This week in the Tap: One case for a tip credit, and a look ahead at upcoming restaurants, notes about spots that have closed, and about those that have recently opened.
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.
A FEW WORDS IN FAVOR OF A TIP CREDIT
Every state has its own political traditions, and you can’t help but reflect aspects of where you grew up. I grew up in Madison, Wis., and I was intimately aware of two parallel but different left-wing political impulses: progressivism and radicalism. Both are squishy terms, and both bear plenty of subjective interpretation and historical analysis.
But here’s one idea of what they mean. A progressive searches for roads to improvement for the population at large, with an eye toward easing inequality and improving the overall welfare of the people. A progressive works, well, progressively: seeking incremental improvement through a series of political compromises and experimental initiatives.
A radical, by contrast, knows precisely what the ideal future should look like, and fights for it 100 percent — compromise is seen as weakness, and half-measures are a waste of time.
Raising the minimum wage in Minneapolis to $15 an hour with a tip credit — which is to say, with servers’ tips factored into calculating their wages — is a progressive move. It’s bold, sure, but there’s precedent in other cities, and the tip credit helps buffer the blow to small, independent restaurants that are already squeaking by on thin margins. Servers are guaranteed to make the new wage, and will in many cases earn more if tips are good.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all, tips be damned, is more expensive and consequently more dangerous for restaurants. Whether the good that will be gained from giving servers considerably higher wages will be offset by restaurants’ laying off help or shutting down isn’t at all clear. In a word, it’s a radical step. The rewards are bigger, but the risk of economic damage and a grassroots backlash seems real.
If you’re trying to make up your mind on the issue — and it’s a legitimately interesting debate with solid points scored on both sides — you could do worse than reading the essays by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and former mayor R.T. Rybak.
The Heavy Table is written with the health of the local food community in mind.Our readers are deeply invested in the farms, purveyors, and restaurants of the Upper Midwest. That system prospers when its people prosper, but those people include everyone from dishwashers to servers to chefs to owners, and it’s important to keep the whole system in mind as we work to improve the laws of the land. — James Norton
- Rise Bagel Company, 530 N 3rd St, Minneapolis | Quality bagels in a town hungry for them.
- The Original on 42nd, 1839 E 42nd St, Minneapolis | A sandwich shop in the former Colossal Cafe location.
- StormKing Barbecue, 16½ W 26th St, Minneapolis | A new Texas-style barbecue window from the team behind the adjacent Black Sheep Pizza.
- Grand Cafe, 3804 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis | Now owned by chefs Jamie Malone (above) and Erik Anderson, the cafe features cooking with a French viewpoint along with a new stone patio at the side of the building.
- The Cove, 1320 5th St SE, Minneapolis | Can poke succeed where crudo failed? Let’s find out.
- Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative, 3134 California St NE, Minneapolis | Member-owned. the brewery is primarily a production space, with limited tastings and other public events.
- Lien Son, 1216 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis | Back in business after years out of commission.
- Tenant, 4300 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis | A tasting-menu-only restaurant in the former Piccolo space.
- Black Stack Brewing, 755 Prior Ave N, St. Paul | Sharing a complex with Can Can Wonderland.
- Cardigan Donuts, 40 7th St S, Minneapolis | More action within the “fancy doughnut” sphere.
- Kado no Mise, 33 1st Ave N, Minneapolis | Carefully crafted Japanese fare at Kado ne Mise; sister restaurant Kaiseki Furukawa is on the way.
- Colossal Cafe, 2403 E 38th St, Minneapolis| New, larger cafe in the former Pilgrimage location.
This post is sponsored by Fair State Brewing Cooperative.
On a warm Monday afternoon in late spring, Camp Fair State Director Davin and Counselor Peter were indoors, sipping on Pils and planning the summer event at one of their favorite watering holes, Grumpy’s NE. “But where will we play the lawn games in the evening?” Director Davin asked as he took a bite of a Heggie’s veggie pizza square. “Might Axe’s hop farm – where we will camp – is truly a farm,” Counselor Peter clarified, “It’ll be much different next month. The hop vines weren’t more than six inches tall last week, but the trellises are upwards of twenty.”
Set to start at 9 am on July 8, Camp Fair State is micro-brewed, micro-summer camp experience for its Member-Owners. The shindig is designed to help “escape the city, but also get closer to people” explained Counselor Peter with a wistful gaze into the distance. “And [the Mighty Axe farmers] have a lot of stuff to burn,” Director Davin added, smiling widely. What is a camp without a big bonfire? Not a camp at all, at least for Fair State Co-op members, many of whom have already signed up and are planning their venture north.
There are up to 80 spots available for the daylong adventure in Foley, MN, about an hour and a half drive north of the Twin Cities, where “there is no stream or trees to run off to – we’ll be hanging out by the dozens,” described Director Davin. “It’s about what each member brings to the camp – more summer camp than going camping.” With two skillshare sessions, one in the morning before the build-your-own sandwich bar and a later one before the afternoon snack and the first beer is cracked, some Member-Owners and other participants will teach one another one of their many talents.
