Ambitious Cactus at Bradstreet Neighborhood Craftshouse

Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table
Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table

Bradstreet Craftshouse, the cocktail haven late of downtown Minneapolis, has completed its migration to Lowry Hill. The new location, now with “Neighborhood” in its name, opened quietly two weeks ago.

A recent, sudden flurry of construction ended a year-plus of dormancy for the space and fully exorcised the ghosts of Rye Deli from Hennepin Avenue. The new interior is moody, sleek and versatile: The bar is flanked by a row of cozy, high-backed booths. A long row of tables morphs into a plush lounge. There are berries in cocktail glasses at the bar, and the fries are crisp and dusted with togarashi. The patio faces out toward the cityscape.

Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table
Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table

And the cocktails are still top notch. Bar manager Jennifer Boutell has taken the original Bradstreet feel and loosened its tie. She’s built an engrossing drink list of classics spun with the right dose of whimsy, helpfully arranged by principal spirit. Like the food menu, the drink menu contains elements of both Japanese and Moorish cuisine (a nod to the design legacy of John Scott Bradstreet). A shishito pepper here, some Moroccan spice there. The Shoji Squares, for example, pairs green-tea-steeped Prairie Vodka with a pistachio syrup for an invigorating vodka sour.

We also dig the signature Bradstreet cocktail, a whiskey sour with jasmine and ginger syrups adding the spice to keep the sweetness in check. But the drink you’ll find in our hands on the patio all summer long is the The Ambitious Cactus, a remix of the strawberry margarita.

Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table
Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table

“A lot of people who order tequila are looking for something a little spicy, too,” says Boutell. “Honey and tequila go really well together, and then, I thought of cinnamon and strawberry — the Fee’s bitters are very cinnamon-y. And the vinegar in Tabasco rounds everything out and gives it a little background heat.”

And good news for the night owls of Uptown: $6 Hemingway daiquiris and sangrias (and more), plus a menu of cheap bites from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily.

Ambitious Cactus
1 muddled strawberry
2 ounces blanco tequila (Bradstreet uses Lunazul)
¾ ounce honey syrup (see note)
¾ ounce fresh lemon-lime juice
2-3 dashes Tabasco
2-3 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a lowball glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a strawberry.

Note: For honey syrup, mix equal parts honey and boiling water until smooth. Let cool.

Bradstreet Neighborhood Craftshouse, 1930 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55403; 612.871.1200

Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table
Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table

Deconstructing Rye Deli, Local Breweries Win at World Beer Cup, and More

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors
Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

Heavy Table is named the readers’ choice for Best Blog over at City Pages for the fifth year running. Rick interviews Rye Deli owner David Weinstein about the restaurant’s closure and TC Jewfolk interviews Rye critic Andrew Zimmern. (Here are our takes on Rye: a sunny initial review and an attempt to interpret all the critical furor, both positive and negative.) Lake Superior Flavors is featured on MPR (our own Becca Dilley files a narrated slideshow), on The Current, and in the Star Tribune. Well Fed Guide to Life heads out to Digby’s. A number of Minnesota breweries did well at the World Beer Cup. And Irony or Mayo does a fish fry and old fashioned tour on the street I (practically) grew up on: Monroe Street in Madison.

Charcuterie Rising and Morning Roundup

A look at the evolution of local charcuterie, a new Madison-area place called the Cookhouse, Murray’s gets a remodel, Rick does a culinary survey of the Midtown Global Market, a visit to Rye Deli (here’s our analysis), a guide to local brewpubs, Indeed Brewing Company announces its taproom opening, and tasting notes for Dave’s BrewFarm Simcoe Single Hop Saison.

Gluten-Free Waffle Cones and July 26 Tweet Rodeo

The latest from Twitter: Thrive’s (@rovingdish) gluten-free waffle cones are available at Bread & Pickle, @RyeDelis exterior mural is coming to life, and @elburritomn is now open at @MidtownGlobal.

Foxy Falafel’s Food Truck Debut and June 7 Tweet Rodeo

The latest from Twitter: @Peace_Coffee is giving away free cups of coffee to those who bike or walk to work today, @RyeDeli baked off some baby black and white cookies, and @FoxyFalafel is taking Roxy the food truck out to Mears Park for the first time today.

Ice Cube Drinks Peace Coffee and April 20 Tweet Rodeo

The latest from Twitter: @RyeDeli is growing some of their ingredients, rapper Ice Cube likes to guzzle @Peace_Coffee, and @SoleraChef wishes @RedStagNE chef Jason Blaire bon voyage.

Rye Deli’s Seder Menu and March 30 Tweet Rodeo

The latest from Twitter: On April 14 @SalutGrand will start serving brunch on Saturdays, @RyeDeli has created a special Seder menu, @ModernCafeMpls rocks to Loverboy while making sausage, and @zippsbeer is selling a limited amount of @SierraNevada Hoptimum.

