Funky Grits is a new diner concept that combines the best of soul food and funk. Jared Brewington and Chef Benedict Frank plan to ease into things by hosting pop ups around the Twin Cities until they’re ready to open a brick and mortar. Their first pop up took place at Hazel’s Northeast, and guests could choose between a 5-course meal featuring meat, or a 5-course vegan meal. My friend Heather from Root to Rise (which is currently proceeding in a similar manner) invited me along, and we had a wonderful night of conversation and delicious plant-based food.
It all started with this lovely Hoppin’ John Slider: Carolina gold rice & red pea patty, crispy shallots, curry aioli and bibb lettuce. The patty had some crispness on the outside and was soft on the inside, so basically just right. I loved the curry aioli, and all the flavors came together nicely.
The second course was called the Skinny Love Salad, and it was beautiful. It included baby kale, quinoa, roasted sweet potato, apricot, almonds and orange vanilla vinaigrette. The quinoa was difficult to eat with a fork, and the sweet potato didn’t really add anything to the dish, but the vinaigrette was quite divine, and the almonds added the perfect bit of crunch.
The Havana Sol was comprised of mojo de ajo (garlic sauce), black beans, Carolina gold rice, seared tempeh, plantains and avocado. The sauce was perfect for the tempeh, but the plantains felt a little out of place. Bring on the avocado, though – it makes everything better!
Course Four found us another salad, but I much preferred this one to the first. They named it Purple Reign and featured beets with the almond-based feta from The Herbivorous Butcher. What an amazing combo! I don’t really enjoy beets on their own, but the additional texture and saltiness of the feta made them divine. The dish also had arugula, baby kale, shallot confit, sorghum popcorn, and a citrus vinaigrette.
We rounded out the meal with my most anticipated course: dessert! When they sat us, I honed right in on it when they gave us the menu. They executed the Flourless Chocolate Mud Pie with Bourbon Chocolate Sauce perfectly. It was light, wasn’t overly sweet, and was just the right serving size. If this was the only dessert I ate for the rest of my life, I would be happy.
Funky Grits has another pop up on September 5th, a Labor Day Brunch. Aside from a vegan cheese board from The Herbivorous Butcher, they’re including the same dishes above (Hoppin’ John Sliders, Havana Sol and Flourless Chocolate Pie), so I can readily recommend it! Click here to purchase tickets. Also, feel free to “like” Funky Grits on Facebook and follow them on Instagram so you don’t miss out on the pop up announcements!
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