The Tap Recalls 2014’s Top Openings and Closings

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In this week’s Tap, we look at 2014’s most notable openings and closings.

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 / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

2014: Top Five Openings

The designation of “opening of the year” for 2014 goes not to a single establishment, but to a bubbling aggregate. Spurred by the liberalization of state and local laws, the growth of taprooms and distilleries has been meteoric, and it shows no sign of slowing down. There has been a slew of both: everything from the grand new Surly facility to Northgate, Urban Growler, Tin Whiskers, Bauhaus, EastLake, Du Nord Craft Spirits, 11 Wells Spirits, Millers and Saints, Fair State, and more. Cocktail-room openings will be enlivening the early part of 2015, as will discussions of whether all the new beer and spirits flooding the market truly deserve the designation “craft.”

Kyatchi sushi
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The general vicinity of Nicollet and 38th was white hot in 2014. The post-fire Blackbird pioneered the new wave a few years ago; Five Watt Coffee, Kyatchi (above), and (soon) Nighthawks comprise the strong second wave. Up the street, the opening of Hola Arepa is part and parcel of the boom. Everything opening is smart, vibrant, and fiercely interested in good flavor, making Nicollet and 38th one of the area’s most interesting intersections.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Meanwhile, in the suburbs and north of downtown St. Paul, all hell is breaking loose. The Travail reopening and Rookery opening has electrified the west, Lyn65 brought chic bar food and mixological heat to the south, and in Payne Phalen the opening of Tongue in Cheek and Cook St. Paul has built on the already considerable buzz of Ward 6 and Strip Club Meat and Fish.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Lovers of classical dining and great wine can’t have missed the signal high-end opening of the year: Austro-Hungarian-inspired Brasserie Zentral, Foreign Legion Wine Bar, and Cafe Zentral. Brasserie Zentral was one of the culinary highpoints in 2014. Equally significant and endlessly celebrated was the debut of Spoon and Stable in the North Loop.

There seems to be more that changed than stayed the same in the Seward neighborhood in 2014. The Birchwood and Tracy’s both went through major overhauls and reboots. Verdant Tea began producing and bottling root beer and kombucha, added dinner service, and then promptly decamped for new digs. Seward Co-op will be opening a second location (as will the Wedge. Times are good for co-ops.) And this just in: The Himalayan is moving down to the old Kong’s spot at 2910 E Lake St.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

2014: Top Five Closings

The closing of the year award must go to Nye’s Polonaise Room, despite the lack of a specific death date. A palace of kitsch, good cheer, live music, and somewhat overpriced Eastern European food, Nye’s has been a perennial fixture of national lists celebrating the country’s best bars.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Stock & Badge restaurant group (Victory 44, Rustica, and Dogwood Coffee) woke up to a reasonably harsh reality this year as Victory 44 pulled out, and its projects closed down: Parka in Longfellow (above) became a Dogwood coffee bar; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts saw Grain Stack and Half Pint change over to outposts of the Agra Culture chain.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

It’s always sad to see a plucky chef-driven place go down, but The Gray House was able to squeeze a couple of good years out of its Uptown location. Chef Ian Gray landed on his feet — his Curious Goat food truck can often be found at Sociable Cider Werks, dispensing lamb nachos and goat cheese curds with aplomb. The shuttering of The Lynn on Bryant was similarly dispiriting. We enjoyed some memorable meals there, including one of the best desserts (a rustic fruit tart, above) we’ve had in the area.

Boneyard waffles and chickenBoneYard, Kaskaid’s attempted mash-up of southern food and grating electronic dance music for the Uptown in-crowd, is biting the dust and will leave few mourners behind. For the record: as forced as the concept felt, we liked some of the food. A short way up Hennepin Avenue, the now-closed Rye served delicatessen food rather than BBQ, but it had similar problems trying to straddle genre food with general purpose trendiness.

Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch
Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch

Visitors to Hibbing don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to places serving modern food that reflects the surroundings, and with the closing this year of the Bob-Dylan-themed Zimmy’s, we put the number at zero, although we’d welcome a correction on that front. We recall a Fraboni’s porketta sandwich that we ate at Zimmy’s (above) with a great deal of unvarnished pleasure.

NOW OPEN

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

CLOSED / CLOSING:

Di Noko's Pizzeria
Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table
    • DiNoko’s Pizza (possibly re-opening in South Minneapolis) | Our review
    • Himalayan (moving to 2910 E Lake St, former Kong’s) | Our lunch buffet visit
Boneyard chicken and waffles
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
  • BoneYard | Our review
  • Heartland Market (closing New Year’s Day, reopening April 2015)
  • Nye’s Polanaise Room (closing 2015)
  • Friar Tuck’s in Forest Lake
  • Sontes in Rochester (closing New Year’s Day)
  • Michael’s restaurant in Rochester (closing New Year’s Day)
  • Citizen Cafe
  • Lynden’s Soda Fountain (closed until April 21, 2015)
  • Terra Waconia (closing end of February 2015)

COMING UP:

Minneapolis

  • Salsa a La Salsa, 2481 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis | 2015

    Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
    Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
  • Peace Coffee, Capella Tower | January 2015
  • Il Foro, City Center, Minneapolis | Spring 2015

    Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
    Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
  • Du Nord Craft Spirits sample room, 2610 E 32nd St, Minneapolis | January 2015
  • The Wedge Table, 2412 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis | Jan. 19, 2015
  • Nighthawks, 3753 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Early 2015
  • Seward Co-op Friendship Store, 317 38th St E | Summer 2015
  • Erick Harcey project TBD, 4312 Upton Ave, Minneapolis | Feb. 2015
  • 56 Brewing, 3134 California St NE, Minneapolis | Spring 2015Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
  • Prairie Dogs, 610 West Lake St, Minneapolis | Early 2015
  • Urban Forage Winery and Cider House, East Lake St, Minneapolis | Fall 2015
  • Lost Falls Distillery, 1915 E 22nd St, Minneapolis | Early 2015
  • Bradstreet Neighborhood Crafthouse, 1930 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | Early 2015
  • The Herbivorous Butcher, Minneapolis | 2015
  • Pizzeria Lola concept TBD, 165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis | 2015
  • Vellee Deli, Baker Center at 30 S 7th St, Minneapolis | Early 2015
  • Sassy Spoon, 5011 34th Ave S, Minneapolis | January 2015
  • Corner Table project: Revival mid-South / fried chicken restaurant | 2015

    Jeremy Banks
    Jeremy Banks
  • Betty Danger’s Country Club, 2501 Marshall St, Minneapolis | Dec. 26, 2014
  • The Bachelor Farmer Cafe Project To Be Named, 200 N 1st St, Minneapolis | 2015

St. Paul

Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond

  • The King and I Thai (reopening), 760 Highway 110, Mendota Heights | 2015

    Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
    Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
  • New Bohemia, 8040 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley | 2015
  • Grand Rounds Brewing Company, 4 Third Street SW, Rochester | 2015
  • Wicked Wort Brewing Co., 4165-4175 W Broadway, Robbinsdale | Fall 2015
  • Belle Vinez Winery, River Falls, WI | 2015
  • Skaalvenn, 8601 73rd Ave N, Suite 28, Brooklyn Park | Awaiting licensing approvals
  • Voyageur Brewing Co., 233 W Hwy 61, Grand Marais | Early 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.

By 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.