Experienced Chef Leads Revamped Thrivent Cafe

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The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding a Heavy Table pint glass to the best tipster each month. 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 Jason Walker at jason@heavytable.com.

January’s winner: Eric Korte of Minneapolis

Thrivent Cafe (now open)

625 4th Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.844.8224

Hiding in plain sight for a while now, chef Jimmy McMullan’s Thrivent Cafe is open to the public for breakfast and lunch with an ever-changing menu and several stations that offer pizza, sandwiches, and more.

McMullan moved to Minnesota eight years ago from New York, where he worked at the swanky St. Regis Hotel after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America. Thrivent hired him a couple years ago when it decided to revamp and completely remodel its former restaurant, and the new cafe concept opened late last year: several stations (breakfast, salad, entree, pizza, etc.) that offer a daily special as well as some build-your own options. The entree line may serve carved prime rib, tater tot hot dish, salmon or fire-roasted cod; at the “exhibition” station McMullan might whip up Szechuan chicken, a risotto, or stir fry.

“Our big things are freshness, being house-made, and when it’s in season I try to use as much local as I can,” McMullan said. “We really push wellness, we steam our vegetables, and, if anything, use olive oil or nothing at all because we want to leave vegetables as pure as possible. We’re also very gluten-friendly, too.

“That’s what we’re shooting for is being able to have food for everybody: vegetarians, vegans, so we’re not excluding anybody and also offering something for vegetarians, say, that’s not just grilled vegetables. We put a lot of effort into making good food for everybody.”

Diners can build a personal pizza on house-made white or wheat dough, or just get a slice; there’s also a daily deli sandwich and soup. McMullan said his salad station was especially popular, including Wednesday’s taco salad special.

“Last week I ran a version of Thanksgiving with a salad of diced white turkey, choice of greens, candied pecans, mini marshmallows, and a Cranberry vinaigrette,” he said.

Breakfasts include made-to-order omelets, biscuits and sausage gravy, an espresso bar, and pastries. And, fro-yo alert: there’s even a frozen yogurt bar. See, hiding in plain sight, all this stuff.

The Thrivent Cafe is open to the public for breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday.

Seward Cafe (adding dinner service)

2129 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis | 612.332.1011

Did I mention vegans? Seward Cafe is adding dinner service next month and will include a variety of dishes for omni- and herbivores alike.

According to a news release, in addition to comfort food like brats, mac and cheese, and hot sandwiches, the expanded Seward “aims to serve healthier alternatives to highly processed soy products used as meat substitutes,” like a veggie burger made with mung beans and another with wild rice. Hey, as a meat eater I still love a veggie burger when it’s well-made in-house, so creative attempts like that are A-OK.

The Seward Cafe is also adding beer and wine at dinner and will be open until midnight weekdays and 1 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Also, the news release said the Seward Cafe has been open since 1974 and is the “oldest collectively run business in the Midwest.” That gives me a pang for the long-shuttered and collectively run Paradise Cafe of my Lawrence, KS, college years, where I took my ultra-conservative grandparents for breakfast on my wedding day and was served by a flamboyantly gay waiter. Happy memories.

Burch Steak, Burch Pizza Bar (now open)

1942 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | 612.843.1515

It’d be shoddy not to mention Burch Steak and Burch Pizza Bar, the upstairs-downstairs colossus that opened last week from Isaac Becker, the James Beard Award-winning chef behind 112 Eatery and Bar La Grassa. Housed in the former Burch Pharmacy building at Franklin and Hennepin, Burch Steak offers two sizes of various cuts of sustainably raised beef; a “raw” menu of tuna, lamb tartare, oysters, and the like; a full line of dumplings; and several non-steak entrees. The pizza bar downstairs offers nine pies, small plates, and desserts.

The whole thing is pretty ambitious by size alone, but if anybody has the chops to pull off three constantly packed restaurants, it’s Becker. And given its Lowry Hill location, it’s not hard to imagine Burch becoming this year’s most successful new restaurant.

