The Tap: The Noble Farce of the Modern Apple Orchard

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This week in the Tap: The secret to picking a good apple (orchard).

shepherd-song-tap-logo-final-keylineThe Tap is a biweekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm. “We raise 100-percent grass-fed lambs & goats traditionally, humanely, and sustainably.”

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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 editor@heavytable.com.

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

The Noble Farce of the Modern Apple Orchard

Sometime soon, when the temperature takes even the slightest dip from “summery” into “autumnal,” my wife and I will pack up our two-year-old and head out to an apple orchard in the western suburbs. We’ve been to plenty of real, working farms, orchards, and vineyards, so we don’t have any illusions that this excursion will constitute participation in grass-roots regional agriculture, but we’re looking forward to the visit nonetheless.

The fun of these trips comes from the tension between two equally unpleasant points on the end of a long continuum. On one end, you have the apple orchard as theme park — carnival rides, full-service doughnut shop, mass hysteria. If you’ve ever been to Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater, where the actual apple trees are such an afterthought that they’re relegated to the parking lot, you’ve experienced this particular vision of autumnal purgatory.

On the other end is a field with some apple trees. While actually very pleasant in many regards, there’s not much to be done but spend 10 minutes filling a paper bag, forking over some cash, and hitting the road for home.

If Aamodt’s is a 10 and a tree-dappled field is a 1 on the Orchard Insanity Meter, I like my apple experience to clock in at about 7.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

That means there will be a hay-bale maze. There may be a small petting zoo. Pumpkins are a nice bonus. And apple cider doughnuts are an absolute must. Slices of apple pie wouldn’t be unwelcome either, and sure, some coffee to drink with the pie sounds nice. But there should also be a rolling hill or two, and a legitimate picking opportunity, and a rolling stream wouldn’t be a bad addition.

The beauty of an orchard that plays the balancing game well is that it provides visitors with a have-your-pie-and-eat-it-too situation. You can pick up your kid and have her awkwardly wrest a Honeycrisp from a tree while the camera catches every blessed pastoral moment for distribution on social media. And you can enjoy a relaxing walk through country terrain. Then you can kick up your feet and watch your son or daughter or multiple offspring race around a hay-bale maze, and stuff your face with as many mini cider doughnuts as you can stand.

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

Did you save any money on apples by coming out here? Absolutely not. You almost certainly could have bought them more inexpensively at Costco or any given farmers market. Did you have a real rural experience? Kind of, I guess? There were some lambs — or were they alpacas? And you don’t get to see hay every day, so that’s a plus. And you got out of the city, and past the malls and concrete, and that’s worth something. But did you have a nice time? Absolutely.

Becca Dilley

Becca Dilley

So when people ask you about the best apple orchards around here, before you answer, ask them their favorite number on the Orchard Insanity Meter. We all look for something different when we drive out to the country in September, and there’s no shame in any of it — just apples. And doughnuts, maybe. — James Norton

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

A Wisconsinite Surveys Minnesota Cheese

There’s a really nice survey of Minnesota cheese including Alemar (above), Redhead Creamery, and The Lone Grazer posted over on Cheese Underground:

“First up: my new favorite cheese — and I don’t say this lightly – is Grazier’s Edge from the fine folks at The Lone Grazer in Minneapolis. Grazier’s Edge is comparable — do I daresay better? – than the original raw milk St. Nectaire I tasted in 2011 in the Auvergne region of France and aged on straw mats in the underground caves of Jean d’Alos Fromagerie.”

We are truly blessed to be living in such lactically-active times. — James Norton

NOW OPEN

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

  • The Alchemist, 2222 4th St, White Bear Lake | A craft cocktail haven run by legendary mixologist Johnny Michaels (above).
Screenshot from seward.coop

