Cook St. Paul and More

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Cook St. Paul (opening this month)

When Cook St. Paul has its grand opening in the former Serlin’s Cafe space on April 17, it’ll join a growing crew of ambitious Payne-Phalen restaurants including Ward 6 and the soon-to-open Tongue in Cheek.

Of his new neighbors, Cook St. Paul partner Eddie Wu says: “They don’t want the frills — they want good food and they want good service. That’s what they care about, and that’s what we care about. I’m in my mid-30s opening up my first restaurant, and I don’t have the energy to open up in Lowertown or the North Loop where we’d have to cater to trends.”

Cook St. Paul is going to open serving breakfast and lunch with a Korean twist. Much of the cooking muscle will be supplied by partner Charles Cook, who has been cooking in the area for 20 years, including a long stint at Cossetta. The Korean part of the menu emerges from Wu’s experience apprenticing at St. Paul’s well-regarded Sole Cafe.

“Kimberly [Firnstahl], who owns Sole Cafe, needed help with an air conditioner,” recalls Wu. “I helped her with the air conditioner. Then she needed some more help, and I saw that she, as good as she was in the kitchen, struggled on the business side. And I said: ‘I can help you, if you teach me how to cook Korean.’ And she said: ‘That’s a deal.’ I learned Korean food from every angle in a restaurant.”

“At the end, she said, ‘Everything you learned here is yours to do with what you want, because you’ll never make it like me, and I’m not trying to hold onto top-secret recipes.”

Cook St. Paul will serve a Korean-inspired burger, and a version of bibimbap that takes the crisped rice element of the hot, stone-bowl version of the dish (dolsot) and combines it with the cold version of the dish.

“You’ll get the textual change you’d otherwise get in the hot version in the stone bowl, but without having to deal with a stone bowl that is about 20 pounds and 600 degrees when it comes to your table,” says Wu.

Of bibimbap, Wu says: “I’d always get bummed out because I’d want to get it to go, and you can’t because it’s not a dish you can take to go. Eventually when our to-go service is up and running, you’ll be able to order what is basically our dolsot bibimbap in a to-go box, and you’ll get the same experience you would’ve had you sat in the restaurant, sans being on the precipice of a lawsuit or an ER trip.”

The rest of the menu includes bin dae duk (a Korean pancake) and then goes classic American diner from there: “We’re doing French toast, we’re doing pancakes, we’re doing eggs Benedict, we’ll be doing omelets. We’re making all our bread from scratch, so our Benedict will be on house-made egg rolls as opposed to an English muffin, and we’ll be braising our own short ribs and the short ribs will go on top of the eggs Benedict. If it’s not from scratch, someone from the Twin Cities or rural Twin Cities area will be making it.”

Summing up Cook St. Paul’s philosophy, Wu says: “We want to take everything familiar, and make it how it was made 100 years ago — it was all from scratch, it was all fresh, and it tastes good that way.”

The restaurant’s hours will be 6:30am-2pm Monday through Friday, and 7am-3pm on Saturday and Sunday; Wu says that dinner service will likely be added when the restaurant’s wine and beer license comes through. And cakes (including mini Bundt cake baskets in lieu of muffins) will be part of the plan, too – Wu’s wife Eve will be operating the newly founded Keikeu Cake Boutique out of the same building.


Sarah McGee / Heavy Table
Sarah McGee / Heavy Table
Kyatchi sushi
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table



  • Zimmy’s (Hibbing)
  • The Belmore / New Skyway Lounge
  • Sunsets Wayzata
  • Chez Arnaud (White Bear Lake)
  • Singapore, 5554 34th Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Birchwood Cafe | Closed for renovation, reopening late spring.
  • Sally’s Saloon and Eatery, 712 Washington Ave SE | Closed for remodeling until summer 2014.
  • Buster’s on 28th, 4204 S 28th Ave, Minneapolis | Temporary closure due to mid-2013 fire; unclear when reopening will take place.



  • Socialista, North Loop | Spring 2014
  • Eastlake Craft Brewing, Midtown Global Market | Fall 2014
  • Dong Hae Korean Grill and Sushi, 251 1st Ave N, Minneapolis (former Nami space) | Late spring 2014
  • Drunken Sake, in former True Thai location on Franklin Ave | Late spring
  • Kyoto Sushi (new location), in former Tiger Sushi spot at Lyn-Lake | Spring 2014
  • Hola Arepa (bricks and mortar), South Minneapolis | Early May
  • Lago Tacos, old Heidi’s location, Minneapolis
  • Corner Table projects: relocation to old La Chaya Bistro space and opening of mid-South / fried chicken restaurant | Spring 2014
  • Aki’s Bread Haus, 2506 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Late April at earliest
  • Bent Arrow, 5416 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Lyn 65 Kitchen and Bar, 6439 Lyndale Ave, Richfield | Late March / April
  • Betty Danger’s Country Club, 2519 Marshall St, Minneapolis | Opening date unknown
  • Russell and Desta Klein projects: Brasserie Zentral, Cafe Zentral, Foreign Legion wine bar, wine shop to be named, Soo Line Building | 2014
  • Heyday, 2702 Lyndale Ave, Minneapolis | Opens April 2014
  • Ling & Louie’s Kitchen, 9th St and Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
  • The Nicollet Diner, 1428 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Late spring 2014
  • Tiny Diner, 1014 E 38th St, Minneapolis | 612.822.6302
  • Unnamed Gastrotruck restaurant, 2400 University Ave NE, Minneapolis

St. Paul

Courtesy Urban Growler
Courtesy Urban Growler

Greater Twin Cities Area

  • Lolo American Kitchen | March 2014
  • Peace Coffee Coffee Bar, Lakewinds Co-op, Richfield | June 2014
  • Victor’s, 205 Water St, Excelsior | Spring 2014
  • Maple Island Brewing Co., Stillwater | May 2014
  • LTD (Live the Dream) Brewing, 812 Mainstreet, Hopkins | 2014
  • Castle Danger Brewery, Two Harbors brewery expansion and taproom | 2014
  • Jordan Brewery, Jordan, MN | Spring 2014

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

One Comment

  1. Tiffany Cook

    For Cook St. Paul, please ensure you note that besides many of the Korean influenced dishes, there is to die for Cream of Chicken Wild Rice Soup, there is all freshly made bread, homemade Jelly, fresh cut made fries, and homemade chips. The recipes are all done by Charles Cook and two great sandwiches to try are The Commercial and The Monte Cristo. The pancakes beat anyone’s by yards, the best homemade sausage is served. Please go there and try! Charles cooking is amazing and he’s done a fine job and is ready for all to taste!

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