This week in the Tap: Where — and how — does food cross over from being a business that feeds people to being a way of life?
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 email@example.com.
An Edible Sense of Place
A couple of weeks ago, the office of Lt. Gov. Tina Smith invited us to do what amounted to a local food culture ride-along. We accompanied Lt. Gov. Smith (above) to Tangletown Gardens Farm in Plato and heard from farmers Dean Engelmann (below) and Scott Endres (above) about how forage crops, diversity of products, and the aggressive application of scientific knowledge could lead to a terrific yield-per-acre; we traveled out to Enki Brewing in Victoria, and heard — while drinking some really good beer — about how a Minnesota Department of Agriculture grant helped this small business expand; and we sat down for dinner at Wise Acre Eatery to dive into conversation about the farm-to-table connection (and also some exquisite fried chicken and noteworthy pickled veg).
The thing that kept coming up, in so many forms, was the connection between the land, the people, and the food that we eat: the connection between the health of the soil and the health of the food it produces, which Engelmann talked about at length on the farm; the connection between consumers and geography that knowledgeable eating fosters; and the rise in awareness of what it means to be an Upper Midwestern farmer or eater as reflected in new books like The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook or In Winter’s Kitchen by Beth Dooley.
“You go to a farmers market, and you get interested in what’s being grown, and who’s growing it, and where the farms are,” said Smith. “And if you’ve been in Minnesota for a long time, you start to realize, ‘oh, that’s where I’m from, or where my grandmother’s from,’ and you just start to connect to the food. And then, through that you also connect with the place.”
That sense of place, she explained, is more than just geographic — it embraces a sense of time and personal identity for Minnesotans. “You start to get a sense of what’s grown at what time of year, and what’s grown here as opposed to someplace else,” said Smith. “You start to look at the food that you’re eating and you start to ask: ‘Where does the food that I’m eating come from? And I think that’s revolutionary.'”
The point was underscored by the food served at Wise Acre Eatery. We’d seen friends and relatives of the birds we were eating, and the fields in which the produce we were eating was grown. We knew where the bacon came from, and we were OK with it.
“People are starting to figure out that knowing where your food comes from and shopping at farmers markets isn’t just something that people with means can do,” said Smith. “It’s something everybody can do. I think there was this elitist attitude about it that was misplaced but shaped the way organics, for example, are perceived.”
Smith’s remark resonated at Wise Acre, where — as at other farm-to-table staples, including Heartland and Corner Table, entrees hover in the $20 range, keeping many diners from visiting for all but special occasions. But if you’ve been following food news around here, you know that the “fresh, local food is Linden Hills and Edina only” vibe is evolving, and the scene is becoming a great deal more complex and accessible. You’ve seen strong green shoots of institutions working to bridge the gap between local, “real” food and the general public in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. These institutions include everything from the Good Grocer store, which that recently opened on Lake Street, to Breaking Bread Cafe in North Minneapolis to The Good Acre CSA program to urban farms (like those that help power Tiny Diner) to the boom in co-ops, including new locations for The Wedge, Mississippi Market, and Seward.
“On the consumer side, I see people being reinvigorated by the idea that they’re buying food from people that they know, and people who are from their community,” said Smith. On the supplier side, she sees entrepreneurs who are figuring out business models that will support them as they do something they’re passionate about. “The level of passion that I see on the supplier side is so exciting,” she said.
— James Norton
- Gogi Bros. House, Shady Oak Retail Center, Eden Prairie | Good stuff — read our review.
- DiNoko’s Pizzeria, 4747 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | DiNoko’s is a local place that can, as evidenced by previous incarnations, do deep dish pizza seriously well.
- Sunrise Creative Gourmet, 1085 Grand Ave, St. Paul | A big move for the Hibbing-born Italian specialty shop, which opened in the former Chez Arnaud space on Grand Avenue and offers some cafe-type noshes including soups, salads, and pastries.
- The Commodore Bar and Restaurant, 79 Western Ave N | Historic art deco spot linked with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
- 10K Brewing, 2005 Second Ave, Anoka
- World Cafe | Replaced the former Cafe Zentral in the skyway.
- Kendall’s Tavern and Chophouse, 12800 Bunker Prairie Road, Coon Rapids | Tavern-style food including steaks and pizza from Morrissey Hospitality Companies, the folks behind the St. Paul Grill, Pazzluna, and more. The spot has room for 236 guests in the bar and dining room, plus a patio.
- SotaRol, 5005 Ewing Ave S, Minneapolis | Is a Minnesota / Japan / Mexico crossover a good idea? Who cares! This’ll be fun.
