The “Heartland”—so named for the enormous beating heart in a jar that tourist-trapped so many early settlers—has always been known more for its namesake than its cooking. But the region has made huge culinary strides, as today’s Groupon demonstrates: for $30, you get $65 worth of upscale Midwestern cuisine and drinks at Porter & Frye, located in the historic Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis.
Creative dishes aim to turn the common meal into an artistic experience by adding international accents to classic country cooking. The Midwestern charm begins, as in any good farmhouse, with breakfast. Omelettes ($12) get a gourmet upgrade with options such as smoked salmon with brie and asparagus, or peppers with tomato, olives, and goat cheese. If your sweet tooth won't stop texting you, treat it to ricotta pancakes covered in raspberries and vanilla butter ($9) or irresistibly rich French toast with ginger cream, bananas, and walnuts ($10). Breakfast spills over into the lunch hour with the fried egg sandwich ($9), done up in its Sunday best with crispy bacon, sharp cheddar, and tomato jam. For something more traditionally lunchy, stick with the classic bacon cheeseburger ($13) or the spinach salad ($7), thoughtfully tossed with pear, spiced pecans, bleu cheese, and sweet onion. Dinner brings out the big guns to help heat your bodily furnace through the harsh Minnesota winter, with most dishes built around a single, classic staple (meat, fish, fowl, or pasta). The juicy Black Angus tenderloin ($37) is inventively accented with pickled mushrooms and bleu cheese, while the veal chop ($38) comes with mac 'n' cheese, mustard greens, and barbecue sauce.
Porter & Frye’s modern, elegant décor, dark-wood furnishings, and gently sloping booths add to the atmosphere of warm sophistication. The inviting space and charming menu warrant return visits, and with no purchase limit on Groupons, feel free to make Porter & Frye your second, slightly more crowded living room.
Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine lists Porter & Frye as an editor's choice. The Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, City Pages, and Gayot have all featured the restaurant, praising the commendable comestibles:
- Several of pastry chef Juliette Lelchuk’s desserts are astonishingly original and good, too: a sort of deconstructed cheesecake in which a sphere of cheesecake filling is paired with a Martian-landscape of poached pears resting on a thin skating-rink of chèvre dotted with thyme syrup is sweet, tangy, not too complicated, and has an appealing purity. – Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, Minnesota Monthly
- The salad list gets as much respect as the entrees. Stellar combinations include frisée with cranberry beans, beets, goat cheese, grapefruit, and smoked salmon; and arugula with golden beets and kumquats, the greens stunningly presented bursting from a crisp bread tube. – Rachel Hutton, City Pages
- The food was great as well as the service. I had the new york [sic] strip and it was very very good. I would highly recommend it. The atmosphere is nice and staff are very friendly. – OpenTable user who dined on 12/31/2009