How boring would it be for my wife and I if we agreed on everything? Shopping would be too easy if I didn’t have to stand in IKEA and talk her out of buying every candle that smelled good. If we were on the same page on pizza toppings, we’d have to enlarge our doors. Sleeping would be too easy if we always had half the blanket.
But that’s life: Sometimes you have to put the candle down, or try pineapple (did it Sunday – much better than I thought it’d be), or pick off mushrooms, or sleep with a corner covering your crotch and that’s it.
What we did agree on: Friday night’s trip to First Avenue to see Twin Shadow perform was the perfect opportunity to crash the 112 Eatery, a restaurant that had eluded us for months and sat close by. We did it, all right. I chomped down the City Pages’ number-five cheeseburger and my wife forked a veal tongue and some pasta. We doubled-up on bread and made our waiter uncomfortable.
When the smoke cleared, however, we were a house divided. While the experience left me underwhelmed but wanting a re-do, my wife doesn’t do re-dos. Her brickbat of the 112 Eatery was final.
The Basics: This Isaac Becker product sits between First and Second Ave on Third St, dangling on the precipice of Interstate 394. Similar to sisteraunt Bar La Grassa, they don’t open until 5 p.m. but serve until 1 a.m. At first, we thought we’d be stopping in after the show, precipitating the oddity of an 11:30 p.m. reservation. Also like BLG, 112 posts their restaurant playlist on the website.
The list features such artists as Be Your Own Pet, Spaghetti Western String Co., and The Circle Jerks – one of whose tracks is titled, “World Up My Ass.”
The brightly-lit entry and dusky dining space of 112 played with my eyes a little at first, but they adjusted quickly. The restaurant is tight; seating is just spacious enough and walkways just wide enough. Space is maximized well, though, and a mirror along the north wall helps “give” it a little size. Something I haven’t seen at a restaurant before is lighting that dims to match the outside sky (or least it seemed that way). We were led by our hostess to a booth just outside the staff hub.
Any Big Bang Theory fans out there? Our server had Sheldon’s wiry build and Leonard’s mussy hair and duck voice. He wasn’t your average hipster; I liked his knit tie, and he treated my compliment like a compliment. You really don’t see that anymore. Service was a liiiiittle slow, but defensibly so considering the packed house. Aisles too narrow for more than one person to pass was another possible contributor.
The tap selection is limited at 112 but covers the spectrum well and the prices are good. I read “Back in Black” on the menu and dove in. Stout, woohoo! Read the rest, you idiot: “Back in Black … Black IPA, 21st Amendment Brewery.” Oops. But, it proved a worthy beer.
On the plates, I ended the wait for the 112 Cheeseburger. My wife ordered veal tongue with cold soba noodles. Bread was served upon request while the entrees came, and 112 seemed to have an easy victory locked up when it passed “the bread test.” After roughly 15 minutes and two suggestive conversations with the waiter leaning in, the food arrived.
The 112 Cheeseburger sat on my plate, confused as I was to its very existence. The muffin bun housed the beef patty almost precisely and a hint glimmer of grease sparkled from beneath its top. The Brie cheese was fascinating, laid on in blocky strips rather than the wimpy slice most diners provide. From the start, this darling appeared to be missing something.
Frank, where’s the picture? I wish I had one, but my phone’s battery was gagging. I would have fed it some water, but it had no keyboard to pour it into. Here’s a picture somebody else took of theirs.
Was it worth the wait? I lifted it and bit in. It was … good? First, let me say brie cheese bricks have my permission to be on anything. They were thicker than the mats I took naps on in Kindergarten, and added an artful dimension to the burger. Past the cheese, though, the 112 Cheeseburger was about as artful as a drunken bicycle ride.
I can’t explain it. It was greasier than it should have been, and mushy. The plan was to split the dishes, but my wife quit after two bites of it. Should I have not ordered it medium rare? It was soggy like a Helicopter Burger, but without the egg yolk landmines and self-tug-o-war games for ham fat. What I’m saying is, if a cheeseburger isn’t going to be elegant, it needs to be fun to eat. It wasn’t that much fun, and it wasn’t that elegant. It was a cheeseburger trapped between dimensions.
My wife enjoyed the small piece of veal tongue, but she was put off by the temperature of the dish. Expecting cold noodles and a warm veal tongue, what she got were both components at a common lukewarmth. I tried it and liked it, but I prefer warm noodles. Forty bucks covered tax, tip, and the bill.
I’d like to return for a definitive read on the cheeseburger or perhaps to try the sirloin and ponzu. Also lurking on the menu is a bacon, egg, and harissa sandwich named the best sammie in the Twin Cities. I’d like to get my jaws down on that someday, too. It’s going to be tough, though. Quick head math would tell me 40 percent of my sit-down meals have my wife on the other side of the table, and I’m sure anybody can tell you how difficult it can be to get someplace your spouse would rather not go.
Either I won’t or she will. I guess we’ll just have to see.