Much Ado About Rye Deli

Kate N.G. Sommers / Heavy Table

If you’re familiar with the saying “Two Jews, three opinions,” it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there hasn’t been a consensus — among all deli lovers, not just Jewish ones — on Rye Deli in Minneapolis since it opened in November. First, we liked it. Then Andrew Zimmern hated it. Shefzilla backed him up. Chowhound went bananas. Then City Pages gave it a thumbs up, Dara liked it, but not before calling an early meal “an epic disaster,” and Rick chimed in with his approval. So what’s a girl supposed to believe around here?

Heavy Table editor James Norton and I pondered this question over dinner at the Lowry Hill restaurant last week as we picked through sandwiches and slurped down a chocolate egg cream and lemon soda. In between bites of corned beef and potato knish, we came to four main conclusions, which we present below:

1. Rye was a victim of its own hype.

I’m not sure if it was Rye’s ownership and management that set the bar so high or the eager deli hounds who stalked the Hennepin Avenue space to make sure they entered as soon as the open sign popped up, but the talk around town was that Rye was the Second Coming of Deli. I reviewed the initial press release we received back in October, and it made fairly modest claims, calling Rye “a moderately priced delicatessen and bar serving Jewish and East European style foods modernized for contemporary tastes” without much of the hyperbole we often see in these releases. But somehow the hype grew with such intensity that swarms hit up the deli in its first few weeks expecting a pastrami (aka “smoked meat”) sandwich that would instantly export them to the Lower East Side of New York. And nope, Rye’s food just isn’t at that level because…

Kate N.G. Sommers / Heavy Table

2. The meat is drastically underseasoned.

My first dish at Rye was the smoked meat hash, and it was so lacking in seasoning that I dumped half the contents of the salt shaker onto the potato-pepper-meat jumble. Lack of salt usually isn’t the problem with cured meats — in fact, it’s more often the opposite. But after tasting the corned beef, smoked meat, chopped liver, and brisket, James and I agreed. The meats’ texture and tenderness were on point, but when the dominant flavor coming through upon biting into James’ Reason for Rye sandwich was the rye bread and not the meat, there’s a problem. It wasn’t that the ingredients in and of themselves were bad. We felt like they were made from good quality stuff. It’s just that there wasn’t much oomph, and there was nothing in that sandwich — or any of the other meat dishes we tried — that made us crave it.

3. There’s no excuse for a bad chocolate egg cream — or erratic service.

A chocolate egg cream is comprised of three ingredients: milk, chocolate syrup, and soda water. When those ingredients are blended in the proper ratio, it’s creamy, chocolately bliss. When they’re not, it’s fizzy, watered-down chocolate milk. Unfortunately, that’s what we got at Rye.

That egg cream is an apt metaphor for the service we’ve received at Rye, too. At successful restaurants, everyone, from the cashier to the bartender to the busser, provides consistent, excellent service. But at Rye, we’ve received a mix — friendly counter service but gruff table service, or vice versa. On a previous visit, an employee handed one of us a to-go box before lunch was finished — in a half-empty restaurant. To win some true raves, Rye needs consistency in this area — and especially for those beloved egg creams.

Kate N.G. Sommers / Heavy Table

4. The bakery is for real.

As in real good. The rugelach, black and white cookies, and chocolate babka have been the highlights of our meals at Rye. In particular, the rugelach demonstrated a flakiness and filling-to-pastry ratio that made it on par with some of the best New York versions we’ve tried, and the frosting on the black and white cookies is out of this world. The babka would be better served if it were sliced to order so the pieces wouldn’t dry out, but the yeasty, chocolately flavor hits all the right notes. The dough encompassing the filling of the potato knish exhibited similar skill — golden, toothsome, and not too thick. The underseasoned filling paled in comparison to the delicate crust. Rye better keep its pastry chef because that’s what will keep us coming back — especially with rugelach priced at 80 cents each.

So to Rye or not to Rye? Here’s the deal: Go in with the modest expectations you would have at Mort’s, Cecil’s, or any other local deli. You may find a dish — or cookie — you love, or you could be seriously underwhelmed. This isn’t the kick-ass deli many of us prayed for, but after so many years of wishful thinking, will the Twin Cities ever get a deli that lives up to our idealized standard? I’m not betting on it.

Rye Deli, 1930 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403; 612.871.1200

 

Rye Deli Judged Again and Morning Roundup

How a woman named Sarah Kowal is working to raise money to found WeatherVane Creamery, a River Falls, WI-based “Wisconsin-only specialty shop and café featuring farmstead, artisan and specialty cheeses”; winter-grown Minnesota sprouts from Pyramid Sprouters; reviews of Baldy’s BBQ in Lakeville and Zamboni’s Pizza in St. Paul; a new WACSO sketch (hangin’ at Starbucks in Minneapolis); Rick weighs in on the controversial Rye Deli; and how to make a Wisconsin (i.e. brandy) Old Fashioned.