NOW OPEN

Jason Schoneman of Steel Toe Brewing

Lars Swanson / Heavy Table

  • Steel Toe Brewing Taproom, 4848 W 35th St, St. Louis Park | 952.955.9965
  • Lago Tacos, 30 Water St, Excelsior | 952.300.8495
  • Nicollet Coffee, 2805 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis. Inside Nicollet Halal Market. | 612.872.1414
  • Smack Shack, Washington Ave N and 6th Ave N, Minneapolis | 651.317.4717
  • Lavvu Coffee House, 817 4th St SE, Minneapolis | 612.331.4136
  • Las Sirenas, 199 Plato Blvd, St. Paul | 651.888.2233
  • Grand Central, 1672 Grand Ave, St. Paul. New cafe from Shish Cafe owners. | 651.964.1015
  • Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Mall of America, Bloomington | 952.883.4223
  • Capitol Cafe, 2417 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis
  • Blue Door Pub, 3448 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.315.2470
  • Parka, 4023 E Lake St, Minneapolis | 612.886.1585
  • Dangerous Man Brewing, 1300 2nd St NE, Minneapolis | 612.209.2626
  • Northgate Brewing, 3134 California St NE, Minneapolis. Beers available on tap only. | 612.234.1056
  • Milton’s Cafe, 3545 Douglas Dr N, Crystal | 763.535.9373
  • BYO Burger, 1221 S Robert St, West St. Paul | 651.457.4800
  • Vitali’s Bistro, 5101 Minnetonka Blvd, St. Louis Park
  • Sky Bites, 811 LaSalle Ave (skyway), Minneapolis | 612.767.2480
  • The Sparrow Cafe, 5001 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.353.5177
  • Borough, 730 Washington Ave, Minneapolis | 612.354.3135
  • Bangkok Thai Deli, 333 University Ave, St. Paul. Reopened in new location. | 651.224.4300
  • Sakana Sushi & Asian Bistro, 740 Cleveland Ave S, St. Paul
  • Eat Street Eatery, 2718 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Redstone American Grill, 12109 Main St, Maple Grove | 763.420.0232
  • Pour Decisions Brewery, 1744 Terrace Dr, Roseville | 612.567.6871
  • Ward 6, 858 Payne Ave, St. Paul | 651.348.8181

CLOSED / CLOSING:

  • Kinsen Noodles and Bar, 1300 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis. Closing Feb. 27. | 612.367.4595
  • Fischerville Coffee House, 2150 Dodd Rd, Mendota Heights
  • Dean’s Tavern, 1986 Rice St, Maplewood
  • Midway Rendezvous Coffee, 518 Snelling Ave N, St. Paul
  • Midori’s Floating World, 2629 E Lake St, Minneapolis. Closed temporarily due to water main break. | 612.721.3011
  • Cat Man Do, 1659 Grand Ave, St. Paul
  • Pizza 3, 1556 Selby Ave, St. Paul
  • Boston Garden, 1019 Mainstreet, Hopkins
  • River Room (inside Macy’s), 411 Cedar St, St. Paul
  • Pandolfi, 3922 W 50th St, Edina
  • Pardon My French, 1565 Cliff Rd, Eagan, and Mall of America
  • D’Amico Kitchen at the Chambers Hotel, 901 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis

COMING UP:
Minneapolis

  • Smoke in the Pit, 3733 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Zeke’s Unchained Animal, 3508 E Lake St, Minneapolis. Opens late February. | 612.720.9878
  • Origami, 1352 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis. Opens late February.
  • Rincon 38, 3801 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens this winter. | 612.408.7063
  • Potter’s Pasties, 1827 Como Ave, Minneapolis. Opens this spring. | 612.819.3107
  • The Nicollet Diner, 1428 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens this spring.
  • Tangiers Eatery and Lounge, 116 First Ave N, Minneapolis. Opens in March.
  • Seward Cafe, 2129 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. Opening in March for dinner service. | 612.332.1011
  • Terzo, 2221 W 50th St, Minneapolis. New wine bar from Broders; opens this spring.
  • Tiny Diner, 1014 E 38th St, Minneapolis | 612.822.6302
  • Spill the Wine, Lake St and Bryant Ave, Minneapolis. Moving from downtown location in April 2013. | 612.339.3388
  • Morrissey’s Irish Pub, 913 W Lake St, Minneapolis. Opens early 2013.
  • Marin, 901 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens summer 2013.
  • Unnamed Gastrotruck restaurant, 2400 University Ave NE, Minneapolis. Opens in 2013.
  • Rocky and Shem’s Ice Cream Shoppe, 56th and Chicago, Minneapolis. Opens in 2013.
  • Sandcastle, Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis. Doug Flicker’s concessionaire restaurant at the lake. Opens spring 2013.
  • Town Hall Tap, 5019 34th Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Kitty’s Corner Cafe, 806 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis
  • The Original Just Turkey Restaurant, 3758 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis

St. Paul

Greater Twin Cities Area

  • Sushi Fix, 862 E Lake St, Wayzata. Opens March 1. | 612.532.0305
  • Hammerheart Brewing, 7785 Lake Dr, Lino Lakes. Opens early 2013. | 651.964.2160
  • Hello Pizza, 3904 Sunnyside Rd, Edina. Opens early 2013.
  • Osaka Seafood and Steakhouse, Woodbury Lakes, Woodbury. Opens early 2013.
  • Punch Pizza, City Centre Dr, Woodbury. Opens June 2013.
  • Black Sea, 1581 E County Road E, White Bear Lake

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 Heavy Table writer Jason Walker. If you have tips for The Tap, please email Jason at jason@heavytable.com.

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About the Author

Jason Walker

Jason Walker was born and raised in Kansas, where he grew up loving his grandmother’s homemade noodles and weekly fried fish. A summer internship in Milwaukee turned Jason and his wife, Leita, into die-hard fans of the Northwoods culture, and they moved to Minneapolis in 2006. Immediately the quality of food and drink in the Twin Cities was impressive – that even the most unassuming bar usually had a decent menu – and Jason knew he was home. Now living in the Fulton neighborhood with two kids, Jason grows tomatoes, cans voraciously, and badgers his neighbors with conversations about restaurants.

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