Feb 6, 2023 - Food and Drink

First look: Butcher & the Boar 2.0 stands on its own

A photo of a black building and a photo of a plate of chicken.

Butcher & the Boar's new location; the charred chicken, cheesy grits and Pearls Before Swine cocktail. Photos: Audrey Kennedy/Axios

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

Photos of two cocktails and a wooden bar.
Brandy Old Fashioned, 24 Karat Milk Punch, the restaurant's bar and the Cross Pollination. Photos: Audrey Kennedy/Axios

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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