The Churn: Food Truck Fight and More

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

WACSO visits Foxy Falafel (pictured above; here’s our review). Midori’s Floating World is literally floating after a burst water pipe. Rick sends off the River Room. A taste of the Lomo de Cerdo of Chef Jorge Guzman of Solera. A preview of Lavvu Coffee House, which will be North America’s only Sami-inspired coffee shop. A throwdown pitting Wisconsin cheese against its Italian counterparts. Andrew Zimmern (correctly) notes that “half the restaurants in the skyway are serving some of the worst food in the city” in the context of a restaurant versus food truck feud downtown.

The Churn: Street Food, Lutefisk, and More

Drinks at Psycho Suzi's
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

LaClare Farms breaks ground on a new dairy plant and cheese aging facility. An interview with Don Saunders of The Kenwood and In Season. I try lutefisk so that you don’t have to (you’re welcome). City Page profiles Midtown Global Market pegged to Sabbai Cuisine and Fresco’s Pasta Bar. Seasonal thoughts on pickled herring, featuring Ingebretsen’s. Common Roots is hiring a chef/kitchen manager, among other positions. Our own Becca Dilley writes about street food for Minnesota Meetings and Events magazine (featuring Foxy Falafel, Saucy Burt’s, and Vellee Deli.) And serious volcano drinks (take note, Psycho Suzi’s, pictured above) and wacky atmosphere give Hunan Garden a real edge in the Chinese restaurant party zone scene.

Brunch at Foxy Falafel in St. Paul

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Perennial farmers market favorite Foxy Falafel thrilled fans when owner Erica Strait (below) opened a restaurant of the same moniker in the old Caribe space in St. Paul this summer, but it wasn’t until this past weekend that Strait and her friendly staff opened their doors for brunch. And after sampling the Middle Eastern-inspired breakfast dishes in the small but homey dining room Saturday morning, we found ourselves asking: Erica, what took you so long? Not only does she serve up her signature falafel and sabich sandwiches, but Strait brings together a variety of tempting dishes, for both carnivores and herbivores, gluten-free and gluten-friendly, that make brunch into a spicy, savory, and entirely satisfactory affair — even without a strip of bacon.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Yes, Virginia, you can have a bloody amazing brunch without bacon (but still with a Bloody Mary). You won’t miss the pig when you order the chicken two ways ($13.75, below), a gloriously tender, meaty monster of a thigh cooked confit-style and served on the bone. “I debated whether to put it on the brunch menu, but it’s just too good to pass up,” Strait told us as she greeted her first brunch guests.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Take her advice — the succulent, well-seasoned meat melts in the mouth, and even if you don’t normally eat the skin, you’ll want to savor every crispy morsel. The chicken itself is reason to swoon, but add a perfectly poached egg, a tumble of sweet, toothsome butternut squash hash, and a generous drizzle of saffron aioli, and you have a dish you’ll be thinking about well into the evening. No ingredient is extraneous, not even the side of toast because it’s top-notch sourdough from Sun Street Breads and mops up the remnants of that egg with aplomb.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

If you prefer something a little lighter to start your day, select the shakshuka ($11.50, pictured top and above), a popular Israeli breakfast dish featuring eggs baked in a spicy tomato sauce. A different animal than the version we tried at Shish Cafe earlier this year, Strait’s feta-sprinkled shakshuka sauce offers more spice and a smoother consistency, with plenty of leftovers in which to swipe more of that sourdough toast. The small side salad breaks through the heat with the cooling crunch of lettuce and a preserved lemon and goat cheese dressing.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

A mix of traditional American (gluten-free buckwheat pancakes, yogurt parfait) and Mediterranean-influenced (harissa-topped lamb burger, vegetable- or meat-stuffed barikas) dishes round out the menu, along with a rotating variety of gluten-free muffins and scones — watch for the tender-crumbed scone studded with cheese and scallions ($3, above) — and breakfast cocktails. Comforting and craveable, the Foxy brunch is worth driving across town to enjoy. And luckily, you don’t have to wait until the 2013 farmers market season starts to try it.

Foxy Falafel
Middle Eastern fare in St. Paul

791 Raymond Ave
St. Paul, MN 55114
651.888.2255
OWNER / CHEF: Erica Strait
HOURS: Brunch served Sat-Sun 10am-2pm
Lunch / dinner served Mon-Sat 11am-9pm
BAR: Beer and wine
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Yes
ENTREE RANGE: $7-14 for brunch

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

 

Gray House Reviewed and Morning Roundup

Strong praise for Black Sheep Pizza, St. Paul pho talk, why servers hate to split checks,  Sioux Falls may have too much frozen yogurt, a taste of the Greek Grill & Cafe (and here’s our downtown Minneapolis Greek roundup), Hook’s cheese reintroduces its superb 15-year cheddar, City Pages reviews Gray House (here’s our take), and Foxy Falafel is launching brunch service.