Screenshot from seward.coop

  • Seward Co-op Creamery Neighborhood Cafe, 2601 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis | See our preview here. We have high hopes for this place between the chef (Lucas Almendinger, formerly of Third Bird) and Seward’s connections to the local food scene.
  • Bogart’s Doughnut Company, downtown location, IDS Center, Minneapolis | Bogart’s is up there with Mojo Monkey and YoYo Donuts for quality and creativity, so it’s encouraging to see them grow.
  • Loon Liquors cocktail room, 1325 Armstrong Rd #165, Northfield | There’s a nice profile of this new cocktail space over on the Growler.
  • Cien Tacos, 803 Bielenberg Drive, Woodbury | Apparently they will not, in fact, offer 100 different kinds of tacos, which is a minor bummer.
  • Bar Luchador, 825 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis | A new Mexican / L.A. street food place in the old Campus Pizza location. Here’s our positive In Brief review.
  • I (Heart) Pho, 850 Maryland Ave E, St. Paul | A short item in the PiPress indicates that this place is owned by the same folks who run iPho by Saigon.
  • Green and the Grain, LaSalle Plaza Skyway, 800 LaSalle Avenue | The food truck is now a skyway dining spot.
  • Parella, Calhoun Square | Along with Monello and Il Foro, this is part of the intoxicating fog of upscale Italian restaurants that has descended upon us. Michael Larson (formerly of Parasole, currently of Digby’s) is behind this venture.
  • IN Spirits, 983 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | The crazy flavor crew of Verdant Tea is back after the shuttering of their Franklin Avenue spot, presenting a collaboration in Northeast Minneapolis that pairs them up with Intelligent Nutrients. Jess Fleming praised the aromatherapeutic cocktails as “stunners.” The name is essentially impossible to Google.
  • Hiko Sushi, 1466 Yankee Doodle Road, Eagan | Don’t judge a sushi place by its location; we really enjoyed Haiku in Mendota Heights when it opened.
Peter Sieve / Heavy Table

Peter Sieve / Heavy Table

  • Tattersall Distilling, 1620 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | The place-of-the-moment, and why shouldn’t it be? Cocktail rooms are white hot right now, and proprietor Dan Oskey has a solid rep. Here’s our review.

CLOSED / CLOSING:

  • Republic (Uptown location) | We’ve heard that Republic’s second location, in Calhoun Square, is closing Oct. 11, which is a shame – always a solid beer selection.
  • Masa | This well-known downtown Minneapolis D’Amico & Partners spot is closing Oct. 24. It had a pretty good run: 10 years.
  • Paleos | Designed to harness excitement surrounding the Paleo eating trend, this spot survived for less than a year.
  • Cow Bella Gelato | Farewell frozen treats, hello Erbert and Gerbert’s. At least the excellent IndoChin is still next door.
  • Fuji-Ya (St. Paul location) | Like so many closings, this happened on the quiet — we heard about it from a reader and confirmed it by checking their website (which now only lists a Minneapolis location.) Seemingly bad news for this reliable sushi institution.
  • Digby’s (both locations) | An unexpected end for the suburban, burger-driven eatery concept by Michael Larson (formerly of Parasole).
  • Blue Point Restaurant & Oyster Bar (Wayzata and Bloomington) | Seafood can be a struggle around here, but these guys lasted 30 years — no small feat.
  • BlueStone Steak and Seafood (Eagan) | Brief item in the PiPress.
  • Nye’s Polonaise Room (closing 2015) | This trolltastic City Pages column nonetheless does a good job of expressing some of the ambiguity about the passing of the nationally known and locally legendary Nye’s.

COMING UP:

Minneapolis

  • Ramen Kazama, 3400 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis | Looking like late September 2015
  • Milkjam Creamery at World Street Kitchen, 2743 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis | Late 2015 / Early 2016 | A gourmet ice cream shop by Sameh and Saed Wadi, the brothers behind World Street Kitchen and Saffron.
  • Polpo | Late 2015 | In the former La Mac Cleaners space, run by David Hahne, the former chef of the excellent Cave Vin.
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

  • Cafe Alma, 528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis | Late 2015 or Early 2016 | Hailed by the Star Tribune as this year’s Best Upcoming Project and a “casual breakfast-to-late night cafe, coffee bar, wine bar and bakery.”
  • Inbound Brewco, 701 5th St N | End of 2015 | Appears to be a spin-off of Lucid.
  • Savory Bake House, 3008 36th Ave S, Minneapolis | 2015 | Located across the street from Merlin’s Rest, “Savory is a new twist on the old school rustic bakery everyone knows and loves,” or so says their Facebook page. Baker is Sandra Sherva from Merlin’s Rest and formerly of Birchwood.
  • Saint Genevieve, 5003 Bryant Ave, Minneapolis | Early 2016 | Expectations are high for this Steve Brown-helmed restaurant, which will dish up approachable French fare.
  • Brut | 2016 | With all the culinary firepower of Erik Anderson and Jamie Malone, Brut promises exciting things.
  • Lawless Distilling, 2619 28th Ave S, Minneapolis | Fall 2015
  • Scena Tavern, 2943 Girard Ave S, Minneapolis | Fall 2015
  • Bonicelli Kitchen, 1901 NE Fillmore St, Minneapolis | Fall 2015 | A catering business making the jump to bricks-and-mortar.
  • Twin Spirits Distillery, 2931 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Fall 2015
  • Able Seedhouse and Brewery, 1121 Quincy St NE, Minneapolis | Winter 2015
  • Lakes and Legends Brewing Company, 1368 Lasalle Ave, Minneapolis | Fall 2015
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

