The Tap: On the Value of Listening, Plus Restaurant Openings

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This week in the Tap: Some thoughts on long-form interviews, 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 editor@heavytable.com.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

ON THE VALUE OF LISTENING

If you want to insult a journalist, suggest that he or she is a “mere stenographer.” It implies that the reporter merely records and transcribes speech before dumping it upon the reader, unfiltered, unanalyzed, and uncontextualized. This has become a well-known axiom in the journalism world, and it’s accepted at face value. Good journalism is thought to consist of mining the exact right words or the exact right sound bite and printing that alone.

Long paragraphs are a sign that you’re doing it wrong, and only a fool would tape record and transcribe when you can instead just get the money quotes you need on a pad of paper, in shorthand. That’s how the pros do it.

Allow me to retort. I recently spent eight hours at the Lakewinds Food Co-op in Richfield conducting Heavy Table’s first listening session, a series of 15 interviews with farmers, artisans, brewers, and coffee roasters that will give birth to as many (or more than that many) stories in this online magazine.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

I’m transcribing all eight hours, word for word, a job that will likely take 20-30 hours when all is said and done. It’s a taxing job, and one that many who cover local food would argue is a waste of time. But here is what’s gained:

1. There is no better way to get the essence of someone’s story than to record it, listen to it again, and type it with your own hands. You have to catch the transitions, and the jargon, and the overall sweep of the argument.

2. Sometimes what you thought you heard the first time is simply wrong. You missed a qualifying clause or a way that the context of the answer altered the answer itself. A second listening will illuminate that.

3. When the final stories from this session come out on the Heavy Table, readers can read people’s complete and accurate thoughts, in full paragraphs. Yes, the journalist should understand a subject’s context and plumb the content for verifiable truth. But after that, sometimes the best thing a writer can do is find an interesting person, let them tell a story, and get out of the way. Trust that your subjects are interesting people, and let them speak.

Becca Dilley and I took this sort of oral history approach to the Wisconsin cheese industry with our books Lake Superior Flavors and The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin. It’s our favorite way to work, and it’s a way to paint a big yet subtle picture. On a lesser scale, we hope the Listening Session series plays out the same way, with Minnesota makers occupying the spotlight. — James Norton

NOW OPEN

Jamie Malone at Sea Change

Peter Sieve & Justin Blair / Heavy Table

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tenant4300 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.

CLOSED / CLOSING:

WACSO / Heavy Table

WACSO / Heavy Table

  • Arnellia’s (closed after 25 years; we had a blast at Arnellia’s during our Green Line Checklist crawl).
  • Brewer’s Table at Surly (in early August)
  • Bradstreet Crafthouse (reopening summer of 2018 at the InterContinental Minneapolis-St Paul Airport Hotel).
  • Trotter’s (changed owners, re-opening as Tillie’s Farmhouse [see below]).
  • Tanpopo (one of our favorite spots; closed just as the promising Kado no Mise and Kaiseki Furukawa come online. Sunrise, sunset).
  • Jerusalem’s (building to be demolished; closing end of August).
  • Sidhe Brewing (reopening as Culhane Brewing in Lowertown, St. Paul).
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

  • The Strip Club Meat and Fish (closing July 1).
  • Evergreen (closing in June).
  • Sunrise Inn (The venerable 3.2 bar will reopen as Bull’s Horn Food and Drink under the aegis of Doug Flicker).

COMING UP:

Minneapolis

  • Popol Vuh and Central | Fall | A two-restaurants-in-one (ala Birdie and Nighthawks) high concept / street food with a Mexican emphasis from the team behind the successful Lyn65 in Richfield.
  • NOLO’s Kitchen and Bar and The Basement Bar, 515 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis | September
  • Bardo, 222 E Hennepin Ave Minneapolis | Summer | A new “modern American bistro” in the old Rachel’s spot in Northeast, with chef/owner Remy Pettus.
  • The Original 42nd, 1839 E 42nd St, Minneapolis | Summer | Sandwich shop from Lenny Russo proteges in the original Colossal Cafe location.
  • Hai Hai, 2121 University Ave NE, Minneapolis | Early Fall | New Southeast Asian restaurant by the team behind Hola Arepa at the former Double Deuce.
  • The Cove, 1320 5th St SE, Minneapolis | Soon? | Can poke succeed where crudo failed? Let’s find out.
  • Rebel Donut Bar, 1226 2nd St NE, Minneapolis | Soon | More action within the “fancy doughnut” sphere, but in this case miniaturized.
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