Surly Wet Gets Lots of Love and October 2 Tweet Rodeo

The latest from Twitter: @zippsbeer acknowledges the popularity of @surlybrewing Wet, @FoxyFalafel gets nostalgic about her first business venture, @PunchCalhoun is hiring cashiers, and @FreshLocalShow is looking for bakers who want to talk pumpkin-infused sweets.

Bacon Shortage and Morning Roundup

Rick loves Foxy, it’s a bad year for apples, Cowboy Slims rides off into the sunset, a look at the Better Beer Society, beer as urban renewal engine, GMO corn helped save (some of) the harvest, bacon shortage? (What?!) Iggers on The Kenwood and Gray House, more on the Folliard-Phillips food hub, and photos from Farm in the City.

 

Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub, Little Tijuana, Tawakal Restaurant, and more

Readers: Win Heavy Table pint glasses

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.

August’s winner: Jane Cracraft of St. Louis Park

Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub (opens next week)

2724 E 38th St, Minneapolis | 612.328.1450

Ready for some fresh beer with your smoked meat and fish? Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub is set to open next week with six taps from Town Hall alum Jamie Robinson, a menu of sandwiches and plates from chef Bryce Strickler, and an all-around laid-back, neighborhood vibe.

The beers will include four regulars: the Big Jim IPA, Smokehouse Porter, Light Rail Pale Ale, and a honey wheat. Then there will be two initial seasonal beers: an American pale ale made entirely with Columbus hops, and a wild rice amber.

Couple those with a developing menu of sandwiches and small plates using Strickler’s smoked meats and fish, and it’s sounding pretty darn promising.

“Bryce has been testing some recipes. We got some samples from good suppliers, so he’s been testing out the smokers,” Robinson said. “He’s really happy with them, and then the food that’s been coming out is just amazing. He smoked a few turkeys just to get the smoke right, and he smoked some beef loins; those were incredible and will be for our roast beef sandwich.”

As often happens, Robinson and his co-owners, Strickler and Amy Robinson, have hit some snags, as the crew had originally hoped to open earlier this summer. Plus, the brewpub has had quite a buzz around it since its Kickstarter drive raised 75 investors who each paid $1,000 to get free beer for life.

“It feels really good to be brewing,” Robinson said. “That was what this was all about for me, was to get in here and start brewing, and now I’m really happy with my system because the beers are turning out fantastic.

“It’s actually really surreal. We’ve had so many ups and downs, like many restaurant owners opening from the ground up. I’m guessing it’s common to feel like it all could fall apart, and there were times we felt like that, but we believed in it and knew that we had to just keep pushing forward.”

And yes, along the way Robinson has heard from those 75 eager, interested investors.

“I would say 80-90 percent of investors live here in the neighborhood within walking or biking distance,” he said. “So those are the people who, when I’m brewing beer in here and it’s hot and I open the door, they’re peeking their heads in to ask about when will we open, how’s it all going, what are we brewing.”

Can’t wait to try the beer? Northbound will debut its Big Jim IPA and the wild rice amber at the Autumn Brew Review on Sept. 15. Once it clears inspections, Northbound Smokehouse will be open from 11 am-1 am Sunday-Thursday and 11am-2 am Friday-Saturday. Growler sales should begin a couple weeks after opening.

Little Tijuana (now open)

17 E 26th St, Minneapolis | 612.872.0578

Open again after a long remodeling hiatus, Little Tijuana is likely busy tonight. The decades-old late-night Mexican joint just spent months detailing its ongoing progress to a rabid Facebook following, which no doubt is enjoying the return of its Ameri-Mexican standards, burgers, and sandwiches and, this time, a full bar.

The place is still small, and the vibe is still relaxed, so Little T’s is probably just like you remember it, albeit “only” open until 2am.

Tawakal Restaurant (opens Sept. 21)

12609 Nicollet Ave, Burnsville | 952.500.8954

Serving East African cuisine, Tawakal Restaurant probably has Burnsville chowhounds excited for its Sept. 21 opening in the former Taqueria Hidalgo off Burnsville Parkway. Also exciting is that from noon to 3pm on opening day, Tawakal is giving free lunch to all customers — for dine-in or even takeout. So, if you’re looking for an excuse to hit up the Lakeville Fleet Farm, why not go Sept. 21 and get some free African food on the way?

