Readers: Win The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food
The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding a copy of The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food to the best tipster of March and April. The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has a nationally renowned bike culture (Bicycling Magazine named Minneapolis its #1 Bike City in 2011, the praises of Minnesota’s “bike economy” have been sung, and so forth) but that hasn’t yet really translated to bike-powered food culture.
Emphasis on “yet.” Two new enterprises are seeking to tap into Minnesota’s love of two-wheeled transport and craft food in very different ways.
Wheelhouse is still in the Kickstarter funding phase of its launch, but its progress thus far suggests that it’s tapping into a very real and underserved market. Wheelhouse aims to serve healthy and substantial food to bikers (and runners) attending events around the state. “We’ve only launched the Kickstarter for a little over a week now and we’re booked at 10 events with no marketing,” says Wheelhouse co-founder and biker Andy Lageson. “We’re shooting for the first summer, probably about 50 events.” He sees the venture as filling a void.
“There’s nowhere to hang out and there’s no food options [at these events]” says Lageson. “You’re often just way out in the middle of nowhere in the country. Sometimes you’re rushing from work on a work night and you don’t have time to eat, so we decided, let’s get some food out there.”
Lageson’s partners are Max Becker (whose experience doing a Kickstarter for his band Lovely Dark served as a template for the Wheelhouse push) and former Hell’s Kitchen chef Joe Wuestenhagen. The Wheelhouse plan is to use Joe’s culinary knowledge to provide three broad categories of eats at various cycling and athletic events around the state.
“Part of it’ll be lighter stuff for people racing — simple proteins and carbs that’s light so you can actually eat it 30 minutes before you race, and it’ll get you through,” says Lageson. “We’ll have snacks for spectators, stuff like olive oil and curry sauteed mix nuts, and handmade jerkies, and stuff like that. And there’ll be an after-race component, like pulled pork sandwiches and more substantial food. Curry hotdishes, potato salads … stuff like that.”
“We’re trying to do everything as green as possible. It’ll be pop-up kitchen style. It’ll all be done on an event catering license. Our infrastructure will be pop-up tents. We won’t be using generators — we’ve got a rechargeable car-battery powered system with power converters that will run all the warmers and heaters.”
Brake Bread puts bread on wheels
Wheelhouse will bring bread (metaphorically) to bikers; Brake Bread uses bikes to bring bread (literally) to its customers. The baking company / delivery service uses a subscription model to bring bread to nearly 50 customers in a limited delivery zone along St. Paul’s West 7th St. corridor, charging $18 a month for four loaves of bread, one delivered each Wednesday.
Break Bread is the brainchild of friends Nate Houge and Micah Taylor. The business, says Taylor, is “a nice extension of slowing down and connecting with neighbors. One of my favorite parts of the business is when I get to hand a loaf to someone when they’re home.”
“One of the things that frames all of this is looking at limitation and sustainability,” says Houge. “It works really well to deliver within our neighborhood here in St. Paul along the West 7th corridor, and to do a subscription service where you know how much to bake for each round. And it worked to do it on bicycles to keep it local that way.”
The company offers two kinds of bread on an alternating biweekly basis: a rustic white bread called Single Speed and a whole wheat sunflower seed oatmeal bread called Granny Gear. A rye sourdough and a natural leavened bread are both on the near horizon for the company, which is also exploring using drop points (like bikeshops) to reach into neighborhoods like Highland Park and deeper into St. Paul proper.
In the meantime, Houge and Taylor are using goggles and studded tires to ride out the remaining shreds of winter, and enjoying the fun of bringing bread to customers’ doors. “So many times you knock on the door, the door opens, and there are these big smiles,” says Houge. “‘The bread guys are here! The bread guys are here!’ My second trial run, I can just remember this woman opened the door and she was clapping her hands and jumping. When does that happen? I’ve never had a job where people will jump and clap … well, that’s not true. I used to teach pre-school, and they would jump and clap.”
- La Fresca, 4750 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis
- Burning Brothers Brewery, 1750 Thomas Ave, St. Paul
- Red Lantern Sushi, 2125 4th St., White Bear Lake
- Makers Cafe, 4920 W 77th St. Edina, MN
- Kyatchi, 3758 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis
- Mango Factory, 233 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis
- Little Szechuan Stadium Village, 304 Oak St SE, Minneapolis
- Travail and The Rookery, Robbinsdale
- Tracy’s Saloon and Eatery | Reopened after renovation
- The Salad Bar, 40 S 7th St (Skyway level), Minneapolis
- Coup d’état, 2923 Girard Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review.
