Steak Spaulding topped with crab cake and béarnaise sauce. Photos by Mike Hnida
It’s hard to believe summer is already winding down, but happily there’s still plenty of quality patio time yet to be had. Even in the midst of our new, masked and socially-distanced normal.
This new normal also includes an increasingly volatile restaurant landscape that has seen long-lived dining institutions disappear with nothing more than a Facebook post. Which makes our visits to those still with us even more important. Thankfully, there are still plenty of Twin Cities favorites to support. J.D. Hoyt’s is one of those favorites.
Celebrating 35 years of supper club style and substance, J.D. Hoyt’s is an iconic piece of real estate, both in our hearts (ok, stomachs) and along Washington Avenue in the North Loop. Like every restaurant in this moment, they’ve had to make adjustments to their schedule and menus. The good news is they’re still serving up the same award-winning flavors and atmosphere as they did in 1985—when they first opened their doors.
I got the chance to eat my way across the menu one late August Friday evening with a friend. We grabbed a table on the patio with a beautiful view of downtown as our backdrop. Having spent much of the summer in my own backyard, it felt wonderful to get out, relax and enjoy some great food.
Our supper club saunter began with J.D. Hoyt’s famous garlic cheese toast. What more do you want right now than the warm embrace of freshly-baked bread, slathered in garlic butter, festooned with three cheeses and toasted until bubbly?
It might surprise you, but the most popular item on the menu isn’t a steak. It’s a decadent, unique comfort food creation combining all of your favorite things. All of the things you want in your mouth, that is. J.D. Hoyt’s world famous buddy bowl is an epic marriage of red beans, dirty rice and homemade creole sauce, covered with a layer of gooey melted cheese. The entire dish is then baked to perfection and topped with your choice of broiled seafood. It’s a meal in itself. More like two meals.
The buddy bowl is fabulous, but let’s be honest. You come to J.D. Hoyt’s, as I did, because you want that old school supper club experience. And by supper club experience, I mean expertly cooked steaks, chops, and ribs—piled high on your plate.
The table favorite by far was J.D.’s chop and rib combo. The thick-cut, cajun-seasoned pork chop is grilled to perfection; crispy on the outside, juicy and full of flavor on the inside. The slow-cooked ribs, finished on the grill are smothered in tangy BBQ sauce. They fell off the bone right into our eager mouths.
If steak is more your style, I highly recommend the Spaulding. A melt-in-your-mouth filet topped with an equally luxurious béarnaise-kissed crab cake. The tender asparagus and pan-fried hash browns are a delightful afterthought.
The array of sides can seem overwhelming, but fret not. As long as you welcome the cajun cream pasta to your table, you’re golden. I say golden, because I’m assuming you’re not sharing. If you’re sharing, order two.
In addition to delicious food, a telling of J.D. Hoyt’s tale wouldn’t be complete without celebrating their staff. You don’t stay in business beyond three decades without a team that knows how to take care of its guests. Which is exactly what they did that late night in August on the patio, as the sun set over downtown.
A supper club might seem a quaint novelty in any other moment, but in 2020 J.D. Hoyt’s is a reassuring connection to a time we hope is as much a part of our future as it was our past.