NOW OPEN

  • The Kenwood, 2115 W 21st St, Minneapolis | 612.377.3695
  • Cafe Maude at Loring, 1612 Harmon Pl, Minneapolis | 612.767.9080
  • Murray’s, 26 S 6th St, Minneapolis. Open again after remodel. | 612.339.0909
  • Little Tijuana, 17 E 26th St, Minneapolis | 612.872.0578
  • Eat Shop Kitchen / Bar, 16605 County Rd 24, Plymouth | 763.270.5929
  • Yogurt Lab, 80 8th St S, Minneapolis (IDS Center skyway) | 612.886.3084
  • Copper Pot Indian Grill, 10 S 5th St, Minneapolis | 612.331.6677
  • Glory Days. 500 5th Ave NW, New Brighton. Revamped sports bar from :D-Spot owner. | 651.633.2226
  • Five Guys, 2300 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | 612.224.9161
Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

CLOSED / CLOSING:

COMING UP:
Minneapolis

  • Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub, 2724 E 38th St, Minneapolis. Opens next week. | 612.328.1450
  • The Gray House, 610 W Lake St, Minneapolis. Opens in September.
  • Nightingale, 2551 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens in September.
  • Bar Louie, 1348 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis. Opens in September.
  • Northgate Brewing, 3134 California St NE, Minneapolis. Opens for growler sales in October. | 612.234.1056
  • Sabbai Cuisine, 920 E Lake St, Minneapolis (Midtown Global Market) | 952.233.5662
  • Well Seasoned, 920 E Lake St, Minneapolis (Midtown Global Market) | 612.886.2489
  • Azia Market Bar & Restaurant, 2550 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.813.1200
  • Smack Shack, Washington Ave N and 6th Ave N, Minneapolis.
  • The Belmore, 25 4th St N, Minneapolis. Opens this fall.
  • Blue Door Pub, 3448 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens this fall.
  • Republic, 3001 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis. Opens late fall.
  • The Lynn on Bryant, 50th St and Bryant Ave, Minneapolis. Opens this fall.
  • New Bohemia, 233 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis
  • Tangiers Eatery and Lounge, 116 First Ave N, Minneapolis.
  • Dangerous Man Brewing, 1300 2nd St NE, Minneapolis | 612.209.2626
  • The Original Just Turkey Restaurant, 3758 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Yogurt Lab, 5007 France Ave S, Minneapolis; 309 SE Oak St, Minneapolis
  • Rincon 38, 3801 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.408.7063
  • Fitger’s Brewhouse, 107 3rd Ave N, Minneapolis. Opens late 2012.
  • Burch, 1942 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis. Isaac Becker’s planned steakhouse in old Burch Pharmacy; opens in late 2012 / early 2013.
  • World Street Kitchen, 2743 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens late 2012.
  • 612 Brew taproom, 945 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis. Opens late 2012.
  • Union, 733 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis. Opens in November.
  • Origami, 1352 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis. Moving from Minnetonka location; opens Dec. 1.
  • Unnamed Kim Bartmann restaurant, 1014 E 38th St, Minneapolis
  • Mill City Cafe, NE Minneapolis. Still searching for new location.
  • Rocky and Shem’s Ice Cream Shoppe, 56th St and Chicago Ave, Minneapolis. Opens late 2012 / early 2013.
  • Sandcastle, Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis. Doug Flicker’s concessionaire restaurant at the lake. Opens spring 2013.

St. Paul

  • Summit Brewing Taproom, 910 Montreal Cir, St. Paul. Opens late September. | 651.265.7800
  • Louis, 211 7th St W, St. Paul. Cossetta’s market opening new rooftop restaurant; opens in mid-October. | 651.222.3476
  • French Hen, 518 Selby Ave, St. Paul. Opens this fall.
  • Bullpen Saloon, 395 Robert St N, St. Paul. Opens this fall. | 651.335.7503
  • Sakana Sushi & Asian Bistro, 740 Cleveland Ave S, St. Paul

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.

Foxy Falafel, Summit Brewing Taproom, Sandcastle, and more

Readers: Win Heavy Table pint glasses

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.

July’s winner: Mike Haight of Minneapolis

Kate Sommers/Heavy Table

Foxy Falafel (now open)

791 Raymond Ave, St. Paul | 651.243.0813

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Erica Strait’s Foxy Falafel was just that nifty little stand at the Kingfield and Mill City Farmers Markets, where you could get a top-notch falafel or a bike-powered smoothie.

Then, earlier this year, Strait debuted a Foxy Falafel food truck, which roams St. Paul during the week and markets on weekends.

Now, she’s taken over the former Caribe space off University Ave in St. Paul and made it a Foxy Falafel restaurant, serving the same food truck / farmers market menu of regular, beet, and curry falafel as well as her array of homemade pickles. Strait will expand the menu though, with merguez meatballs, turkey shawarma, and chicken gyros, as well as salads and daily specials. Drinks will include house-made sodas, and a wine and beer license is on the way.