- Day Block Brewing Company, 1105 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis
- Patrick’s Bakery, I-94 & Hemlock Ln, Maple Grove, MN | Our review.
CLOSED / CLOSING:
- Sunsets Wayzata
- Chez Arnaud (White Bear Lake)
- Singapore, 5554 34th Ave S, Minneapolis
- Birchwood Cafe | Closed for renovation, reopening late spring.
- La Chaya Bistro, 4537 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis
- Serlin’s Cafe, 1124 Payne Ave, St. Paul
- Sally’s Saloon and Eatery, 712 Washington Ave SE | Closed for remodeling until summer 2014.
- Buster’s on 28th, 4204 S 28th Ave, Minneapolis | Temporary closure due to mid-2013 fire; unclear when reopening will take place
- Kyoto Sushi (new location), in former Tiger Sushi spot at Lyn-Lake | Spring 2014
- Hola Arepa (bricks and mortar), South Minneapolis | Early May
- Lago Tacos, old Heidi’s location, Minneapolis
- Corner Table projects: relocation to old La Chaya Bistro space and opening of mid-South / fried chicken restaurant | Spring 2014
- Aki’s Bread Haus, 2506 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Late April at earliest
- Hen House, 114 S 8th St (old Peter’s Grill location), Minneapolis | Spring 2014
- Bent Arrow, 5416 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis
- Lyn 65 Kitchen and Bar, 6439 Lyndale Ave, Richfield | Late March / Early April
- Betty Danger’s Country Club, 2519 Marshall St, Minneapolis | Opening date unknown
- Russell and Desta Klein projects: Brasserie Zentral, Cafe Zentral, Foreign Legion wine bar, wine shop to be named, Soo Line Building | 2014
- Heyday, 2702 Lyndale Ave, Minneapolis | Opens April 2014
- Ling & Louie’s Kitchen, 9th St and Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
- The Nicollet Diner, 1428 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Late Spring 2014
- Tiny Diner, 1014 E 38th St, Minneapolis | 612.822.6302
- Unnamed Gastrotruck restaurant, 2400 University Ave NE, Minneapolis | Opens 2013
- Saint Dinette, Lowertown, St. Paul | Opens April
- Urban Growler Brewing Company 2325 Endicott St | Opens spring 2014
Greater Twin Cities Area
- Lolo American Kitchen | March 2014
- Peace Coffee Coffee Bar, Lakewinds Coop, Richfield, MN | June 2014
- Victor’s, 205 Water St, Excelsior, MN | Spring 2014
- Maple Island Brewing Co., Stillwater, MN | May 2014
- LTD (Live the Dream) Brewing, 812 Mainstreet, Hopkins, MN | March 2014
- Castle Danger Brewery, Two Harbors brewery expansion and taproom | 2014
- Jordan Brewery, Jordan, MN | Spring 2014
- Tin Whiskers Brewing Co., St. Paul | Opens 2014
The Tap is the Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled and published biweekly by the Heavy Table. If you have tips for The Tap, please email James Norton at email@example.com.
Readers: Win The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food
The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding a copy of “The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food” to the best tipster of March and April. The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jewish holidays share a common pattern: They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat. (That’s not my joke. Feel free to share it as you please.)
Purim is just a little bit different: They tried to kill us. We won. We extracted vicious revenge. Let’s drink. In fact, let’s drink until we can’t tell the good guy (Mordechai) from the bad guy (Haman — cue raucous booing and groggers to drown out his name).
When you get to the “Let’s eat” portion of a Jewish holiday, there’s usually something substantial involved: Passover has its matzoh balls, Hanukkah has its latkes and Shavuot has its cheese blintzes. Purim, however, to soak up all that alcohol you’re commanded to drink, has cookies. Just cookies — hamantaschen, or Haman’s hats. (More raucous booing.) Eating our enemy’s very hat is just more vicious, delicious revenge, extracted millennia later in kitchens and in synagogue social halls every year.
The sisterhood organizations at most area synagogues probably spent last weekend baking up a storm to prepare for the start of Purim on March 14. You can also buy them at a handful of bakeries around town. But kvetching about how the hamantaschen you find around here just aren’t as good as — fill in the blank: those in New York City, those in Montreal, those your bubbe used to make, the ones you used to be able to find two decades ago or, inevitably, Fishmans’ — that’s as much a tradition as downing a glass or three after the purimschpiel.
