Butcher Salt

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http://www.butchersalt.com/

https://www.facebook.com/butchersalttruck

Main Location: Minneapolis, Breweries, Etc

              It’s been a long, long winter in this juncture between 2013 and 2014, and I’ve had my share of boring days having to wait for the trucks to come back, and frustration in missed opportunities and futile searches. But finally, the days are warming up, the sun is back, the snow is receding, and the trucks have come back to Minneapolis!

              And just my luck, I had the chance to head down not only on the very first official day back of the year, but to the very first New mobile business of 2014! Butcher Salt has been on my radar for a while after seeing their startup posts, not to mention their signatory concept for unifying their menu items.

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              With a veritable selection of different meat-based, American handheld favorites like Hot Dogs, Sliders and a roast beef sandwich called the Ranger, which are then placed next to Hashbrowns and (ugh) a Salad. With not much of a theme between items besides the fact that they might all be found in a stereotypical (though very delicious) Diner, Butcher ramps up each gloriously prepared piece of meat and vegetable with a little seasoning they name, as one would expect, “Butcher Salt.”

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               Simply a good quality sea salt infused alongside rosemary, thyme, and other herbs, this large-grained rock is sprinkled liberally over their foods to provide proper seasoning and in-depth dimensions. Or something like that. They even let the grains fall over desserts, like their Salted Caramel and the oddly-placed Crème Brulee.

               Of course it’s not the only thing they rely on; pepperjack and spicy cheese sauce, sautéed peppers, and the required bacon festoon multiple items, like the “Stuffed” Hash Browns (really it’s just layered, but looks like a tasty breakfast item).

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               Oh, and they have some of the coolest toys! Look at all of the fun things they got; a special wooden stand for the tablet to do your card-swiping, customized phone case, and the cutest little wooden tip Truck! Reminds me of my own childhood one. These set on top of a display case of various shirts and other memorabilia for us to purchase; seems to be a trend nowadays no?

               So, after multiple months of waiting, it’s time to get back to a full rating review! I just can’t wait for the self-centered indulgence!

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Food:9

                Despite only being able to purchase two of their menu items, the owners/employees were generous enough to give me a small piece of their Roast Beef to sample the flavor! And damn, it was good; tender, beefy, really moist with that au jus or whatever they keep it in. Craveably salty, but I’d imagine it’d calm down nicely in the whole sandwich.

                Overall I’d probably use that word to describe the whole menu, “Craveable.” Everything I had was just warm and comforting, umami-focused with that poignant sense that properly, fully seasoned food can do which just makes you want it more.

                I felt it a lot with those Sliders. Buns may be toasted, but that crunch is destroyed as soon as you bite into those thick little patties, their juices spreading all over the sturdy bread and your fingers; and you don’t care. The meat is just… oh, these are the closest sliders I’ve ever seen come to those good-quality, thick juicy burgers. It just has that wet, sorta chewy but fully tender texture that slicks around your mouth as you eat it. Just heaven.

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                And that’s just the meat. You top this with gooey cheese and grilled onions that are sorta cooked, sorta raw, and with the other toppings taste sorta pickled too, the best expressions of all three. The pickles themselves, which I’m pretty sure are just the simpler, store-bought style, I doubt they made them, but that firm crunch and sharp salt+acid flavor is somehow just perfect with everything else, cutting through and increasing the seasoning aspect ever further. I think I can safely say that these are the best Food Truck Sliders in Minnesota (at least for now).

                As for the Hash Browns, they tasted good, had that nice gooey cheesiness and hash browny flavor; probably wouldn’t mind getting the “stuffed” version if I needed a morning fix one day. However it was all one soft texture, I wish they had been able to actually get the potatoes somewhat crispy/crunchy; really lowered the experience to something I could get at most places.

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Holdability: 8

                Basket-based, with multiple items requiring at least one hand to hold part of the food while the other eats, via multiple sliders or needing a fork. Those that could be one-handed, like the beefy Ranger, are quite the juicy messy affair, not that that’s a bad thing; the best burgers and sliders leave half their flavor on the fingers! And aren’t they just nice enough to wrap the baskets completely in foil for those buying multiple items and/or needing to transport it some distance before eating.

                The Crème Brulee stands a bit out of place; I’ve never really considered it street food in any real sense. Placed inside a throwaway foil ramekin, though, it does make it possible to eat while walking, like a caramelized pudding cup!

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Price: 8

                 There are two main price points; all sandwiches/main entrée-sized items stand at $8, which seems reasonable based off what I was given (and can imagine for the Roast Beef Sandwich), though I couldn’t see paying that much for the Caprese, basically just cheese and tomatoes. Besides these, Hot Dogs and Side items stand at $5, also reasonable(ish maybe) except for, in my opinion, the Hashbrowns. Just seems too small and simple for anything over even $3, I mean it’s just soft potatoes (not even fried) and cheese (well, and bacon, but sadly they ran out on my visit…). Finally, $4 for the Brulee, not sure if the salted caramel is the same or less, hoping for the latter. Overall it’s great individually though buying multiple items can grey the lines.

Speed: 7.5

                 Average cooking speeds, giving you ample time to have a fun chat and ogle over all the fun doodads!