“The brick and mortar opportunity arose, and I had to jump on it,” Strait said. “I figured if I don’t do it now, then when will I?”

Strait is dedicated to sourcing locally — her food truck lists the farmers whose products she’s currently using — and plans to have some farm dinners later this summer.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Summit Brewing Taproom (opens in September)

910 Montreal Circle, St. Paul | 651.265.7800

All current Summit beers including Unchained series and special casks will be available at the new Summit Brewing Taproom when it opens in September. The goal for the taproom, which will be open initially from 3 to 8 p.m. on Fridays, is to start small and build a solid base of customers, according to Summit marketing coordinator Carey Matthews.

“We certainly could make more money being open more than one night a week, but we wanted to take our time, continue to focus on our primary business of making beer, and make sure that the current use of our space as a community room wouldn’t go away,” she said.

A rotating roster of food trucks will be at the taproom for food. Growlers aren’t available because of off-sale laws, which is a bummer because they would be a way to take home draft-only Summit Oatmeal Stout.

“We’ll continue to grow as our business allows, including more special events and maybe someday more taproom hours,” Matthews said. “Simply put, our motivation was to welcome more people into our house.”

Sandcastle (opens spring 2013)

Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis.

Chef Doug Flicker, who already operates the small Minneapolis restaurant Piccolo, has been awarded the right to be the new concessionaire at Lake Nokomis. The concept, Sandcastle, was developed by Flicker and his wife, Amy Greeley, and should open next spring.

Open 9am to 9pm April 15-Oct. 15, Sandcastle will serve food, ice cream, wine, and beer. The proposed menu includes snacks like cheese curds, hush puppies, shrimp ceviche, and chicken wings, and main dishes like a BLT, hot dogs, fish tacos, wraps, and fry bread. The ice cream will be homemade soft-serve, too. Orders will be placed at a window and then picked up via a buzzer system, which will be nice during peak times.

“Their pitch was perfect,” said Steffanie Musich, Friends of Lake Nokomis president. “It touched upon all the criteria we were looking for: healthy choices, diverse menu, fresh ingredients, low waste, environmentally responsible remodeling of the building and an obvious commitment to being a partner of the park. I can’t wait until April.”

The whole shebang will likely be approved by the park board at its Sept. 19 meeting, making the arrangement official. And as an example of Minneapolis’ food might, Flicker’s lake concession proposal was chosen over other finalists Kim Bartmann (Nokomis Paddle House) and Steven Brown and Philip Becht (Frank’n’Stein’s Hot Dog House). Can we please squeeze those in somewhere, park board?

NOW OPEN

A Trip to Four Daughters and Morning Roundup

Wisconsin’s dairy goat industry takes a pounding from this year’s drought, East-Lake ponders the insane number of new local breweries, Rachel gently pans Cakedy candy bars (here’s our assessment), a visit to Four Daughters Vineyard (here’s our visit and review), WACSO visits the newly opened Foxy Falafel, naam prik ong from the Minnesota Garlic Festival, thoughts on what makes a great tomato, thoughts on the food and odors available on Loring Pasta Bar’s rooftop patio, a first look at Northgate Brewing Co., in depth with the Simply Steve’s food truck, a taste of Cut Throat from Finch’s Beer of Chicago, Summit breaks down the details of a zero-waste event, and some love for Furthermore beer at a Great Taste of the Midwest preview party (here’s our brewery profile of Furthermore).

Preview of Foxy Falafel and July 31 Tweet Rodeo

The latest from Twitter: @gaigaithai is looking for local radicchio and @FoxyFalafel is previewing the menu for her new restaurant (which opens this Friday!) all week.

Foxy Falafel Hopes to Open in August and July 24 Tweet Rodeo

The latest from Twitter: The grand opening for @FoxyFalafel’s brick-and-mortar shop is slated for August 3, @RickNelsonStrib admires @ButcherandBoar’s blooming exterior mural, and @dunnbroscoffees joins @WCoffeeResearch.

Foxy Falafel Moves Into the Former Caribe and Morning Roundup

A flood and hailstorm devastates Laughing Loon Farm, an long-form interview with Wisconsin master cheesemaker Kerry Henning, tasting notes for Dave’s BrewFarm Hibiscus Lager, details on the newly opened downtown Lunds, farm-to-table chef Scott Pampuch departs for Milwaukee to work for a national hotel management company (here’s our interview with team behind the post-Pampuch Corner Table), and Foxy Falafel is moving from street food to bricks and mortar in the old Caribe space.