The last week of May was a good one for eatin’ for ol’ Drew. FDCDC had its own excellent meal at ANXO earlier in the week and my coworkers and I gorged on an Ethiopian feast at Dukem the day after. My girlfriend and I then headed to Minneapolis for a wedding, but the secondary agenda for the weekend involved food. Got to some old favorites (hello, Lu’s) and some new cheap Caribbean eats (Pimento – omg, everyone go there NOW). Also finally got to try the delicious and ridic flavors at Milk Jam, marking the first time I have ever been ID’d to eat ice cream so I could try the champagne sorbet. Even the trip to Surly before the MN United soccer game offered up an insanely good lamb sausage. In short, good noms a plenty. No trip back to the Twin Cities would be complete, however, without a meal with the Fancy Dinner Club OGs. As such, we planned our Thursday night around dinner at Tullibee, a swanky joint in the Hewing Hotel. Joining the original crew that evening was my FDC-TC replacement, The J, and Chris’ wife, Teresa. A bigger group than unusual, which was good because there were some big ol’ appetites.
Brad, Matt, and I all arrived a little early as we had heard Tullibee was slinging some excellent cocktails. The first thing I noticed upon walking in is that everyone was very friendly (or maybe I just forgot how friendly Minnesotans are to strangers already). The second was that this place is HUGE. Not entirely surprising to have a hotel bar and restaurant accommodate lots of folks, but damn. Apparently Tullibee’s reputation has taken a little bit of a hit for being a large space where hipsters can get really really wasted on the weekend. If you’ve been in Tullibee’s bar area, it makes for a pretty funny image. Quirky decor mixed glassy eyed hipsters idly twirling their mustaches? My favorite Yelp review described the scene as “lumberjack-metrosexual” Major lulz. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) it was 6pm on a Thursday so we missed out on that experience. We were instead more interested in grabbing a few cocktails and playing a few rounds of pool before dinner started (fun fact: Tullibee’s pool table came from an old prison – how quaint!). Since I lost my notes on this meal when I switched phones, I am just going to assume I won every game. As for the drinks themselves, it was a bit of a mixed bag. Brad just ordered an old fashioned, which was actually really solid. Matt ordered some nutso drink with bee pollen in it that apparently tasted like pickle and was really silty? Sounded terrible. Mine was so non-descript I can’t even tell you what it was. For $11-12 a pop (in Minneapolis of all places!), not really worth it. Converted over to beer for the remainder of the evening.
The rest of the crew arrived shortly after and we got a nice table in the corner with a great view of the silly scene outside: a bunch of insanely nice sports cars parked in front of a strip club. It was pretty great entertainment watching passersby take selfies with strangers’ cars. I also remember trying cocktails that Chris and Teresa ordered and being super jealous because they were actually good. Apparently you just have to know what to order at the bar (and leave the bee pollen to the bees, silly humans!). A handful of us then kicked off the food-eating part of the meal with a round of oysters. They were fresh to death and tasted like the ocean (aka, delish).
Being the suckers we are for a fancy piece of bread, Tullibee’s beer bundt loaf was the obvious next item on the agenda. And I am glad we always gravitate towards bread because this thing ruled. Basically just a filled roll, where the filling was just delicious, herby butter. The bread itself had a nice crust to it, and the whole thing was melt-in-the-mouth good.
After that point the food started coming fast and furious. There were potatoes. There was chicken. There was steak. There was pork. There was bacon. Veggies were an afterthought (thanks but no thanks, Local Market Root Vegetable Salad). It was hearty and Midwestern af. There was also a bit of used car salesman-ness to their menu labels though. The potatoes were advertised as being “crispy potatoes”, but they were covered with cream and cheese and anything but crispy. But still very savory and real good. The chicken was supposed to a “half chicken”, and it was prolly closer to 5% of a chicken that 50%. That was a real disappointment, too, because the chicken itself was delicious, but I am too salty about the deception and price to remember what it actually tasted like (chicken, at the very least). Thankfully the bacon took things in another direction. I have never seen “bacon” that looked like that. It was probably an inch thick and topped with some sort of orange marmalade. It was the best bacon (quotes or not) I have ever had, bar none. The steak was one item that I think translated okay. It was supposed to be tri tip, though I can’t say I could have proved that either way. I’m no cow scientist. I honestly have no memory of the pork chop, but the picture below looks delicious. I also feel like we ordered an actual vegetable, but I can’t remember for the life of me what it was. Probably was good.
The highlight of the evening was probably the whole trout. After the “half chicken” debacle we were expecting to receive the size of fish you’d expect to catch of the side of a dock, but thankfully “whole” in this case translated to 200% instead of 100%. Not only was the fish enormous and impressively displayed, but Chef Jesus must have been in the house that night because I swear that fish simply did not run out of meat. The preparation was extremely simple – some lemon, some dill, some exposure to fire until it was a safe temperature to eat. I don’t love dill (I just recently figured out dill is the reason I hate pickles), but it wasn’t overpowering. And the fish itself. Oh shit. Definitely was set to slow roast in the kitchen. Flaky and tender. Also the the perfect dish to order when Brad is involved. At the end of the meal Brad will always be lobbying for more food, but in this case whenever we thought the trout was cashed out, there was more (trout cheek = v good). It kept Brad, The J, and their respective runners’ metabolisms well at bay.
We then ended the meal with a few ice cream sandwiches. It was salty and caramely and chocolately. Life was good.
One thing I will say about Tullibee, is that the price tag was pretty significant. Whereas most Twin Cities restaurants (or even DC restaurants) you can get away with an upscale meal with a few drinks for around $50, your wallet will Tulli-be hurtin’ after a meal here. It’s not atypical to have a hotel-connected restaurant with a if-you-don’t-want-to-leave-your-hotel-at-night-you’re-gonna-pay-for-it upcharge, but I think there was an audible cartoon “guuulp” when each of us took a look at the bill. In the burgeoning food scene of Minneapolis, it’s hard to justify shelling out a ton of extra dough for dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I WILL be back for that bacon, but I’d say Tullibee was somewhere in the middle in terms of quality of meal so it’d be hard for me to opt for a meal there when there are so many other great spots to choose from. See y’all at Tullibee for the next hipster drunk fest.