Where do the Twin Cities’ top toques go to eat after a day in a hot kitchen? In the waning hours of any given evening, you’ll likely find several of them congregated at the 112 Eatery in the Minneapolis Warehouse District.
Among the frequently spotted chefs and owners who drop by for a late-night bite are Alex Roberts and his Restaurant Alma co-owner Jim Reininger, Josh Thoma and Tim McKee from Solera, D’Amico Cucina’s John Occhiato, the Minikahda Country Club’s executive chef Ferris Schiffer, Jack Riebel from the Dakota, and Peter Botcher from Barbette. One of the main reasons these culinary luminaries gather here is the restaurant’s convenient location and convivial atmosphere, particularly at the small bar. A second is that the kitchen serves its entire menu until 1 a.m., long past the hour when just about every other decent kitchen in town has closed.
But the most important draw of all is chef Isaac Becker’s value-priced and imaginative cooking.
Becker, who is home grown and locally trained, professes to be as surprised as anyone about the popularity of his cooking with both the dining public and the local food pros. He set out to cook what he enjoyed eating and it’s turned out that he is far from alone in his vision of what tastes good. Whether it’s impeccable steak tartare, sunny-side-up Chinese fried eggs topped with scallions and spritzed with oyster sauce, or something heartier like roast, pressed chicken for two, there’s an abundance of great selections.
Lamb Scottadito, three pan-fried lamb chops served with a pesto goat’s-milk yogurt, has become a signature item. Before being seared, the thinly cut chops are coated in just melted lard, and the result is a crispy crust that’s extraordinary. I only wish that a fourth chop would be offered for an upcharge so an order could be equally split.
The Bacon, Egg, and Harissa Sandwich is a delightfully scrumptious twist on the classic bacon-and-egg combination. This rendition features crisp, thick, sweet bacon, a slightly runny egg, and a smear of spicy Moroccan hot sauce. It’s difficult to convey just how great a snack this makes.
What’s surprising about the Tagliatelle With Foie Gras Meatballs is the light and delicate quality of the meatballs; they’re absolutely superlative. So, too, are the perfectly timed, homemade noodles bathed in cream sauce.
Good to Know
It’s not just local chefs who love the food here. Because a majority of tables are held for walk-ins, a reservation at 112 is arguably the hardest one to secure in town. The situation improved a bit last summer, when additional seating was opened on the second floor, but waits of up to two hours for a table aren’t uncommon. As for the service, Becker’s wife, Nancy St. Pierre, seems to be everywhere at once, and the hospitality is palpable.
112 N. 3rd Street., Minneapolis
M-Sa, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Su, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Entrees, Small $5-9, Large $16-$28