St. Paul

Nick Fay / Heavy Table

Nick Fay / Heavy Table

  • Barrel Theory Beer Company, 248 E 7th St, St. Paul | 2017 | As per the Growler: “A partnership between Surly Brewing Company’s former director of technology Brett Splinter, former Surly brewer Timmy Johnson, and CPA Todd Tibesar.” Our preview is here.
  • Eureka Compass Vegan Food, 629 Aldine St, St. Paul | Summer | Will vegan croissants become a thing? Stay tuned.
  • Funky Grits, 805 E 38th St, Minneapolis | Late Summer | A soul food spot in the home of the short-lived Hell’s Chicken and Fish.
  • Gray Duck Tavern, 345 Wabasha St, St. Paul | Soon
  • Delicata, 1341 Pascal St, St. Paul | Summer | A pizzeria and gelateria by Matty O’Reilly, hopefully evoking the glory days of Fat Lorenzo’s.
  • Waldmann Brewery and Wurstery, 445 Smith Ave, St. Paul | September | “A craft brewery specializing in German lagers and a wurstery offering a variety of house-made sausages.”
  • 12welve Eyes Brewing, 141 E 4th St, St. Paul | Summer | Opening in the Pioneer Endicott Building.
  • Keg and Case revitalization of the Schmidt Brewery, 928 W 7th St, St. Paul | Summer 2017 | Featuring restaurants by the teams behind Corner Table, Hola Arepa, and Five Watt, plus Sweet Science ice cream.
  • Tillie’s Farmhouse, 232 Cleveland Ave N, St. Paul | Summer | Seasonal cuisine, some of it with a Scandinavian influence — with ingredients from local farms — in the former Trotter’s Cafe. Trotter’s menu remains until the summer reopening.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

  • 11 Wells, Millwright Cocktail Room, Historic Hamm’s Brewery, St. Paul | Postponed to “at least 2018” | Multi-state distribution is keeping them busy.

Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond

  • Back Channel Brewing Collective, 4787 Shoreline Drive, Spring Park | Summer
  • Portillo’s, 8450 Hudson Rd, Woodbury | July 11 | First Minnesota outpost of the famous Chicago hot dog empire.
  • B-52 Burgers and Brew (expansion), 5639 Bishop Ave, Inver Grove Heights  | June | Opening a new rooftop patio with full bar.
  • Deconstructed, 705 Century Ave N, Suite B, Maplewood | Soon | A new pasta and pho spot by the owner of :D-Spot.
  • Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery (formerly Oude Oak) Midway Township | 2017 | Construction on this new brewery just south of Duluth is under way.

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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2 Comments

  1. todd 05/31/2017

    Just saw this at The Downtown Journal:

    Travail BBQ

    816 Lowry Ave. NE

    Travail Restaurant & Amusements

    The team behind Travail Kitchen & Amusements is moving forward with plans for a tiny barbecue joint in Northeast Minneapolis. The City Planning Commission approved via consent a rezoning application from Kale Thome at its May 22 meeting. The group is planning to convert a commercial building on Lowry Avenue between Quincy and Jackson streets that has been vacant for more than 20 years into a takeout barbecue restaurant focusing on classic Kansas City-style barbecue, according to the plans. James Winberg, co-owner of Travail, owns the building. The project remains unnamed though the application notes two related LLCs named Nectar and Soul Brothers.

  2. todd 05/31/2017

    Sad news in the Star Trib…..WTF???

    Brewer’s Table, Surly Brewing Co.’s high-end, beer-focused restaurant, will close in early August. Chef Jorge Guzman will leave the southeast Minneapolis destination brewery.