Lavvu Preserves Sami Culture Through Coffee

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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

Lavvu Coffee House (now open)

817 4th St SE, Minneapolis | 612.331.4136

Boy, you learn something new every day. Case in point: Lavvu Coffee House, which opened last week, is devoted to serving coffee in the traditional style of the Sami people from northern Scandinavia. Owner Chris Pesklo is driven to create a coffee shop that not only serves fine food and coffee but also educates customers on the history and traditions of Sami culture. The decor includes its namesake lavvu, a teepee-like traditional Sami tent where you can sit and sip your latte. Top that, Caribou.

Pesklo said Sami-style coffee is quite strong, includes a variety of spices – he’s consulting with local Sami elders for various recipes – and is like lutefisk in that people who enjoy Sami coffee are partially drawn because of the history behind it.

“To go from a traditional latte and then back to Sami coffee, it would be a big shock,” he said. “The whole process is educational about Sami culture. There, you’re out in the tundra, the cold, you have some coffee, it has to be brewed extremely hot, and with a mixture of spices. It has a very different, more crude taste … it’s supposed to be very strong, almost brutal.”

According to Pesklo, the Sami ties to coffee predate Scandinavians’ general obsession with the stuff. In the 1850s, a minister introduced coffee to the Sami people as a diversion from alcoholism, which was devastating the culture. It’s all quite interesting, but after talking to Pesklo all I can think is that if Sami-style coffee is described as “brutal,” then, to quote Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.” Oh, and famous folks with Sami heritage include Joni Mitchell and Renee Zellweger. See, you learn something new every day.

Lavvu will also sell baked goods, soups and sandwiches as well as waffles – both traditional and savory types invented by kitchen chief Jessica Carney, who is working on stuffed versions like a pizza waffle and a taco waffle. “We hope to really make it big on that,” Carney said. No word yet on how Sami elders feel about taco waffles.

Lavvu had previously occupied a space in Blaine’s waning Northtown Mall, but Pesklo felt a home near the U. of M. would work better for his intellectually motivated coffeehouse. His shop is open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

Smack Shack (now open)

Washington Ave N and 6th Ave N, Minneapolis | 651.317.4717

Of all the restaurants I’ve seen open in two-plus years writing The Tap, there have been few I’d absolutely swear would succeed. Smack Shack’s new restaurant in the North Loop is one of them.

Josh Thoma’s ridiculously popular food truck-cum-restaurant opened last week with a huge lobster tank and serves its trademark lobster roll alongside many other choices: lobster any which way but loose, oysters on the half shell, five different po’ boys, burgers, soups, steaks – even fried chicken and smoked duck poutine. Everything sounds pretty darn tasty.

The booze menu includes a few cocktails and a ho-hum beer list; by the looks of it I’d recommend first having a couple of Jesse Held’s cocktails across the way at Parlour, then shuffle on over for some littleneck clams.

Smack Shack’s new joint will likely print money, and deservedly so, but I’ll say this: While the Warehouse District is awash in terrific upscale restaurants, I’ve heard from residents it could sure use someplace a little less spectacular and more affordable – an everyday all-day diner or well-done cafe, a la The Lowry, or a solid beer bar like Republic. As more people continue to move into that neighborhood, it’s bound to happen.

One Two Three Sushi (opens tomorrow)

80 S 8th St, Minneapolis | 651.294.7000

The first in a potential franchise, One Two Three Sushi is set to open in the IDS Center skyway. It’s a little like a sub shop in that the sushi chefs will custom-make your rolls – customers can pick white or brown rice and a variety of seafood, meat, vegetables, fruits, toppings and sauces. There will be pre-made sushi for grab-and-go, and hot options include several ramens and steamed buns.

One Two Three is owned by Sushi Avenue, the company behind Masu Sushi and Robata; don’t be surprised if they start popping up around the metro. The IDS location was slated to open tomorrow, so place your wagers now on the date its customer line first becomes entangled with Potbelly’s.

NOW OPEN

  • 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
  • Parka, 4023 E Lake St, Minneapolis
  • 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
Crystal Liepa / Heavy Table

Crystal Liepa / Heavy Table

CLOSED/CLOSING:

  • 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 | 952.928.3000
  • Pardon My French, 1565 Cliff Rd, Eagan, and Mall of America
  • D’Amico Kitchen at the Chambers Hotel, 901 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Nokomis Grill, 5406 34th Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Takk for Maten, 11 E Superior St, Duluth
  • Origami, 12305 Wayzata Blvd, Minnetonka

COMING UP:
Minneapolis

  • 612 Brew taproom, 945 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis. Opens Feb. 13. | 612.217.0437
  • Glam Doll Donuts, 2605 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis. Opens Feb. 15.
  • Red Cow, 3624 W 50th St, Minneapolis. Opens Feb. 18. | 651.336.2179
  • Burch Steak, Burch Pizza Bar, 1942 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis. Isaac Becker’s planned steakhouse in old Burch Pharmacy. Opens Feb. 19.
  • Smoke in the Pit, 3733 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens in February.
  • 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 for dinner service. | 612.332.1011
  • Broders Wine Bar, 2221 W 50th St, Minneapolis
  • Tiny Diner, 1014 E 38th St, Minneapolis | 612.822.6302
  • Spill the Wine, Lake and Bryant, 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
  • The Original Just Turkey Restaurant, 3758 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Kitty’s Corner Cafe, 806 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis

St. Paul

  • Daily Diner Frogtown, 615 University Ave, St. Paul. Opens this winter. | 651.789.7661
  • Tacos, Nachos and Beer, 5 W 7th Pl, St. Paul. Opens this winter.
  • Bang Brewing, 2320 Capp Rd, St. Paul. Opens in 2013.
  • French Meadow, 1662 Grand Ave, St. Paul. Opens in 2013.

Greater Twin Cities Area

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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