I feel like I’m pretty late to the game on 4 Bells. I’ve seen people raving about the food, particularly the fried chicken, for months. Maybe I should have waited a year to do “4 BELLS REVISTED?”
At any rate, I found myself there on a warm but pleasant Minneapolis evening and made a beeline for the rooftop.
Just like the beer garden at their sister restaurant, Butcher and the Boar, the menu for the rooftop differs from the full menu inside. Since the rooftop is also all season, this is no problem and might actually be preferable to sitting inside.
I started out with an order of Boiled Peanut Hummus. It is delightful, and I will definitely go back to get this for an after-work snack. The hummus itself is salty and only mildly peanutty, but what made it for me was the generous drizzle of olive oil. The ratio of hummus to dippers manages to be exactly right. The vegetables are fresh, crispy, and cut generously, but the thing that really stood out though was the house made cheese crackers. These are like sophisticated Cheeze-Its, and it was a little hard to be civil about splitting them up with my companion.
But you and I both know that I came for the fried chicken. I love that fried chicken is having a moment in the Twin Cities right now, and as far as I’m concerned that trend can continue indefinitely. The problem, if you can call it that, is that Revival is a place that exists. Revival has set the bar too high for everyone else, and finding fried chicken as good is nigh unattainable.
This is not to say that 4 Bells doesn’t try and try hard. This chicken is great. The skin is crispy and salty, the meat is moist and savory. It’s just not AS crisp or AS savory or, frankly, as interesting. 4 Bells tries to remedy that fact by providing you with condiments.
I feel very strongly about condiments.
These particular condiments are “Dixie sauce,” watermelon hot sauce, and lavender honey butter. “Dixie sauce” is 4 Bells version of the somewhat (in)famous Raising Cane’s sauce, which is some kind of ketchup/mayonnaise/Worcester mash up. To be honest, it does not do it for me in any iteration. 4 Bells is no exception. It’s tangy and sweet, but I always feel like these kinds of sauces are missing something. My companion loved it though, so it went over to his plate so he could dip his fries in it.
The watermelon hot sauce was very peppery, but not all that hot. After three or four bites, you could taste the watermelon in the background. As far as hot sauces go, this was fine.
My favorite by a landslide was the lavender honey butter. I would eat that on basically anything. Sometimes it can be difficult to balance floral flavors so they don’t come off too heavy or too soft. This was spot on. The lavender contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the honey butter, and it was all tied together by flake salt on top. Did I feel gluttonous eating butter on top of fried chicken? Absolutely. Does that actually bother me? No, not at all.
Ultimately, 4 Bells lives up to its reputation and the reputation of Butcher and the Boar before it. I look forward to going back to the rooftop soon–maybe for brunch next time!