By Kathy Henderson
Herbst Eatery & Farm Stand opened last May in South St. Anthony Park to glowing local media food reviews and positive social media postings praising its food and décor – reviews and postings that still keep coming, months into the Raymond Avenue restaurant’s operation. The Star Tribune even highlighted its cornbread ice cream as one of the “five best things our Taste team ate this week.”
As the word herbst translates from German to “autumn” or “fall,” a cool fall morning seemed like the perfect time for Park Bugle readers to catch up with Herbst co-owners Angie and Jörg Pierach, who are South St Anthony Park residents, along with executive chef Eric Simpson, as they reflect on their first summer at Herbst and what’s being planned for the upcoming harvest season.
Looking back to May, they are still delighted that the positive news reviews and social media postings, which started almost as soon as the doors opened, changed their anticipated soft opening into a grateful adjustment to becoming almost instantly a popular venue for neighborhood residents and destination diners. One of their favorite comments still comes from the voices of diners who leave Herbst saying, “We’ll be back!”
“We really needed to hear that — ‘We’ll be back!’ or ‘Love it!’ or ‘Thank you’ or ‘Amazing!’ — because it showed that we are doing something right,” said first-time restaurateur Angie Pierach (husband Jörg is the co-founder and co-owner of Tilia, Minneapolis).
Gratitude is of equal importance to Jörg, who notes not only their appreciation of diners who have a great experience and return with family and friends, but also of the group of farmers from Dover Producers who supply the ingredients and of all who work at Herbst. That includes the Pierach children, who were on site from time to time during their summer vacation. As Angie enthusiastically describes, “an incredible staff … team effort every day.”
While they didn’t have the anticipated soft launch, they were able to take their time expanding into the patio dining area, which opened in mid-July. “Open-and-close, open-and-close,” Angie noted with a touch of humor, describing the need to adjust the patio operation according to heat waves and record-breaking summer weather.
Tucked behind the restaurant, the secluded patio area offers a retreat from busy Raymond Avenue traffic, yet manages to keep the city vibe — traffic noise may vanish, but the train whistle can still be heard. It is expected that the patio will remain open through October, maybe even beyond, perhaps doing a reverse open-and-close routine depending on those changeable fall weather days.
The fall will bring changes to what was a summertime menu, but Jörg promises that some things will remain the same, including that much of the ingredients will continue to come “right from the farm and into the hands of creative people like Eric.”
Chef Eric Simpson explained that expressions such as “farm-to-table” and “locally sourced meals,” which may have once seemed like noble goals for the restaurant industry, are fading out as not realistic. Consider coffee and citrus, for example. Instead, he thinks in terms of personally knowing the sources of the majority of the ingredients he uses.
Herbst’s hallmark staples — organic produce, honey, maple syrup, butter, cheese, eggs and meat – do indeed originate locally, arriving daily via their partnership with western Wisconsin-based Dover Producers. But there are exceptions. One example is that Simpson looks to Italy and France for the truffles necessary for a “beautiful, decant sauce” for a specialty dish anticipated for the fall menu.
There’s no doubt that Herbst is a chef-driven restaurant, and Simpson’s fall menu items sound innovative and delicious; however, as the summer menu fades away, the Park Bugle is not giving away any upcoming menu secrets. But be assured that even though it is fall, there’ll be far more variety than potatoes and root vegetables featured on the Herbst menu. And look for Herbst own chef-produced Farm Stand canned goods and jams on market shelves.
In addition, Herbst customer favorites — such as its fanciful flavored small batch ice cream and its Friday and Saturday late-night guest DJs (a partnering with Barely Bros, the next door record store) — will continue into the fall.
Watch the Herbst website herbstsaintpaul.com for current menu selections and the opening of its fall brunch service.
Kathy Henderson lives is a freelance writer for the Bugle.