This week in the Tap: The meaning of “good service” may be evolving.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good Service and Millennial Culture
Two recent visits to two excellent restaurants got me thinking about the nuances of “good service.” Both places — Estrellón in Madison and Heirloom in St. Paul — have talented young chefs on the make, and both boasted staffs whose average age seemed parked around 23.
Commonalities between the places, beyond the uniformly delicious food and drinks: All of the restaurants’ young servers, impeccably dressed and coifed, seemed … busy. Questions and requests, which they politely humored, generally seemed to be impositions on their time. Specials had to be extracted, and when they were provided, they were summarized briefly.
At Estrellón, I watched a server engage with another diner about whether a particular tapa was gluten-free. While it’s hard not to feel the server’s pain, it was also unpleasant listening. It was a prickly exchange, with the server defending what he’d written down and how the menu was phrased against the guest’s increasingly peevish accusations. Lost completely was the idea that diners should be welcome and comfortable, and that the service interaction is meant to facilitate that feeling. In a word: hospitality, a concept at the very core of dining out anywhere (and, certainly, at any place where the average check total approaches $75 a diner).
At Heirloom, the most meaningful interaction we had with our chronically rushed waiter was at the end of the meal, when he explained that the 18-percent service charge tacked onto our bill would be divided amongst the staff … and that if we wanted to tip him personally beyond that, we could write in that additional number on the conveniently provided line on the tab.
Here’s a theory: When you’re used to splitting your day between five social media channels, it’s easy to see any given customer as a task to be accomplished and then rotated away from, rather than a guest to be welcomed. It’s totally understandable, it’s a natural evolution, and it’s a shame. One of the great appeals of restaurants is feeling as though everything is taken care of, and you need only enjoy your food, wine, and conversation.
Age isn’t the only factor here. I’ve been waited on by young servers at places like Brasa, Meritage, Saint Genevieve, and others and had reliable, repeatably great service, where hospitality was the watchword. But those three places (in particular) are helmed by veteran chefs with old-school ideas about how to make guests feel comfortable. It will be a great thing for diners if newer restaurants retain some of the best traditions of their predecessors even as they evolve and innovate. — James Norton
Join us at Baristas Gone Wild this weekend at Spyhouse Coffee Northeast
Are you the sort of person who brings a (shatter-proof) French press into the wilderness? Do you demand decent coffee no matter how wild the setting? Then you’ll want to head to Northeast Minneapolis on Saturday, May 14 to attend Baristas Gone Wild. You’ll join the award-winning roasters of Spyhouse Coffee as they prepare you for a wild summer of camping, canoeing, and coffee brewing.
And you’ll also learn more about Chef Camp, the Sept. 2-4 camp retreat featuring some of Minnesota’s best chefs teaching open-fire cooking.
Baristas Gone Wild will feature demonstrations on coffee roasting and various styles of brewing (with tastings!), and a coffee mixology tutorial with an emphasis on coffee drinks that would be ideal when made and enjoyed in the great outdoors.
We’re down to our last handful of tickets, so please sign up today if you’re interested.
- Where: Spyhouse Coffee — 945 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis 55413
- Tickets: $10 + fees via Eventbrite
- Wayzata Brew Works, 294 Grove Lane, Suite 150, Wayzata
- Modist Brewing Company, 505 N 3rd St, Minneapolis | Read our extensive preview.
- Moroccan Flavors, former Sonora Grill space at Midtown Global Market | Tagines and more.
- Rose Street Patisserie, 2811 W 43rd St, Minneapolis | The Linden Hills outpost of Patisserie 46 is a bakery and full-service restaurant with 54 seats.
- Blue Door Pub, 1514 Como Ave SE, Minneapolis
- Dogwood Coffee Company (new location), 825 Carleton St, St. Paul
- Inbound Brewco, 701 5th St N, Minneapolis
- Handsome Hog, 225 E 6th St, St. Paul | Former Brasserie Zentral and Meritage chef Justin Sutherland is cooking contemporary Southern food with a high-end twist. Our review.
- Hoban Korean Barbecue, 2939 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis | Our brief review is here.
- Hi-Lo Diner, 4020 E Lake St, Minneapolis
- Q Fanatic, 6009 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | The second location of our favorite local BBQ joint.
- Lou Nanne’s, 7651 France Ave S, Edina | Steakcentric menu with a Manny’s vet (Josh Hill) as chef. Our brief review is here.
- Encore Karaoke and Sushi Lounge, 2111 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis | The former Verdant Tea space on Franklin now boasts private karaoke rooms that’ll set you back $60 (for two hours in the Silver Room) to $800 (for four hours in the Penthouse, which houses 20-30 guests).
CLOSED / CLOSING:
- Bonnie’s Cafe
- Foreign Legion | The last element of the glorious but short-lived Brasserie Zentral.