While a complete list of activity options will be announced closer to July 8, some are, of course, beer related – previous Home Brew Challenge winner and Member-Owner Kyle Schmidt will lead a homebrewing curriculum. Fair State cellarwoman Rose Picklo will educate campers in the art of fermentation, from kimchi to detecting beer off-flavors. There will also be yoga, crafts and maybe even a sketch comedy show.
“I love that!” Counselor Peter exclaimed. “We can set a scene for Members to improvise on. We’ll shoot, edit, and share it with them. It’s a social media version of the “what I did at summer camp” letter.” Director Davin nodded excitedly back, “The premiere of the Fair State Players!” But does attendance require Fair State membership? Not necessarily: “Members are allowed to bring a non-member plus one, or an interested non-member can be sponsored by a member” Counselor Peter said. “But we’re not trying to be exclusive. We know non-members will feel at home as well. Fair State members are eager to extend their hands and make new friends. The invitation to participate in our community is always open.”
“We thought it’d be fun to go camping with members,” Director Davin extrapolated on the impetus of the summer camp. “We talked about doing a member camp-out along with All Pints North in Duluth in late July, but there is already so much going on we didn’t want to distract – or make people drive after a beer festival.” So they contacted friend and business partner Eric Sannerud, CEO of Mighty Axe Hops, who quickly agreed. Fair State was the fledgling farm’s first customer using their fresh cascade hops in the award-winning wet-hop seasonal golden ale It’s Gold, Jerry!
Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email email@example.com.
The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.
Muffaletta Sandwich at The Original on 42nd
The Muffaletta sandwich at the newly opened The Original on 42nd was described by owner Andy Lilja as the shop’s most popular. After having it, that’s no surprise: It’s all about the balance, with rich and tender meat, a yielding roll, plus nice crunch, acid, and heat from the giardiniera.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]
Patina Cocktail from Copperwing Distillery
The gin-based Patina at Copperwing Distillery is made with fresh basil and lemon juice. The refreshing acidity along with the savory herb restrain the gin and allow the botanicals to take the stage.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from a story by Paige Didora]
Local Strawberries at the Seward Co-op
We stopped by the Seward Co-op yesterday and found the first local strawberries of the season. And since we had been to the gym, we felt justified in thinking about a strawberry sundae with lunch. We used Sweet Science vanilla ice cream and a nicely bittersweet, homemade tangerine-caramel sauce based on syrup left over from candying peel. The berries were red throughout, tender and juicy, and sweet with a slightly tart undertone … in no way like their plastic-foam winter avatars.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Jane Rosemarin]
Banh Mi at Peeps Hot Box
Encased in the quintessential banh mi baguette (crackly thin crust, impossibly soft interior), Peeps Hot Box’s version ($10) is just a slight tilt off the standard version. With its beautifully charred sliced pork, just enough cilantro and pickled vegetables to add fresh crunch, and rooster mayo (thank you for not calling it sriracha aioli!), this is a fantastic sandwich that marches boldly across the full spectrum of flavor. I’ll be looking for their truck again. Probably tomorrow.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from an upcoming review by Ted Held]
Black Currant Dry Cider by No. 12 Cider House
Hard cider has come a long, long way from the sugary, watery, chemical-y garbage foisted upon us by massive multinational companies. Case in point: Minnesota-made No. 12 Cider House, which puts out a range of subtle products including its Black Currant Dry. Dry, subtle, and flavored with a mellow amount of tart astringency, this is a cider that would pair beautifully with any number of foods, playing well with citrus and/or earthy flavors.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]
The best milkshake we ever tried was had about eight years ago in Spokane, Wash., in a diner shaped like a giant milk bottle. It was a huckleberry shake, and the relatively gentle, mild character of the berries made their flavor a subtle accent to the shake’s vanilla ice cream. The berry flavor was a passenger, not a co-pilot, but its essence made the whole package a great deal more interesting and enjoyable.
That same underspoken subtlety comes through in the new Lift Bridge Brewing / Odell Brewing Peaks & Prairies pale ale, a beer that incorporates wheat, Minnesota blue corn, and Colorado huckleberries. The brew (shown above making an appearance at a local D&D night) pours a disconcerting berry red, but the flavor of huckleberries is mellow enough that it’s a cheerful, soft-spoken member of the beer’s flavor team rather than being its order-barking captain. There isn’t too much of a hop presence, which means that the mellow flavor of the huckleberries can be enjoyed without too much astringent interference, but the brew has enough of a body that it’s not a throwaway hot-weather nothing. It’s a moderate 5.75 percent ABV, so it will neither floor you after a glass nor leave you wanting for boozy substance.
We hadn’t planned on having much of the beer — just enough to sample and report on — but damned if it wasn’t so well-rounded, mellow, and agreeable that it compelled multiple return visits. This would be a lovely beer any time of the year, but its balanced berry character makes it an ideal choice for the advent of summer.