But, before we join in the kvetching, a little primer: hamantaschen (the singular is hamantasch but, seriously, nobody ever says, “One hamantasch, please”) are triangular cookies with various fillings — poppy seeds, apricot, and prune are canonical; chocolate, almond, cherry, blueberry, and the like are acceptable. The New York Times may try to tell you that you can make them savory. The New York Times is playing with fire.
You can close up the triangles completely. You can leave a little hole at the top so the filling is visible. You can make them thin and flat. You can make them tall and substantial. Either way, someone will tell you you’re doing it wrong.
With its up-at-the-lake decor and laid-back vibe, the Red Stag Supperclub is an ideal setting for a Friday Night Fish Fry in the secular “Lenten” tradition of the Upper Midwest. Thus, at the start of every weekend, Twin Cities folks can head up north(east) to get in on the action. After working our way through the special menu — served in addition to the restaurant’s usual full menu — we can report that about half of the offerings live up to the nostalgic setting.
By far, our favorite dish of the night was the smelt fries ($8, below). The large portion of freshly fried whole smelt was addictive — we ate the entire plate and could have (and would have) kept chowing down if another helping found its way to our table. The batter-to-fish ratio was spot on, just enough to add extra crunch to the rich-yet-mild flavor of the smelt. Bright sweet onion tartar sauce was a great complement.
While we enjoyed the other punchy condiment, the smoked tomato ketchup was a little strong for the fish. Our only suggestion is that the smelt could be crispier; some were a tad floppy for our liking. Nevertheless, we’ll definitely return for smelt fries and beer, an excellent combo for winding down a long workweek.
We also enjoyed the fish and chips. We went with bluegill ($13 for 5oz, $18 for 10oz, below) rather than cod or walleye, which proved wise. The fish was moist and the perfect size for eating with our hands. Lemon and tartar sauce added acidity and sweetness, and the nicely fried exterior offered pleasant crunch. The batter-to-fish ratio again was on point, and the dish wasn’t the least bit greasy. The fish basket comes with either Red Stag’s awesomely giant and flavorful potato chips or house-cut fries, both of which do well in supporting roles. But the red cabbage coleslaw was dreadful. As one of our diners put it, the flavorless, lukewarm salad seemed “old and sad.”
Since we were in the market for fried fish, we nearly skipped the mussels ($12). As borderline mussels fanatics, though, we couldn’t resist. The shellfish was fresh and juicy, but the sauce (white wine, garlic butter, basil, and white onion) was watery and mild. We didn’t taste the basil, and the garlic was only slightly more noticeable.
The presentation of the crab cakes ($12) was simple and attractive, and their accompaniments — a light-roasted red bell pepper sauce and fresh micro-greens — were excellent.
However, the cakes, consisting mostly of potato and shreds of shellfish, were disappointing. As if baked rather than fried, they lacked crunch. The thick, almost pasty cakes may be an ode to the standard German-Wisconsin tradition of serving potato pancakes at fish fries, but once you call something a crab cake, we figure it should taste like crab.
Red Stag Supperclub
Supperclub in Northeast, Minneapolis
509 1st Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
OWNERS: Kari and Kim Bartmann
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Yes
ENTREE RANGE: $8-$48
Nothing can make harsh, cold weather more bearable than the comforting textures and flavors of slow-cooked meats and vegetables. Chef Alex Roberts and his team at Restaurant Alma are currently preparing a wonderfully delicious gnocchi with black kale, turnips, and locally raised Shepherd Song lamb (above). Try the succulent, complex flavor of braised Shepherd Song lamb and many other wonderful local products as part of a three course dining experience at Alma tonight.
Restaurant Alma opened in 1999 and specializes in serving a seasonal multi-course menu in a casual, hospitality driven environment. The cooking is eclectic in style and handcrafted using fresh, organic, and local ingredients. Alma is currently rated #1 in the Twin Cities on Open Table for food and recently earned Zagat’s 2014 #1 overall restaurant ranking among all Twin Cities restaurants. Restaurant Alma is open for dinner seven days a week starting at 5pm. Shepherd Song, a local farm provider, raises 100% grass-fed lamb and goat meat and is located near Menomonie, WI. Visit them online and use coupon code lamb15 for a 15% discount on premium lamb and goat products.
The only fish fry guide you’ll need to get you through Lent. A profile of Burning Brothers and their gluten-free beer. A sneak peek at Prairie Dogs (the restaurant; pictured above; here’s our review of their pop-up restaurant). Some new dining options in the skyways. And the Hot Indian food truck makes the leap to food kiosk at Midtown Global Market.