- Lee’s and Dee’s Bar-B-Que Express (Some hope remains that it will reopen)
- Scusi | New restaurant concept to be announced this month.
- Wild Mind Artisan Ales Taproom, 6031 Pillsbury Ave S, Minneapolis | As per the press release: “Wild Mind will predominantly produce wild, sour, farmhouse, saison, and rustic ales in the traditional European method: through barrel aging and blending, which produces beers with rich, deep, complex flavors.“
- Five Watt (Roastery and Cafe), 2904 Harriet Ave, Minneapolis | August | Former Uptown Imports location.
- Kata Organic, 4279 Sheridan Ave S, Minneapolis | Late spring | Organic cafe, smoothies, and fitness classes.
- Clockwerks Brewing Company, 25 4th St N, Minneapolis | Late spring.
- Trapeze, 1600 W Lake St, Minneapolis | Early Summer 2016 | A new Kim Bartmann “bubbles and toasts” bar opening next door to Barbette.
- Lu’s Sandwich, 20 6th Street NE, Minneapolis
- Blackeye Roasting Company, 330 2nd Ave S, Minneapolis (Skyway level) | Spring | An 18-seat cafe located in the skyway with 10 tap lines of non-alcoholic beverages that include nitro cold brew coffee, nitro iced tea, kombucha and draft cocktails
- Erik the Red, 600 N 1st Ave, Minneapolis | Summer | Nordic-influenced barbecue from the owner of Devil’s Advocate.
- Kaiseki Furukawa, 30 N 1st St, Minneapolis | October | Classic kaiseki (progressive small courses) dining.
- Costa Blanca, 2416 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | The latest spot from the opening-restaurants-like-crazy Hector Ruiz.
- Young Joni, 165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis | Summer 2016 | Anticipation is high for this new wood-fired pizza and Korean spot by Pizzeria Lola / Hello Pizza boss Ann Kim.
- PinKU, 20 University Ave NE, Minneapolis | June 1 | Ramen, dumplings, other Japanese street food.
- Bakers’ Field, The Food Building | 2016 | Bread made from grain milled on site at the Food Building in Northeast Minneapolis. The bakery’s owner is Steve Horton, formerly of Rustica.
- Shake Shack | 2016 | A local outpost of the cult favorite better-burger chain will open at the Mall of America.
- Revival, 525 Selby Ave, St. Paul (former Cheeky Monkey space) | Summer 2016 | A second location for the popular fried chicken spin-off of Corner Table. The original location will also be expanding and offering take-out.
- Project TBD at old Walker Library in Uptown, 2901 Hennepin Ave S | Architectural details available here.
- Cafe Alma, 530 University Ave SE, Minneapolis | 2016 | Slated to be an all-day cafe with a liquor license and a six-room hotel upstairs, as Alex Roberts explains in this Q and A with Rick Nelson.
- The Viking Bar, 1829 Riverside Ave, Minneapolis | May 25 | After nearly a decade of closure, this Cedar-Riverside saloon is now hiring.
- 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 | “Soon-ish,” according to their website.
- Bonicelli Kitchen, 1839 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | July 1 | Opening in the former Razaaq space on Central Avenue.
- Twin Spirits Distillery, 2931 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Early 2016
- DiNoko’s Pizzeria, 4457 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis | Delayed | 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.
- Utepils (formerly Bryn Mawr) Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave N, Minneapolis | Late summer 2016
- Black Coffee and Waffle Bar, Marshall and Cretin Aves, St. Paul | Second location.
- Parco 400, 400 N Sibley St, St. Paul | Late spring 2016 | A new Italian restaurant opening in the old Trattoria Da Vinci spot in Lowertown, the culinary side to be headed up by Troy Unruh, formerly of New York City’s well-known Del Posto.
- World of Beer, 356 N Sibley St, St. Paul | 2016 | Part of a chain including locations in Wauwatosa and Appleton, Wis., and Naperville, Ill.
- 11 Wells Millwright Cocktail Room, Historic Hamm Building, St. Paul | 2016 | A restaurant aspect to the space is rumored to be under consideration.
- The Lexington (new ownership), 1096 Grand Ave, St. Paul | Spring 2016 | 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. Their Facebook page says, “Keep calm. We are opening soon.”
Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond
- 1.2.3. Pasta, 6508 Cahill Ave, Inver Grove Heights | Soon
- Fika Coffee, Lutsen | Early summer | Read our profile of Fika Coffee’s Joshua Lindstrom.
- Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery (formerly Oude Oak) Midway Township | Spring 2016 | A new sour beer-only brewery planned for just south of Duluth.
- St. Croix Brewing Company, 114 Chestnut St E, Stillwater | 2016
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 email@example.com.