  • Q Fanatic, 6009 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Fall 2015 (second location) | Although the local BBQ scene is mighty weak, we do think Q Fanatic does a good job at serving up serious Q. This new location, along with upcoming truck Bark and the Bite, suggests that there’s hope for us yet.
  • DiNoko’s Pizzeria, 4457 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis and 4747 Nicollet Avenue S, Minneapolis | September 7, 2015 — Seems ambitious based on our most recent drive-by, but you seriously never know.  Apropos of Giordano’s (see above), DiNoko’s is a local place that can do deep dish pizza seriously well. Their move from Nokomis to downtown Minneapolis didn’t work out; here’s hoping that their return foray to South Minneapolis does. UPDATE: According to the restaurant’s website, they’re opening a location on Nicollet Avenue, too.
  • Eggy’s Diner, LPM Apartments, 120 14th St W, Minneapolis | Summer 2015 | If this name doesn’t set expectations comfortably low for you, I’m not sure what would.
  • Bryn Mawr Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave N, Minneapolis | Winter 2015
  • Eastside at Latitude 45, 301 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis | September 29, 2015 | Eastside will feature Seattle-based chef Nick Dugan as its chef de cuisine working alongside executive chef Remy Pettus.
  • Restaurant TBA replacing the Modern in Northeast Minneapolis | Fall 2015
James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

  • Hi-Lo Diner (working name), 4020 E Lake St, Minneapolis | Fall 2015 | Seward and Longfellow are really jumping onto the breakfast train after years of struggling to get by with nothing more than the overpriced Longfellow Grill and the inedible Denny’s; Mon Petit Chéri seems to be doing well, and the new Seward Co-op Creamery Cafe will be a serious breakfast presence as well. Hi-Lo is getting in as the neighborhoods heat up. Here’s the press release and a photo of a crane lifting the diner into place.
  • Seward Co-op Friendship Store, 317 38th St E, Minneapolis | Fall 2015
  • Upton43, 4312 Upton Ave, Minneapolis | September 2015 | This spot, by Victory 44’s Erick Harcey, is a chance for the much lauded chef to bounce back from the bust-up of Stock and Badge and rollup of the ambitious but shaky Parka.
  • Urban Forage Winery and Cider House, 3016 E Lake St, Minneapolis | Fall 2015 | We profiled these guys when they were mounting their (successful) Kickstarter campaign, and they have a fascinating take on how to do earthy, grassroots local wine and cider.
  • Lost Falls Distillery, 1915 E 22nd St, Minneapolis | Fall 2015
  • The Herbivorous Butcher, 507 1st Ave NE, Minneapolis | Fall 2015 | These guys have gotten serious national press and look poised to become a force in the food scene once their bricks-and-mortar spot is up and running.
  • Pizzeria Lola concept TBD, 165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis | 2015
  • The Bachelor Farmer Cafe project to be named, 200 N 1st St, Minneapolis | 2015

St. Paul

  • Dark Horse Bar and Eatery, 250 E 7th St , St. Paul | 2015 | From the same folks who brought us Muddy Waters, as per this story.
  • Sunrise Creative Gourmet, 1085 Grand Ave., St. Paul | October, 2015 | A big move for the Hibbing-born Italian specialty shop, which will open in the former Chez Arnaud space on Grand Avenue and offer some cafe-type noshes including soups, salads, and pastries. A Kickstarter campaign is underway to ease the move.
  • World of Beer, 356 N. Sibley St., St. Paul | 2015 | Part of a chain including locations in Wauwatosa and Appleton, WI and Naperville, IL
  • Lake Monster Brewing, 550 Vandalia St, St. Paul | Fall or Winter 2015
Courtesy of Lucas Gluesenkamp / lucasgluesenkamp.com/

