A Boost to Birchwood’s Kickstarter Is a Boon to Our Tastebuds

Mette Nielsen

This post is sponsored by the Birchwood Cafe.

The Birchwood Cafe recently celebrated its 18th anniversary with the announcement of a $100,000 Kickstarter campaign to renovate the Seward neighborhood eatery. Literally bursting at the seams (regulars know what it’s like to brave the weekend brunch lines and the annoyance of only one bathroom), the cafe is reaching out to the community to help expand and remodel their current location.

In an amazing show of support and goodwill, an impressive array of local chefs will partner with Birchwood chef Marshall Paulsen to create multicourse dinners as delicious perks for Kickstarter backers. Great names like Steven Brown, Vincent Francoual, JD Fratzke, Michele Gayer, Jorge Guzman, Joe Hatch-Surisook, Mike Phillips, Alex Roberts, Lenny Russo, J.P. Samuelson, and Lucia Watson will each collaborate with Paulsen for intimate evenings in what will be the new Community Room at the renovated Birchwood.

Mette Nielsen

Beyond the perks, Kickstarter funds will help the Birchwood serve more fresh, local food like their Savory Waffle (above) — a light, crispy waffle topped this month with apple shallot compote and honey pepita butter, along with bacon lardons and a sunny-side-up egg (you’ll be able to order this one all day — that’s right, Savory Waffles for dinner!). They’ll also be able to serve their grass-fed beef burger — currently topped with braised kale, melted parmesan, honeycrisp apples, and walnuts — more than once a week and offer more taps for local craft beer. An improved kitchen expands the culinary possibilities for Chef Paulsen and will eliminate the current need for staff to drive to an offsite facility.

“Expanding the Birchwood would give us more food storage space and the kitchen capacity to can, preserve, freeze, ferment, and pickle the best of each season,” says Paulsen. “With the new kitchen, my line will have the tools they need to explore and experiment with a full range of seasonal bounty.” The Birchwood strives to showcase the best of our Midwestern farmland (their Minnesota- and Wisconsin-based purveyors list exceeds 40 producers), offering eight seasonal menus throughout the year. “Having ingredients that are freshly dug, freshly butchered, and minimally processed are more beautiful and more delicious,” says Paulsen. “It’s also about trust — knowing where your food comes from just makes it taste better.”

Food and sustainability heavy-hitters Michael Pollan, Andrew Zimmern, and Joel Salatin have chimed in to endorse the Birchwood and this effort, along with local food and community fans Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and his wife Megan O’Hara.

So, why use Kickstarter to help make all this happen? Restaurant owner Tracy Singleton notes on the project page that they chose to add community funding to the expansion budget, “because conventional financing only takes us so far.” By that, we can assume the loan officers couldn’t translate the monetary value of a Birchwood mouth-watering Savory Waffle or comfort-inducing grass-fed beef burger to a balance sheet. But luckily for Twin Cities’ diners, we can: Pledging to support a small, local business on its journey to serve honest, delicious food is easy — especially when the rewards are so delicious.

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