“Minnesota Monthly” magazine editor Rachel Hutton, a regular contributor on MPR News’ Appetites, spoke with Tom Crann of All Things Considered about Becker’s imprint on the Twin Cities dining scene.
TOM CRANN: How did Isaac Becker earn such a lofty title, Restaurateur of the Year?
RACHEL HUTTON: As our annual restaurant issue began approaching, I looked back on the restaurants I’d reviewed in the past year to see which had been most impressive. Burch quickly rose to the top. The restaurant, which is located in the former home of Burch Pharmacy at Franklin and Hennepin in south Minneapolis, had made a strong impression both for the fabulous meals and dining experience it offers, as well as the uniqueness of its concept.
CRANN: Burch is quite different from the typical steakhouse, then?
HUTTON: The steakhouse archetype usually involves a wood-lined dining room furnished with plump, oversize booths, evoking a retro, clubby vibe. The steakhouse attitude is typically equal parts hedonism and machismo: Manny’s, for example, offers a steak literally called the “Bludgeon of Beef.” Burch, by contrast, is more like the wine bar of steakhouses, in that offers most cuts in small and large portions, and in three grades: grass-fed, choice, and prime.
It’s very flexible: you can still go over-the-top, but not to the exclusion of modest appetites and checkbooks-and non beef-eaters, in fact. There are delicious lobster pizzas and dumplings, for example.
CRANN: And Burch isn’t Becker’s only success. I understand he’s three for three, so far?
HUTTON: Yes, looking back on Becker’s track record I realized that he and his wife and business partner, Nancy St. Pierre, have had quite a run in the past decade: 112 Eatery, which opened in 2005, and Bar La Grassa, which opened in 2009, have been just as successful as Burch. In fact, 112 represented a significant tipping point in the character of the Twin Cities dining scene.
Today’s Question: What is the best Minnesota restaurant for 2013?