Courtesy of Lucas Gluesenkamp / lucasgluesenkamp.com/

  • Bad Weather Brewing, 414 7th St W, St. Paul | Fall 2015 | The space looks just about ready to go, as per the brewery’s Facebook page.
  • Heirloom, 2186 Marshall Ave, St. Paul | Fall 2015 | W.A. Frost chef Wyatt Evans hopes to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors (such as Russell Klein and Lenny Russo) and found a new St. Paul gastronomic institution. “Modern but … approachable … slow food” sounds pretty good to us (quotes from the Pioneer Press preview).
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

  • 11 Wells Millwright Cocktail Room, Historic Hamm Building, St. Paul | Fall 2015
  • Lexington (new ownership), 1096 Grand Ave, St. Paul | Mid-November 2015 or later | It’ll be interesting to see how the ambitious team behind this revamp and relaunch tackles the task. Between its facade, its location, and its glorious but stuffy, old-school feel, we’ll find it tough to sort the baby from the bathwater on this one. Jess Fleming sums up the progress or lack thereof here.

Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond

  • OMNI Brewing Co., 9462 Deerwood Lane N, Maple Grove | Sept. 20, 2015 | Previewed by the Growler.
  • Kendall’s Tavern and Chophouse, 12800 Bunker Prairie Road, Coon Rapids | October 2015 | Tavern-style food including steaks and pizza from Morrissey Hospitality Companies, the folks behind the St. Paul Grill, Pazzluna, and more. The spot will have room for 236 guests in the bar and dining room, plus a patio.
  • Oude Oak, Midway Township | Spring 2016 | A new sour beer-only brewery planned for just south of Duluth.
  • The Unofficial Dive Bar and Grill, 3701 Stinson Blvd, St. Anthony | Nov. 2, 2015
  • St. Croix Brewing Company, 114 Chestnut St E, Stillwater | 2015
  • Angry Inch Brewing, 20841 Holyoke Ave, Lakeville | 2015
  • Ruscello, Nordstrom Ridgedale, Minnetonka | October 2015
  • ZZQ Smokehouse, 3390 Coachman Road, Eagan | October 2015
  • 10K Brewing, Bank Block on Second and Main, Anoka | 2015 | A reader writes: “According to their Kickstarter, they are looking to have a backer party August 21 / 22 and then a full opening after that. It’s currently all dependent on a liquor license from Anoka though. But since they drove the city council to allow tap rooms inside city limits, this is likely to approved.”
  • Gogi Bros. House, Shady Oak Retail Center, Eden Prairie | Soon | They say “the wait is almost over,” and they’ve started hiring.
  • Wicked Wort Brewing Co., 4165-4175 W Broadway, Robbinsdale | Fall 2015

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 editor@heavytable.com.

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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7 Comments

  1. Jason Walker 09/15/2015 Reply

    We once had a harrowing experience dodging traffic at a Stillwater orchard, could have been Aamodt’s, where I witnessed that 10-scale insanity and said, “never again.” And this was BEFORE we had kids.

  2. Bridget 09/16/2015 Reply

    What is with the distinct lack of apple cider donuts (covered in cinnamon sugar) here in Minnesota? They are a big part of the experience in all the orchards on the East Coast, and it just doesn’t feel like autumn without them, alas.

    If you ever feel like doing a roundup of apple orchards and classifying by apples available, Orchard Insanity Factor, animals/hay rides/corn mazes, your adoring public would appreciate it!

  3. Author

    I’ve had “orchard round-up” on my to-do list for the past couple years, but I haven’t yet gotten focused enough to tackle it – it’ll require a lot of time and travel. But thanks for reminding me – next year I’ll try to give it a shot. As for cider doughnuts – I think both Apple Jack’s and Minnetonka Orchards have them, and I’ve enjoyed them both.

  4. Todd T 09/16/2015 Reply

    I believe Pine Tree Orchard in White Bear has them and is probably closer to a 6 on your meter.

  5. Jill L. 09/17/2015 Reply

    I’ve had the doughnuts at both Apple Jack and Minnetonka. Unfortunately, they’ve always been cold, so they don’t taste like anything special.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. […] from which we ordered take out. It’s zany. In a recent article about local apple orchards, Heavy Table introduced an Orchard Insanity Meter to help people navigate the spectrum between “a field […]

  2. […] recent piece by James Norton over at HeavyTable on the “Noble Farce” of the modern apple orchard inspired me to comment here on our autumn ritual of visiting the folks […]

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