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The TOE: 9.5

                  From the front, I wasn’t really sure I’d get that much of an overall feeling of “place” that I search for, especially due to the generic-ness of using only hot dogs, small burgers, and roast beef for the menu focus. Once you eat it, though, you sorta get it… I think there’s a centered-ness to them, a great personality that rings through the deliciously prepared food. The little doodads help too.

                I still think that having Crème Brulee as the main dessert option is really weird though, sorta off-centers the whole thing a bit. Opposite that, though, the Butcher Salted Caramel sounds AMAZING; I can’t wait to come back and grab it in the Summer (when it’s served). I’d say they’ve reached Official Toe Ring status.

                       Tally: 42/50

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Final Thoughts

              Probably one of the better street stops when one has that “Meat” craving, with some good, safe bets centered on the Butcher Salt Sliders and Ranger as the main items to get. Secondarily, if in the mood for breakfast with neither of the main morning trucks on the street, their Stuffed Hash Browns may just be the item to choose among the crowd. And a third highlight, with a great snack or food-truck-day stop for those Caramels. A veritable rolling triple threat.

              Definitely a great business to start off 2014!

A Reluctant Saturday Night Review, aka La Belle Crepe at Harriet

               I’ve been antsy lately, and last Saturday night didn’t help. It’s been… what, 3 months since I was last able to review a new Truck? And that was just temporary winter pop up version of something already existing. And now, with the snow melting and weather warming, teasing me with urges to go outside with visions of Truck rallies to come, only to be roped away with work and the realities that it’s still winter (well, not technically, but for MN…).

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                Thought I would have had this fixed a couple weeks ago with a great chance off to go to Harriet with a friend when the new Butcher Salt was out… and then work screwed me over. Again a clear ray of hope showed this past week; yet another new truck at Harriet, “La Belle Crepe,” and a friend available to join in a fun night of music, drinking and food.

                Well, there was a $5 cover, I didn’t find out until after I got there that the friend had a double shift, and the “truck” was just a catering table in the back corner. Can’t quite say which part I was most disappointed with, but how ‘bout we just focus on the food aspect?

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                That just really, really sucked… you don’t know how excited I was when I thought La Belle Crepe had started their own mobile operation. I’ve been to their café in downtown Minneapolis (you should too; it’s this tiny little closet-shop, like you’d find in France, just before 9th on Nicolette Ave), and they’re pretty good. We’ve been needing a GOOD, proper Crepe Truck for a long time, something with tasty components and a fun attitude.

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                Let me tell you why they would have fit the bill. Firstly, as one would expect, the crepes are awesome; good thickness, SOFT, really reminiscent of what the proper French pancake should feel and taste like. Add that to a copious variety of homemade fillings in the style of sweets, savories, and breakfast, and we have a delicious bundle of joy perfect for mobile eating. They aren’t all classic fillings either; one can get Caramel Apple, Orange dream, Spicy Chicken and Crab, Gyros, dill & Lox, Benedict, etc.

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                But wait, there’s more. Not only do they offer crepes, Belle also makes other French classic comforts like Gelato and Croque-Monsieur/Madame. Oh, and Vietnamese food, tasty tasty Vietnamese food like Pho and Bahn Mi. Reminded me of the Korean-Crepe truck my friend had found in Texas, only not quite so Fusion; Vietnamese cuisine HAS had a lot of French influence, so it makes sense with the concept.

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                Well, I had already paid the $5 entrance fee, so as much as I didn’t want to spend extra money it would have been a waste to just leave the place as-is. Thus I was able to actually sample one of their sandwiches, the Hoisin Pulled Pork. Oh boy was that good, each side completely slathered in the Hoisin Mayo, all those dressed and pickled veggies just shoved and stuffed in there (you should see them pile it on and push it in with the spatula), and the pork wasn’t too bad either.

                A little bit of sirachi on half with the tart veggies, it went really well with Harriet’s version of Sahti, a Sour Ale brewed with juniper berries and cedar chips instead of hops (tasted a bit like lambic, so I was already in a bit of a happy place).

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                The bread wasn’t the best sadly, being served without feeling the loving embrace of a searing hot grill or oven, but to be fair that was due to the setup. They DO toast it at the café, and I would assume if able to go mobile they would ensure a proper heat source to do it for orders as well. Also, the Cilantro (which there was a ton of, thank you! So good), served in whole bunches, was a bit… sagging. But again, I had ordered a sandwich about 5 hours (at least) after they got there with no proper refrigeration unit besides a cooler.

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                At the end of the day, they offer a fun concept with delicious, portable offerings, and I sorely hope they might get on the streets soon to properly replace a certain Other Truck. As for me, I still sit here, antsy and stuck, ever waiting for my first proper shot at a new truck this year.

               -sigh- At least it’s getting warmer.

Finnegan’s Reverse Food (Drive) Truck

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In 11 days, the non-profit local beer company “Finnegans” is launching a great new idea in Food Drives with their “Reverse” Food Truck, which The Current recently wrote a great article about after sitting down with CEO Jacquie Bergland. Read and listen to it Here: http://www.thecurrent.org/feature/2014/02/27/interview-with-finnegans-jacquie-berglund-reverse-food-truck

It may not exactly fit the mold of something I can review, but still I hope for the chance to be able to make it out to one of their stops in the upcoming months. Definitely am wishing them all good luck in this venture, and happy hunting for all those others looking to help!