First look: Butcher & the Boar 2.0 stands on its own
Butcher & the Boar is back. The award-winning restaurant known for its smoked meats opens in North Loop Tuesday, Feb. 7, with a reimagined menu, new ownership, and plenty of whiskey.
Catch up fast: The original Butcher & the Boar on Hennepin Avenue abruptly closed in September 2020 after eight years, inciting a bidding war for the rights to its name, menu and building.
- Jester Concepts, the restaurant group behind Parlour, P.S. Steak and Constantine, won the naming and menu rights, giving us Butcher 2.0.
- The Butcher's Tale, a separate restaurant with different ownership, was opened in 2021 in the Butcher & the Boar's original location.
I stopped by the new place to see if the buzz was worth it.
The location: Butcher 2.0 is only a block from North Loop's bustling Washington Avenue, but feels off the beaten path; the drab exterior (it was an office building, after all) made it easy to miss at night.
- One perk: Unlike most North Loop businesses, it has a parking lot and ample street parking.
The atmosphere: Most of the space is decked out in black, but the wood accents, comfortable leather booths and warm glow from hanging lights make it feel cozy, not cold.
- Freestanding tables have rugs beneath for a homey feel; the enormous custom bar features a giant stuffed boar as a centerpiece.
- Though the place was packed with people, the noise level stayed low all night.
What we ordered: Don't be fooled by the reputation — Butcher 2.0's menu is more than just steak and whiskey.
- I started with the blue crab beignets, a light and savory fried dough that melts in your mouth. No strong seafood flavor: it was delicious, but my dining partner called it the "essence of crab."
- The thick slab of Braunschweiger sausage topped with onions wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing appetizer, but it made up for its looks in taste — the spice lingers in the best way, and the accompanying gruyere is a must.
Main course: We settled on a ribeye and the charred chicken.
- Steaks can be easily overpowered by their accompaniments, but Butcher 2.0 kept its focus on the meat. The cognac-mushroom cream sauce complimented the dish perfectly.
- The chicken was generously portioned and looked beautiful, but even with the creamy dill labneh…it's just chicken.
Plus: I loved the cheesy grits topped with whiskey honey, and the roasted potatoes were crispy and well-seasoned without being a salt bomb.
Note: Though Butcher has less-expensive sister restaurants a few blocks away, this is still a steakhouse.
- Appetizers, salads and sausages hover around $20; steaks range from $42-$80 with multiple market price options.
My thought bubble: I am not Butcher's target audience. I rarely eat red meat, don't enjoy dark liquor, and never visited the original restaurant.
- Despite that, the luxe atmosphere, menu variety, excellent food, and quality service had me planning a date night at the bar by the time I left.
- This Butcher & The Boar may not be the first, but it stands on its own.
🍸 What's at the bar
Butcher's cocktail menu takes a unique approach to "something for everybody."
- Each drink has three versions: The classic, the bar's spin on it, and a non-alcoholic option.
Brandy Old Fashioned: The lack of whiskey and added splash of spiced apple bitters made this the only Old Fashioned I've ever liked. 9/10.
Cross Pollination: Nonalcoholic drinks can be delicious, but this "Manhattan" with NA whiskey, orange and honey tasted like citrus-infused water. 2/10.
Pearls Before Swine: This is the ultimate dirty martini. Butcher's version uses oyster-shell infused vodka, which gives the drink a seawater-like brine, a slight umami flavor and plenty of salt.
- My dining partner called it the best martini he's ever had. I tried one sip and gagged. Average rating: 5/10.
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