Mourning Pie & Hot Wings [Dark Horse Bar and Eatery]

I love my home state of Minnesota. I miss Minnesota. But gosh darn was it nice to step out of the car into 65 degrees and sunny St. Louis. We’ll be back soon, though, and this time there will be snow.

This past week, we made a short trip to the Twin Cities to attend our relative’s funeral. Burrell wasn’t our grandma but she’s been like our grandma for the past seven years. We celebrated her 100th birthday last spring. Even until her later years, Burrell kept her wits about her and remained sharp as a whip. Her hearing never declined either, and she’d often holler her reply from another room if someone was whispering about her. Burrell was a very loving person and, in turn, many people loved her.

She’s my inspiration to pursue balance in life. To strive for a better attitude, seek fresh air and move my body a lot. To keep on enjoying my morning coffee, pats of butter here and there, and a glass of wine in the evenings. At the funeral, her daughter shared a beautiful letter. The part that really stuck with me summarizes the lessons Burrell demonstrated to her loved ones: Be courageous. Be kind. Be hopeful. Be curious.

While we were home, we also celebrated birthdays with Jake’s family at Dark Horse, a new restaurant in the Lowertown area of St. Paul, Minnesota.

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The menu is really eclectic and draws from many flavor profiles, from Thai to Ethiopian cuisines. Our friendly server guided me to one of her favorite whiskeys before we shared several appetizers. While my dining party’s opinions about their dishes ranged, we shared a unanimous enthusiasm for the wings. The menu mentions they’re seasoned with berbere and their special Dark Horse Sauce.

One half of our group requested mild wings while the rest of us devoured the hot. They were really, truly hot; the hottest, most delicious food I’ve eaten since we visited this Thai restaurant on Lake of the Ozarks. My lips burned long after the last wing was gone. Besides the heat and flavor, the wings were large with crisp, rendered skin and tender meat. I haven’t met a better hot wing. They arrived with a light, creamy sauce that everyone wanted more of.

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Top: Dark Horse Wing + sauce. Bottom: Posole with egg and pork + tostada. Pleasantly spicy, very tart.

Laughter over whiskey, mourning over pie. Reverse or juxtapose or repeat. Run it out, talk it out, and sweat it out over heart-achingly spicy food. That’s what I do, at least.


  1. Feisty Eats

    Burrell sounds like a wonderful woman. My sympathies.

    • Jeni

      Thank you so much!

  2. Katie

    Sorry for your loss, but man a good meal can help ease a troubled heart. I haven’t gotten to Dark Horse yet, but I hope to soon!

    • Jeni

      Well said:) I know they are very new. We were happiest with the wings, pork dumplings and elk burger. Mixed reviews on the bowls, but maybe they’ll have worked out any kinks by then.

  3. Michelle

    So sorry for your loss. Burrell sounds like a wonderful woman. Thanks for the tip about the restaurant. I hope to get there soon!

    • Jeni

      Thanks Michelle. It’s a really fun place to visit. The Elk burger was our second favorite item.

  4. Beth Ann Chiles

    I know how much you loved Burrell and how big of an influence she was in your life. I love her words from her letter and think that that is very good advice. The food looks lovely and even though the spicy would kill me I love that you got the perfect meal. Food really does help with the grief process.

    • Jeni

      Funerals are emotionally tough, but it seems like a lot of healing and remembrance takes place over meals. I know we’ve experienced that together in North Iowa, too.

  5. Katy F.

    Hugs to you! Glad you got great time with family though!

  6. Donna Hup

    Burrell sounds like she was amazing. I’m so sorry for your loss. Those wings sound like they’re right up my alley! I love hot wings!

    • Jeni

      Thanks Donna. I know you can take the heat, too!

  7. Mary

    Man I love this: “To strive for a better attitude, seek fresh air and move my body a lot.” My new motto.

    • Jeni

      Thanks Mary! Loved your last recipe for the butterscotch mix.

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