- Harriet’s Inn, 4000 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis | Wings, flatbreads, pot pies, nachos, jucys, tacos(?), and hot dish(!), which you don’t typically see on the menu.
- Seward Co-op Friendship Store, 317 E 38th St, Minneapolis
- Ramen Kazama, 3400 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis | Lots of good buzz about this place, can’t wait to check it out.
- Eastside at Latitude 45, 301 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis | Eastside features Seattle-based chef Nick Dugan as its chef de cuisine working alongside executive chef Remy Pettus.
- Bad Weather Brewing, 414 W 7th St, St. Paul
- The Alchemist, 2222 4th St, White Bear Lake | A craft cocktail haven run by legendary mixologist Johnny Michaels (above).
CLOSED / CLOSING:
- Vincent, A Restaurant | Closing Dec. 31. A triumphant run by a classic restaurant.
- Chiang Mai Thai | Closing Dec. 22. An Uptown mainstay heads for the exit. Along with the closing of Republic, it heralds an era of change at Calhoun Square mall. What’s next, Sushi Tango?
- Surdyk’s Flights | Closing end of 2016. Patently unfair to anyone who flies through MSP.
- La Belle Vie
- Cafe Zentral | One third of the Zentral empire is being sold to employee Rob Whitney, who will reopen it as the World Cafe.
- Nye’s Polonaise Room (closing early 2016) | This trolltastic City Pages column nonetheless does a good job of expressing some of the ambiguity about the passing of the nationally known and locally legendary Nye’s.
- Milkjam Creamery at World Street Kitchen, 2743 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis | Late 2015 or early 2016 | A gourmet ice cream shop by Sameh and Saed Wadi, the brothers behind World Street Kitchen and Saffron.
- Domo Gastro, 1032 3rd Ave NE, Minneapolis | Late 2015 | An Asian-inspired gastro pub — shows some real promise. Looking forward to the Korean-style fried chicken in particular.
- ie, 4724 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis | Late 2015 | AKA “Italian Eatery.” Scratch pastas, with an eye toward the style of Bar La Grassa.
- Taco Cat, Midtown Global Market | The cult favorite, bike-delivered taco place becomes a bricks-and-mortar affair, replacing the former Burrito Mercado spot in Midtown Global Market.
- Polpo | Late 2015 | In the former La Mac Cleaners space, run by David Hahne, the former chef of the excellent Cave Vin.
- Cafe Alma, 528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis | Late 2015 or early 2016 | Hailed by the Star Tribune as this year’s Best Upcoming Project and a “casual breakfast-to-late night cafe, coffee bar, wine bar and bakery.”
- Blue Door Pub, 1514 Como Ave, Minneapolis | January 2016
- Inbound Brewco, 701 5th St N, Minneapolis | End of 2015 | Appears to be a spin-off of Lucid.
- The Viking Bar, 1829 Riverside Ave, Minneapolis | End of 2015 or beginning of 2016 | After nearly a decade of closure, this Cedar-Riverside saloon is on its way to reopening.
- Savory Bake House, 3008 36th Ave S, Minneapolis | 2015 | Located across the street from Merlin’s Rest, “Savory is a new twist on the old school rustic bakery everyone knows and loves,” or so says their Facebook page. Baker is Sandra Sherva from Merlin’s Rest and formerly of Birchwood. Signage was going up yesterday (check our Instagram feed) and test baking is happening.
- Saint Genevieve, 5003 Bryant Ave, Minneapolis | Early 2016 | Expectations are high for this Steve-Brown-helmed restaurant, which will dish up approachable French fare.
- Brut, 428 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis | 2016 | With all the culinary firepower of Erik Anderson (above) and Jamie Malone, Brut promises exciting things. It’s going into the old Sapor space on Washington Avenue.
- Lawless Distilling, 2619 28th Ave S, Minneapolis | Winter 2015
- Scena Tavern, 2943 Girard Ave S, Minneapolis | Winter 2015
- Bonicelli Kitchen, 1901 Fillmore St NE, Minneapolis | ??? | A catering business that raised Kickstarter money to make the jump to bricks-and-mortar and may not be making the jump to bricks and mortar.
- Twin Spirits Distillery, 2931 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Winter 2015
- Able Seedhouse and Brewery, 1121 Quincy St NE, Minneapolis | Winter 2015
- Lakes and Legends Brewing Company, 1368 Lasalle Ave, Minneapolis |Winter 2015
- Q Fanatic, 6009 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Winter 2015 (second location) | Although the local BBQ scene is mighty weak, we do think Q Fanatic does a good job at serving up serious Q. This new location, along with the recently launched truck Bark and the Bite, suggests that there’s hope for us yet.
