A new restaurant popped up earlier this year in the 50th and France area of the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, a gourmet burger, eclectic beer and wine bar by the name of Red Cow. I had read something about it when I was up in the Twin Cities earlier this year and decided to drive over to the area to check the place out for dinner one night.
Red Cow opened in February of this year in an old video rental location on 50th Street. (see map) The owner, Luke Shimp, was a minority owner and the C.F.O. for Blue Plate Restaurant Company that oversees the day-to-day operations of such restaurants as the Edina Grill, Groveland Tap, Longfellow Grill, and the somewhat new restaurant in the Uptown area of Minneapolis, The Lowry. Shimp's sister, Stephanie, and a former co-worker of hers, David Burley, started out in 1993 with the opening of the Highland Grill and have used the neighborhood bar and grill blueprint for the restaurants under the Blue Plate banner.
Luke Shimp left the company in 2012 to pursue an opportunity to open his own neighborhood joint. Wanting his first restaurant to be in an established neighborhood, he found an old Blockbuster video store location about two blocks to the east of France at the corner of 50th and Drew Ave. (Pictured right - Luke Shimp. Photo courtesy Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.)
There is a small parking lot in front of the building that houses Red Cow on 50th Street. Initial reviews of the place have been positive - so positive that it's usually packed by 5:30 p.m. - and the parking lot is perpetually full. After driving by the Red Cow, I noticed that there was a couple getting into their car that was parked right in front. I drove around the block and when I came back, the car was moving out of the parking spot and I whipped right in and took it.
Like I said, Red Cow has been a major hit in the short time it has been in business and fills up quickly in the early evening hours. The night I was there was no exception. The cool and damp early Summer night didn't deter people from venturing out to the Red Cow and there were a number of people waiting for tables in the dining area off to the right or for a table in the bar area. I spied an open seat at the bar and made my way over there. I asked a guy next to the open spot if the seat was taken and he said, "Nope! It's yours now."
The bar area featured a long bar that jutted out on one end. A number of high-top tables were in the middle of the room with some banquette seats along the wall with tables on the side. They're certainly serious about their beer at Red Cow and their beer menu boasts three dozen varieties on tap and a nearly like number of beers available by bottle or can. (Picture at left - courtesy TripAdvisor.com)
Being that it was very busy, the three bartenders were furiously trying to keep up with the orders coming in. But one of them - Shar - took the time to stop and greet me. She asked if I wanted a beer and a menu. I had been scouting out the tappers along the wall and I saw that they had the Bell's Two Hearted pale ale on tap. I ordered one of those as she handed me a menu.
Red Cow has well over a dozen eclectic burgers to choose from on their burger menu. In addition to regular Black Angus burgers, they also had burgers made from bison, elk, turkey, salmon, lamb and one with duck with wild rice. I noticed that they had a breakfast burger that was an angus burger topped with a fried egg, bacon and cheddar, but it was also topped with peanut butter. Ugh! Sorry, I can't handle peanut butter on anything warm. (My wife will attest to my dislike for the smell of peanut butter on toast.) I know I could have gotten it without the peanut butter, but there were other burgers catching my eye.
The Barcelona burger was topped with prosciutto, roasted sweet piquillo peppers and topped with manchego cheese and smoked garlic aioli. That sounded really interesting. The Manhattan featured ground Black Angus beef direct from Pat LaFrieda, a butcher house that has been providing prime beef to steakhouses and restaurants around New York City for over 90 years. But what I ended up ordering was the Mushroom-Swiss cheese burger, medium. I asked Char if I could get a couple strips of bacon on it and she said it would be no problem. She asked if I wanted any hand-cut or parmesan-truffle French fries and I ordered up the regular hand cut.
The guy next to me was having the fish tacos that they had on their "Sandwiches and More" part of their menu. And they looked really good. Another thing that caught my attention on the sandwich part of the menu was the Grinder - Genoa salami, capicola and pastrami topped with gruyere cheese, giardinara and a pepper aioli sauce on a soft hoagie bun. That REALLY sounded good. Those were two things that I figured I could try on subsequent visits if this visit worked out to my liking.
In addition to the burgers and the sandwiches, Red Cow also features salads and homemade soups, and an appetizer list they call "Shareables" that feature chicken wings, sweet potato fries, beer-steamed mussels, and something called "Ahi Chips" that featured seared ahi tuna, a Japanese ponzu sauce, avocado and a pepper aioli served on crisps.
Just as I ordered another Two Hearted pale ale from Shar, another server brought out my plate with the mushroom/Swiss cheese burger with a couple small strips of bacon on top. Nothing else came on the burger - no ketchup (although there was ketchup in a small metal container on the plate, probably for the fries), no mustard, nothing else other than the sauteed mushroom slices hidden under the melted Swiss cheese wit the bacon laying on top of the cheese.
I had ordered my burger "medium" and I found it to be flavorful and juicy with just a hint of pink in the middle - the way I like my burgers. The overall taste of the burger was very good. I liked the bun - it was light and not overpowering and it had a nice grilled bun taste to it. It held together well as I ate the burger.
The fries were all right - they were crispy on the outside with a nice potato taste. But I was more interested in trying to finish the hefty-weighted black angus burger with a lot of taste sensations going on. The mushrooms were definitely fresh and had a great sauteed taste to them. All in all, it was a very good burger.
There's a lot of places to eat around the 50th and France area and Red Cow is a welcome addition to the scenery. From the taste and quality of my burger alone, it's no wonder the place has been packed since it opened earlier this year. Parking can be a minor pain in the ass, but it's only a short walk from a public parking garage just to the west of France on 50th. Red Cow is more than just a burger joint and I'm looking forward to trying either the fish tacos or the grinder sandwich on my next visit. (Photo at left courtesy of Blogs at City Pages.com)