands on its own; its success isn’t merely vicarious.

I arrived on a Thursday evening and waited at the bar for a friend. Their beer list was phenomenal – local representation, but not just for the sake of being local, plus unexpected offerings like Unibroue Terrible and Barbe Ruby. The cocktails take somewhat of a backseat as no bottles of booze are prominently displayed on the bar. About 6 of the 8 cocktails contain beer, too. True to form, I went for the weird. In this case, that meant a pickled PBR. Pabst Blue Ribbon is sent through a Hop Rocket (used in this case as a Randall) with coriander, dill, garlic, and other pickling spices. The result is clearly in the briny pickle realm, yet mild enough to be less novelty and more masterpiece.

drink menu nighthawks

The pickled PBR was essentially an appetizer, setting the stage for the coming meal. I took in the coriander aroma and crisp dill finish, savoring it more and more with each sip. What an incredible use of the Randall technique and supremely unique beverage for the warming days.

Nighthawks sings where other diner riffs fail to deliver. It avoids the pitfalls of costumey (silver swivel stools and paper hats anyone?) fluorescent / 24-hour / red eye annoyances (The abysmal Nicollet Diner, for instance, can be seen from space, 24 hours a day) and yet is does not stray too far from its roots. In another enigmatic feat, the broad scope of the menu doesn’t muddle the concept, either. It maintains enough of a boundary to make sense, between eggs, pancakes, fried chicken, hot dogs, sandwiches, and blue plate specials.

pickled PBR

One element that surely deserves praise is the joyful service. I don’t mean barber-shop-quartet level – there is just enough grit and tattoos to please any surly hipster – I mean pride. The expo consistently smirked as he exited the kitchen with dish after dish, as if to say “just look at what we did.” My bartender loved explaining how, exactly, a PBR gets pickled. Refreshing.

fried gizzards

Chef Landon Schoenefeld opted to use Eggo waffles for the chicken and waffles, not wanting to fix an unbroken breakfast food. If I had to pick a weakness in our flawless experience, the lack of fluff and malt in the waffles would be it. You would never notice though, as the maple drizzle and very crispy, perfectly seasoned fried chicken steal the spotlight.

Finally, an archetectural marvel, the Nighthawks Hot Dog. Using a foot-long Kramarchuk’s dog might be cheating, but the toppings wave this one home. Red Dragon cheese, a creamy cheese made with mustard seeds, lies atop the dog with kimchee and shoestring fried onions. This is not a first date food. It has to be eaten over the plate as some of the accompaniments certainly fall off. The texture of the poppy seed bun holds up to the liquid as all of the flavors come together, bite after bite.

toast with pickled PBR

Revival, less than ten blocks away, will be Nighthawks’ biggest competition, but the ideas are totally different despite a few overlaps in their menus (fried chicken livers v. fried turkey gizzards).  Besides, where else can I find a pickled PBR within biking distance?

#minneapolis #Kingfield #nighthawks #BeerList #gizzard #Restaurant #chickenandwaffles #newrestaurant #pickledPBR

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