- DiNoko’s Pizzeria, 4457 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis | Winter 2015 | DiNoko’s is a local place that can do deep dish pizza seriously well. Their move from Nokomis to downtown Minneapolis didn’t work out; here’s hoping that their return foray to South Minneapolis does.
- Bryn Mawr Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave N, Minneapolis | Winter 2015
- The Sheridan Room (replacing the Modern) in Northeast Minneapolis | November 2015 | Some details on MSP365.
- Hi-Lo Diner (working name), 4020 E Lake St, Minneapolis | Winter 2015 | Seward and Longfellow are really jumping onto the breakfast train after years of struggling to get by with nothing more than the overpriced Longfellow Grill and the inedible Denny’s; Mon Petit Chéri seems to be doing well, and the new Co-op Creamery Cafe will be a serious breakfast presence as well. Hi-Lo is getting in as the neighborhoods heat up. Here’s the press release and a photo of a crane lifting the diner into place.
- Upton43, 4312 Upton Ave S, Minneapolis | Fall 2015 | This spot, by Victory 44’s Erick Harcey, is a chance for the much lauded chef to bounce back from the bust-up of Stock and Badge and rollup of the ambitious but shaky Parka. Now hiring, so that’s a good sign.
- Urban Forage Winery and Cider House, 3016 E Lake St, Minneapolis | Winter 2015 | We profiled these guys when they were mounting their (successful) Kickstarter campaign, and they have a fascinating take on how to do earthy, grassroots local wine and cider.
- The Herbivorous Butcher, 507 1st Ave NE, Minneapolis | Fall 2015 | These guys have gotten serious national press and look poised to become a force in the food scene once their bricks-and-mortar spot is up and running. We like what Pizza Nea did with their product.
- Pizzeria Lola concept TBD, 165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis | 2015
- The Bachelor Farmer Cafe project to be named, 200 N 1st St, Minneapolis | 2015
- Handsome Hog, 225 E 6th St, St. Paul | Early spring 2016 | Former Brasserie Zentral and Meritage chef Justin Sutherland will be cooking contemporary Southern food with a high-end twist.
- Mucci’s, 786 Randolph Ave, St. Paul | Early spring 2016 | A new old-school Italian-American place from Tim Niver, owner of Strip Club Meat and Fish and Saint Dinette.
- World of Beer, 356 N Sibley St, St. Paul | 2015 | Part of a chain including locations in Wauwatosa and Appleton, Wis., and Naperville, Ill.
- Lake Monster Brewing, 550 Vandalia St, St. Paul | Dec. 4, 2015 | From the press release: “The 3,000 square foot taproom is housed in a turn-of-the-century brick warehouse, and features a large horseshoe bar and space for over 200 guests. There is also a small private event space available for rent. The December 4 grand opening will feature four brand new beers available for the first time exclusively at the taproom, including a nitro Milk Stout and a Sour Brown Ale.”
- Heirloom, 2186 Marshall Ave, St. Paul | Winter 2015 | W.A. Frost chef Wyatt Evans hopes to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors (such as Russell Klein and Lenny Russo) and found a new St. Paul gastronomic institution. “Modern but … approachable … slow food” sounds pretty good to us (quotes from the Pioneer Press preview).
- 11 Wells Millwright Cocktail Room, Historic Hamm Building, St. Paul | Early 2016 | A restaurant aspect to the space is rumored to be under consideration.
- Lexington (new ownership), 1096 Grand Ave, St. Paul | Mid-November 2015 or later | It’ll be interesting to see how the ambitious team behind this revamp and relaunch tackles the task. Between its facade, its location, and its glorious but stuffy, old-school feel, we’ll find it tough to sort the baby from the bathwater on this one. Jess Fleming sums up the progress or lack thereof here.
Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond
- Oude Oak, Midway Township | Spring 2016 | A new sour beer-only brewery planned for just south of Duluth.
- The Unofficial Dive Bar and Grill, 3701 Stinson Blvd, St. Anthony | Nov. 23, 2015
- St. Croix Brewing Company, 114 Chestnut St E, Stillwater | 2015
- Angry Inch Brewing, 20841 Holyoke Ave, Lakeville | 2015
- ZZQ Smokehouse, 3390 Coachman Road, Eagan | Fall 2015
- Wicked Wort Brewing Co., 4165-4175 W Broadway, Robbinsdale | Fall 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.