Dr. Chocolate’s Chocolate Chateau and Morning Roundup

A look at the craft brews of Green Bay; WCCO makes a case for Detello’s in Eden Prairie as the Twin Cities’ best pizza place; Rick rounds up local restaurants that will make holiday entertaining a little easier, does a Q&A with Trout Caviar author Brett Laidlaw (here’s ours) and presents a roundup of winter farmers markets; Iggers reviews Rye Deli; a profile of Dunbarton Blue cheese; Fargo-Moorhead’s Pizza Nico and Samurai reviewed; and, finally, is Stephanie Match yankin’ us by reporting that “Dr. Chocolate’s Chocolate Chateau wants to be a four story business that includes an eatery, gift shop, museum, and event center all dedicated to chocolate”? I certainly hope not. They do at least appear to have a logo, albeit one designed for $295. And they’re claiming to be the world’s largest gourmet chocolate store, which seems sort of cheeky at this point.

Eat Street Social, Rye Delicatessen & Bar, Pig & Fiddle 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.

October’s winner: Kari Anderson of Minneapolis

Eat Street Social (opens this fall)

14 W 26th St, Minneapolis

Northeast Social owners Joe Wagner and Sam Bonin are coming to Nicollet Avenue this fall with Eat Street Social, a new bar and restaurant in the former Tacos Morelos space that hopes to replicate the laid-back yet elegant vibe and quality food, wine, and beer of their first restaurant.

Eat Street Social will also have liquor, and Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz of Bittercube bitters are leading the cocktail program. Kosevich is well-known locally as the former bartending force at the Town Talk Diner, and Koplowitz cut his teeth at Chicago cocktail den Violet Hour. These guys live to make unique, delicious cocktails, and their hiring means Wagner and Bonin are serious about giving Eat Street Social a bar that means business.

“I’d say [Kosevich] is right up there, one or two with the top bartenders in town,” Wagner said. “And so we’ll be making our own tonics, of course we’ll be using Bittercube bitters. Most of the big stuff for the cocktails will be made in-house.

“The bar that we designed is going to be really neat. We’re using a sushi cooler for a lot of the ingredients to stay fresh. Kind of like food, you want to use the freshest ingredients. So it will be a display area where you can really watch the whole process.”

Geoff Little will be executive chef at both locations and design the menu at Eat Street, so the food will stick close to what Northeast Social already does: an approachable yet thoughtful array of well-crafted small plates, salads, sandwiches, and entrees. But Eat Street will be different in ways other than the cocktails, as the larger dining room will seat around 100 and there will be live music a few nights a week, as well as a banquet space (formerly Azia’s Caterpillar Room). It will also have an old-fashioned soda fountain, with housemade syrups and old-school soft drinks like raspberry sodas, tonics, and egg creams.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

“We can’t wait for it to open because we have a lot to show,” Kosevich (above) said. “I haven’t made drinks in this city for over two years. Since I left Minneapolis, since I left the Town Talk, we basically have been working Bittercube and designing cocktails all over the Midwest. So this is really the first time that we get to showcase that work, the culmination of two years of hard work, here in Minneapolis.”

Kosevich and Koplowitz, who essentially have been given free rein to create their menu, have some strong opinions about what makes for tasty, interesting liquor. One conversation with these guys, and you know the bar at Eat Street Social is not going to be typical.

“Most back bars you go in and it’s all kind of things that everyone knows and everyone’s heard of, some big factory distilleries,” Koplowitz said. “One thing that we’re really excited about with this project is to have a nice, broad spirits list with … a lot of things that are a little more esoteric and unique than the Johnnie Walkers of the world.”

“People are going to order something, and we may not have it,” Kosevich said, “because we’re showcasing something more unique that’s similar, comparable, or contrasting, but through the in-depth education aspect of our spirit program [bartenders] will be able to direct people in the right way, in the right direction that they want to go. Guests leave in a more positive way when they’ve been given something new, something fresh.”

“One classic example would be rather than having Jack Daniels, have George Dickel, which is another Tennessee whiskey that is really nice,” Koplowitz said. “It’s not craft, it’s still a really big company, but showcasing something that’s been around a long time and has been somewhat forgotten.”

But it’s not all about drinks. Wagner said he and Bonin’s goal for Eat Street Social was to create a place for real drinks, yes, but also solid food and cool vibes for the creative, funky Whittier neighborhood. The two moved to the neighborhood from Rochester together when they were 18 and never lost their love for the area.

“With MCAD being over there, there’s a lot of creative young people that gives a lot of energy to it,” Wagner said. “There’s a lot of fantastic food on Eat Street. We’ll bring kind of a new feeling and operate something that isn’t really in that area right now.

“There’s no real bars in that neighborhood. I mean, Uptown, even, there’s nothing really. The Uptown Bar was cool back in the day, but it’s gone. There’s no real bars to kind of replace it.”

Eat Street Social is shooting for a late fall opening.

Rye Delicatessen & Bar (opens this month)

1930 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis | ryedeli.com

Lowry Hill is getting a huge jolt of all-day food and cocktails. First came The Lowry and now it’s Rye Delicatessen & Bar, set to open in the former Auriga space on Hennepin.

Taste of TC Originals and the Morning Roundup

The Daily Planet profiles the owners of the future Rye Deli — billed as Jewish comfort food, SG&T recruits for another crop mob at Riverbend Farm this weekend, some pretty sweet cooking utensil temporary tattoos, Esquire chats with local celebrity bartender Johnny Michaels, and a few tickets remain for the Taste of the Twin Cities Originals event tomorrow night.