Nowadays, everyone is — as my friend would say — DTB: down to brunch. Anytime. Anywhere. Obviously, the concept surrounding brunch isn’t anything new. With that said, there seems to be an unspoken brunch battle within the confines of the Twin Cities and beyond. “Do you know of a good brunch place where I can take my parents?” “XYZ has the best brunch. Have you been yet?” And need I mention the inevitable hangover brunch craving? Brunch is the new black.
With what seems to be an endless array of options, establishments really need to step up their game to even have a chance of repeat customers. There are too many restaurants that have it down to a science. This brings me to Makers Cafe, the latest venture from Dunn Bros. in conjunction with Cafe Inc.
The restaurant plays the “local” card and deploys the tagline, “Eat at your desk with dignity,” so we were expecting goodness. And in terms of sourcing and decor, all seemed well: the fast-casual dining eatery uses Autumnwood Farm ingredients, Wood From the Hood decor, and it sells homemade crafts from local businesses. Sadly, actual breakfast food fell flat — figuratively and literally.
The Cinnamon Roll French Toast ($5) was lackluster. At times, we didn’t know if we were actually eating the brown paper plate it was served on. It looked and tasted sad and lonely.
Between Yum! Kitchen and Bakery on the east end and Thanh Do on the west, Minnetonka Boulevard in St. Louis Park hasn’t had much going for it culinary-wise for quite some time except for a few pizza joints. That changed four months ago when Nelson’s Meats, a Hopkins institution for nearly 50 years, relocated to a small strip mall at the corner of Minnetonka and Dakota Avenue South after eminent domain for the expansion of Shady Oak Road forced the deli and butcher shop to find a new home. Since then, nearby residents have welcomed the family-owned shop — now run by Rick Nelson, son of founder Leonard — into a neighborhood that could use an injection of local flavor.
A large meat case dominates the small, light-filled shop, but customers also can grab a sandwich or hot plate from the deli or a cookie from the bakery case. The hot food bar dishes up meaty, stick-to-your-ribs meals six days a week starting at 11am, and while the plates are spiced for the stereotypical Minnesota palate from 50 years ago, there’s comfort in digging into a generous pour of beef or turkey tips over mashed potatoes on a cold day.
An introduction to Kingsley Clothbound Cheddar from Wisconsin cheesemaker Chris Roelli. Rick runs down three affordable fixed-price meals. A visit to the newly opened La Fresca. A Q&A with Dustin Brau of Brau Brothers Brewing. Well Fed Guide to Life heads out to Sonora Grill’s new location (pictured above; here’s our review). And the new Kaskaid restaurant BoneYard opens on Friday.
When Kelly Olsen stood up on Hans’ Bakery’s opening day to announce to a full house that she had sold out of baked goods, everyone cheered.
A room full of people who had just been told that they would not get the doughnuts and pastries they had come for — after they had braved slippery roads and frigid weather the day after a snowstorm — cheered and hugged each other.
That’s how happy, it seems, the entire town of Anoka is to have Hans’ Bakery back.
Hans’ Bakery reopened in Anoka under Olsen’s ownership on Saturday, February 22. The bakery, owned by German immigrants Hans and Traudy Birkner from 1973 until Hans’ death in 1998, had sat empty since 2010.
Olsen has no restaurant or bakery experience, but she got a little help from the Food Network show “Buy This Restaurant,” which featured her quest for a bakery on its first episode. She is also working with experienced bakers who have the original recipes for Hans’ beloved beehives (layered honey pastries), gigantic Texas doughnuts, buns, breads and other baked goods. The menu is huge, and every item seems to have its own partisans.
We visited on 8:30 on Sunday morning, the day after opening day, and found a line of happy, patient people curling tightly around the inside of the building in three loops. They, like us, were counting the pastries in the case, counting the people ahead of them, and crossing their fingers.
Kelly found time to chat with us about the bakery later in the week.
What first inspired you to become a bakery owner?
For a restaurant best known as a destination for special occasion dining and for its killer summer patio, W.A. Frost & Company is a surprisingly good spot for casual winter dining, too. And after the hellish, soul-sucking, serotonin-draining one we’ve endured, a spirited evening spent in the warm embrace of Frost’s historic digs is the perfect way to flip Mother Nature the bird while plotting your move to San Diego.
The two things that have kept us coming back for regular winter therapy sessions are the seriously underrated chef’s burger and the amazing, dungeon-esque basement lounge.
The chef’s burger, in this case, is literally the chef’s burger.
“I started making it for myself for dinner when I was at the University Club,” says Executive Chef Wyatt Evans (below). Through trial and error, and countless burgers, he settled upon the combination of toppings that would become the chef’s burger.