The Tap: Daily Diner Frogtown and Republic Reboot

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The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding two tickets to our May 11 North Coast Nosh at the American Swedish Institute to the best tipster of March and April. 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.

Brad Person Photography

Brad Person Photography

Daily Diner Frogtown (opening April 15)
615 University Ave, St. Paul | 651.789.7661

When the Daily Diner Frogtown opens next week, it will represent a nexus of missions and flavors: of serving hot scratch food to neighbors and teaching job skills to people in need, and of blending American comfort flavors with tastes from Asia and Latin America, among others. The Union Gospel Mission will guide the vocational education side of things, but as far as the flavor side, that falls squarely into the court of Executive Chef Jason Koehn.

“Everything is going to be made from scratch — we’re making all our own dressings, all our sauces — baking all our cakes, and all our own cinnamon rolls,” says Koehn. “I would say 98 percent of the menu is based on scratch cooking. From there I went with a classic diner concept — breakfast, lunch, dinner. A little heavy on the breakfast side.”

While Koehn keeps an eye on the kitchen, he’ll also be working with trainees who are ready to go into the general workforce but lack specific skills. The Daily Diner Frogtown will be a working restaurant, but also a teaching environment where trainees can pick up a wide range of skills — “Everything from serving to hostessing, to prep cook and line cook — pretty much every aspect of the restaurant,” says Koehn.

Koehn has shaped a menu that accentuates simple, familiar dishes dressed up with what he describes as his own personal spins on things. “One I’m really excited about is our turkey club,” he says. “It’s made on cranberry wild rice bread from Franklin Street Bakery, and we’re deep frying our turkey breast. I’ve never seen it done before.”

The menu will also pop with flavors that echo the population of the diverse Frogtown neighborhood. “I’ve got some Latino influence — huevos rancheros for breakfast, and nachos for an appetizers,” Koehn says. “For Asian influence, I’ve got lettuce wraps, and we’re doing our egg rolls for appetizers, from scratch. And we’ve got some Southern-influenced dishes like fried chicken and chicken and waffles. I’m just excited for it to get started.”

Kate N.G. Sommers/Heavy Table

Kate N.G. Sommers / Heavy Table

Republic (new chef and menu)
221 Cedar Ave Minneapolis; 3001 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.338.6146; 612.886.2309

French-trained and inspired chef Keven Kvalsten is a wine guy by professional training, but a beer geek at heart — something that will serve him well at his new post, helming the food operations at the Republic pubs in Uptown and the Seven Corners neighborhood. Kvalsten has worked at local spots including Lurcat, Barbette, the Green Room in Waconia, Corner Table, and Green Mill’s Twisted Fork, which puts him in a good position to up the wattage of Republic’s small plate offerings.

“People aren’t necessarily coming in for a three-course meal, they just want some of this and some of that, and a beer,” says Kvalsten. “We’re bringing in flatbreads. We’re going to do pork and beans, with pork belly and pork shoulder with cannellini [beans] and bourbon bacon jam. And some vegetarian-friendly things, too.”

A new dish called Ducks in a Row also promises to garner attention — it will feature a series of Wild Acre duck preparations on a rectangular plate.

Kvalsten plans to accentuate the marriage of beer and food — it’s a pairing made increasingly joyous by the sometimes wild exuberance of modern American craft brewers. “Beers are so hoppy and dynamic now … it’s not just lager,” says Kvalsten. “There are limitless possibilities. I just made an ice cream out of an espresso oak-aged beer. It’s super good.”

Beyond the menu refresh, Kvalsten is hard at work on an April 17 beer dinner featuring the brews of Steel Toe Brewing.

republic-beer-dinner-menu-315

Origami Uptown (now open)
1354 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis | 612.223.8666

The entrance of Origami into Uptown brings the area’s already red-hot sushi competition up to a white-hot heat; regularly named best in the Cities, Origami is known for its serious approach to sushi. That includes its old-school omakase service wherein diners put themselves in the hands of the restaurant’s capable chefs, who dish up a series of surprising bites that show off the freshest cuts of fish in the house.

Spill the Wine (relocated and open)
901 West Lake St, Minneapolis | 612.339.3388

While it may seem like everybody and his brother, uncle, cousin, and cousin’s cousin are surging into spots in or near the Warehouse District in Minneapolis, Spill the Wine has evacuated its Washington Ave. location for a spot in Uptown, a friendly environment for the sloshing of alcohol if ever there was one.

Tin Bins (coming early May)
Near the corner of Main and Nelson Streets, Stillwater

The Pioneer Press reports that Stillwater will be getting a new high-profile bar and cafe housed in the gorgeous old Commander Grain Elevator. Originally built in 1898 at the corner of Main and Nelson Streets, the elevator will house a new tenant called Tin Bins, which will serve light fare including sandwiches and salads, as well as keg wine, beers, and hard liquor.

NOW OPEN

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

  • Roat Osha, 2650 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis. Reopened after floor renovation. | 612.377.4418
  • Morrissey’s Irish Pub, 913 W Lake St, Minneapolis | 612.465.8555
  • Hello Pizza, 3904 Sunnyside Rd, Edina | 952.303.4514
  • Franklin Restaurant, 137 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. Formerly Azima.
  • Rincon 38, 3801 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.824.4052
  • Sushi Fix, 862 E Lake St, Wayzata | 612.532.0305
  • Seward Cafe, 2129 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. Now open for dinner service. | 612.332.1011
  • Franklin Restaurant, 137 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis
  • Burch Steak, Burch Pizza Bar, 1942 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | 612.843.1515
  • Glam Doll Donuts, 2605 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis | 612.345.7064
  • Red Cow, 3624 W 50th St, Minneapolis | 651.336.2179
  • Thrivent Cafe, 625 4th Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.844.8224

CLOSED / CLOSING:

  • Primebar, 3001 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis.
  • Cupcake Caramel by Sweets Bakeshop, 4747 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis; 2042 Marshall Ave, St. Paul.
  • Glory Days Bar & Grill, 500 5th Ave NW, New Brighton
  • Kinsen Noodles and Bar, 1300 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis
  • Fischerville Coffee House, 2150 Dodd Rd, Mendota Heights
  • Dean’s Tavern, 1986 Rice St, Maplewood
  • Midway Rendezvous Coffee, 518 Snelling Ave N, St. Paul

COMING UP:

Minneapolis

St. Paul

Greater Twin Cities Area

  • Tin Bins, near the corner of Main and Nelson Streets, Commander Grain Elevator, Stillwater. May 2013.
  • Sakana Sushi and Hibachi, Plymouth. June.
  • Travail, Pig Ate My Pizza, and The Rookery, Robbinsdale. Fall 2013.
  • Forever Yogurt, The Shops at West End, I-394 & 100. Opens before summer of 2013.
  • Egg and Pie Diner, 222 N Chestnut St, Chaska | 612.227.6999
  • Tavern 4 & 5, 16396 Wagner Way, Eden Prairie. Opens in late April.
  • Hammerheart Brewing, 7785 Lake Dr, Lino Lakes. Opens in 2013. | 651.964.2160
  • Sawatdee, 13300 Technology Dr, Eden Prairie. Opens in 2013.
  • Osaka Seafood and Steakhouse, Woodbury Lakes, Woodbury. Opens in 2013.
  • Punch Pizza, City Centre Dr, Woodbury. Opens June 2013.
  • Black Sea, 1581 E County Road E, White Bear Lake
  • Crooked Pint Ale House, Apple Valley

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. Noooooo 04/09/2013 Reply

    Republic had better not change that happy hour.

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