In this Toast we sample the spirits at Copperwing Distillery, visit the brand-new Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative, and take a second look at Maple Grove’s OMNI Brewing.
Copperwing Distillery and cocktail room
Copperwing Distillery opened in March as St. Louis Park’s second liquor producer, behind Millers & Saints. The distillery is owned by three science-minded individuals: Kyle Kettering, Brian Idelkope, and Chris Palmisano.
Copperwing’s cocktail room is located in a small business park, and it’s dark and minimalist with a few industrial touches that border on warm. No outdoor seating is available. The stills are visible through the open floor plan and clear partitions, adding to the chic, machine-shop look of the place.
For tasting, a flight of four is a nice option ($6-$8, depending on the chosen sips). Pours are small but sufficient to give a feel for the personality of each spirit.
First is vodka, a staple for micro distilleries due to its rapid turnaround time and usefulness in mixed applications. Copperwing’s is made with 90 percent corn and 10 percent barley, and the aroma has strong grapefruit pith and black pepper. A distracting level of alcoholic heat, as well as heat in the form of spice, hits the palate immediately. After sipping a bit to acclimate, we noted a pleasant bitterness on the finish. This is a fair vodka that would pair well with citrus or floral flavors but could hardly be enjoyed neat. When water is added, some additional complexity blooms, including a mild under-ripe banana note.
The second glass in the flight is called Vodskey, a spirit that shares characteristics of vodka and whiskey, though it is not distilled to a high enough proof to be called vodka. It’s not a brand-new concept but is instead similar to the white — or unaged — whiskey found at other local distilleries such as Loon Liquors or 11 Wells. This one can stand on its own, with its mild tropical fruit notes, black pepper, and greater sweetness than the vodka. Distilling to a lower proof allows for more residual flavor from the mash, which also comes through as lingering warm spices in the finish.
For such a young distillery to be producing whiskey is questionable. But cocktail rooms in Minnesota are legally prevented from serving spirits that are not made in house. This leads to, with few exceptions, the purchase and rebranding of someone else’s whiskey, telling customers to be patient for the next 5 years, or the release of an immature product.
Copperwing gives us an example of the third option. The whiskey is lightly colored and smells of wet newspaper and soggy wood, and it’s harsh and hot until the very end of a sip, at which point the appropriate wood notes come through briefly. It tastes young, but overly tannic at the same time, especially when mixed or diluted, making the wood element feel a bit forced, rather than a result of years spent in barrels.
Copperwing’s newest product is gin made with the same grains plus undisclosed botanicals, both steeped and vapor-infused. The aroma screams London Dry, but the first sips are botanical with an emphasis on cardamom and juniper. Unfortunately, the flaw here is more sweetness than should be expected in any gin. It could work well to balance a potent tonic, but when used in the Martinez ($10), with house vermouth, Angostura, and Fee Brothers cherry bitters, it throws the drink off balance with sugar.
The more successful gin option is the Patina ($10), made with fresh basil and lemon juice. The refreshing acidity along with the savory herb restrain the gin and allow the botanicals to take the stage.
For a traditional martini, the Dirty Dirty ($10) falls short of perfection but fits the bill. We found its balance to vary from visit to visit, but the olive brine and vodka were reliably present. The vermouth and smoked salt were sometimes lost, which was to the detriment of the drink, which without them is entirely one-dimensional. It could benefit from acid, as well.
The cocktails were developed with the assistance of Lee Carter and Jason Westplate of Cocktailian.
Finally, for a twist on the traditional, we recommend tasting the Earl Grey vodka, which needs no explanation. The potent bergamot and black tea notes, while intense, taste natural and create a memorable sip. Look for additional infused offerings as Copperwing grows.
Copperwing Distillery, 6409 Cambridge St, St Louis Park, MN 55426; 612.293.6137. Mon-Tue closed, Wed 5-11 p.m., Thu 3-11 p.m., Fri 5 p.m.-midnight, Sat 2 p.m.-midnight.
OMNI Brewing Shows Great Improvement
After struggling with quality and recipe development on opening, Maple Grove’s OMNI Brewing has shown notable improvement this spring. The beer menu has grown not only in size, which is to be expected from a maturing taproom, but in execution.
Our first visit revealed flaws that may have arisen from rushing beer to opening week, but a recent trip showed just the opposite: properly attenuated and conditioned beers free of fermentation flaws.
The classics are well-executed. One favorite was the hefeweizen ($5/pint), which is appropriately bright with a generous body. There is a heavy clove phenol that falls at the high end for the style, but it tastes intentional and brilliantly clean. With its effervescent and dry finish, it will appeal to lovers of German wheat beers. Also try the Pils ($5/pint), which demonstrates a flawless use of Cheerios-like malt and has a truncated, crisp finish. Sterling hops give just enough bite without overpowering the Pilsner malt.