Just back from a month in the US, Tom and I are luxuriating in our memories of The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The restaurant, under the direction of James Beard awardee chef Paul Berglund, teases guests’ taste buds to ‘think Scandinavia’ and ‘eat local’ all at once.
The restaurant, with its clean lines and contemporary furnishings, occupies a brick-and-timber former warehouse in the North Loop just a couple of blocks from the Mississippi River. The Bachelor Farmer opened in 2011 as a project of brothers Eric and Andrew Dayton, and in the years since, has continually evolved to provide a well-rounded culinary atmosphere for Minneapolis diners (In addition to the fine dining restaurant, the complex includes the Marvel Bar, The Bachelor Farmer Café, and a menswear shop, Askov Finlayson).
The Bachelor Farmer hand-processes its meat on-site and uses organic products whenever possible. The restaurant also grows herbs and vegetables on its rooftop farm.
With a wine program led by rising-star sommelier Erin Rolek and a lively troupe of dedicated chefs and servers, the culinary experience hit our every gastronomic button. To our delight, we could spend a little time with both Paul and Erin and learn something about the people behind the excellence that shines at The Bachelor Farmer. Read on for more about our delicious evening at TBF.
Chef Paul Berglund, James Beard Best in Midwest 2016
Chef Paul Berglund was honored in 2016 with the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest. He has been at the helm of The Bachelor Farmer kitchen since the restaurant opened.
“We began with a menu that was ostensibly Scandinavian, researched and put together a menu,” Paul says. “Over time we learned what worked, and it was a couple of years before we made an authentic voice in food.”
The restaurant celebrates the city’s Scandinavian food heritage in ways that evoke Nordic traditions while compartmentalizing dishes to complement each other. The aim is to facilitate diners’ interacting with each other, as well as with the food.
If the happy sounds from around every table in the place is any indication, Chef Berglund is onto something!
Our dinner menu at TBF
The menu offers multiple taste experiences: appetizers, toasts, entrees, and dessert. So that we could make it through all of them, Tom and I each ordered a main course, and one dish each from the other categories.
While we browsed the menu and dithered over our choices, sommelier Erin Rolek brought us a glass of white wine from northern Italy. We polished off our aperitif with a starter of roasted and pickled zucchini, bagna cauda and bread crumbs.
Next up was duck liver pâté, served with toasted brown bread, morsels of pickled vegetables and two mustards. Crunchy fennel, cucumbers, and mushrooms complemented the delicate smoothness of the pâté. Our wine for this course was an unfiltered white from Spain.
We chose as mains, a sausage platter and a dish of grilled summer squash with toasted almonds, Parmesan, spelt and oyster mushroom ragout. The beef sausage, made in-house, was seasoned with a nod to Asia, served on a bed of peppery mizuna, with torn bread and house-made ‘old-water’ (as of our visit, the master stock had been building for the past four years!).
Sharing the sausage platter was a good idea, both because it is richly flavored and because it is hefty in stature, a true ‘American-sized’ serving. The vegetables were yummy and right-sized, although the topping of Parmesan cheese made for a slightly incongruous pairing. A side of caramelized green beans with crispy shallots corrected this and went beautifully with the beefy entrée. With advice from server Mike, we enjoyed a harmonic red wine from a small producer in France’s upper Rhône Valley with this course.
The sweet ending to our meal was a chocolate peanut butter pot de crème with caramel, whipped cream, and candied nuts—and two spoons. First, the sweet crunch of peanuts, followed by a plunge of the spoon into several sublimely rich layers of sweet. Decadent. Sublime.
Cruising with James Beard
Chef Paul Bergland will bring his culinary flair to the August sailing of the Windstar cruise line’s Star Pride, on an 11-day journey from Reykjavik to Dublin. As the yacht makes its way to Ireland, with stops in the Faroe Islands, Norway, and Scotland, lucky passengers will have a chance to experience the chef’s innovative take on Scandinavian cuisine while following an exciting cruise itinerary.
Last year, when Tom and I sailed on the inaugural cruise in the James Beard Culinary Collection we appreciated the many opportunities we had to enjoy the company of chef and sommelier. Star Pride guests will have numerous such opportunities to speak with a chef who looks forward to getting to know his fellow passengers, and is “always looking for a good conversation.”
Erin Rolek, Food & Wine Sommelier of the Year 2017
As general manager of The Bachelor Farmer, Sommelier Erin Rolek oversees both dining room service and the wine list. She was recently named by Food & Wine Magazine as one of eight 2017 Sommeliers of the Year—a first ever for Minnesota.
Erin welcomed us to the restaurant and took a few moments before things got busy to talk to us about her wine program. “Our list features cool-climate, northern hemisphere wines”, she told us, a good fit for chef Paul Berglund’s focus on cool-region culinary products and cooking traditions. Calling these wines ‘pure and playful’, the sommelier praises their ability to pair with a wide range of foods. Tom and I certainly found the wines we tried to be exactly as advertised: refreshing, complex and light on alcohol.
Sampling wine at TBF
As already mentioned, the wine list at The Bachelor Farmer is exclusively from cooler climates and from the northern hemisphere. Glasses of wine can be shared, which encourages sampling. The restaurant’s wine chalkboard is also a great way to enjoy wines by the glass from the extended wine list, without committing to a pricey bottle just to pair with a single dish or course. How else could we have tried the four different wines that made our meal so special?!
Wine pairings for our meal
Paté toast: Verdejo, ‘Veragua’ 2015 from Pagos de Nona in Castilla y León, Spain
Main course: 2014 Saint-Joseph Rouge, ‘Offerus’ JL Chave Selection, a Syrah from the upper Rhône Valley, France.
Digestif: Torres 20-year brandy from Spain.
Our favorite wine of the evening was the JL Chave Syrah with our main course. As soon as we made our selection of the last glasses from the open bottle, Mike hustled to the chalk board to erase the listing before anyone else could beat him to the bar with an order!
If you go
- Share and spread the culinary happiness across your table! Most dishes are excellent for this, and it enables you to create your own tasting menu. The servers know every dish and are happy to guide you.
- Order from the wine chalkboard to try some of the higher-end wines on the restaurant’s extended wine list.
- Can’t make dinner, but want to sample The Bachelor Farmer? Head to The Bachelor Farmer Café for breakfast pastries and coffee, or a light lunch.