PHOTOGRAPHS BY BECCA DILLEY AND VICTORIA CAMPBELL
There are many, many, many challenges involved in trying to launch a food hall (or food court, or artisan marketplace, or whatever nomenclature you prefer.) We explored some of these in our July 9, 2021 column about the ongoing pivot at Keg & Case, and we could legitimately write a book about the subject; take all the complexity and struggle that goes into launching a single decent restaurant and multiply by an arbitrary number (nine, in the case of the newly launched Market at Malcolm Yards), and then square it by the additional coordination and day-to-day systems needed to make an entire ecosystem of eateries thrive.
It’s not fair to demand perfection of a food hall, new or longstanding. It’s unreasonable, honestly, to ask for much more than about half of your spots to be running smoothly and dishing up good value for the money, and the space to be clean, well-maintained, and pleasant to visit.
But here’s the thing about the Market at Malcolm Yards: They seem to have cracked the case. The space, the former Harris Machinery machine shop, is industrial chic without being cold, filled with human touches that help the cement and galvanized steel feel like they’re part of something living and welcoming. The space is designed to be flexible, with a full-service bar, wall of pour-your-own taps (which require a special Malcolm Yards card obtainable on your way into the space), and a formidably sized and outfitted event space. The restaurant concepts are a thoughtful shotgun of flavors and cuisines, covering the full gamut from healthy, restorative plant-based dining to a huge freakin’ meatball on a plate of spaghetti with red sauce. Most astoundingly, the food we tasted at the restaurants of Malcolm Yards was uniformly good, ranging all the way up to really excellent. While prices are somewhat steep (it’s easy for two people to end up paying $35-45 for lunch), the quality is there, and the variety, value, and convenience are seriously formidable.
ABANG YOLI: PAN-ASIAN DRIVEN BY KOREAN-STYLE FRIED CHICKEN
We’ve had it up to here with fried chicken, a pandemic staple that has become almost frighteningly ubiquitous in the metro area after decades of relative scarcity. But we would absolutely return to the Market at Malcolm Yards for Abang Yoli’s Korean Fried Chicken ($12 for 2 pieces) all by its lonesome. It boasts a remarkable, almost audibly crispy exterior and a tender, moist interior, with ample seasoning and generous portion sizes (2 pieces makes a light meal for two, particularly if you grab some Bebe Zito ice cream or Joey Meatballs cheesecake for dessert.)
Our side of house pickles ($4 for daikon, carrots, cucumber, radish, onion) was a terrific accompaniment, offering really zesty crunch and bold, bright flavor.
Our only disappointment – and it was a minor one – was the volume levels on the sides of kimchi slaw and gojuchang sauce that we tried. While balanced and tasty, both lacked oomph and could have been significantly hotter and funkier.
ADVELLUM: A VEGETABLE EATERY
Advellum definitely does not view vegetables as second-class citizens of the food world. The Wild Boomer Burger ($15) was a hearty (dare I say beefy?) patty of wild rice and mushrooms, the exterior even charred slightly to add to that burger taste. The accompanying slaw with its sesame soy vinaigrette was far beyond the usual dull cole slaw.
Even better was the Current Harvest salad ($13). It was lovely to look at and better to eat, with pickled peaches the star of the dish, tangy and puckery and sweet at the same time. The salsa verde tasted of wasabi, and the crunchy veggies were mellowed out by the white bean hummus. It’s a dish to return for. — Amy Rea
BAGU SUSHI: TIGHTLY CURATED SUSHI AND SASHIMI OFFERINGS
Bagu Sushi’s menu is largely focused on sushi and greatly truncated from its longstanding bricks and mortar location in South Minneapolis, but there are also a few appetizers to be had.
We asked for a sushi recommendation and got the Spicy Tuna Hand Roll ($8) – it was agreeably spicy, but otherwise decent and unremarkable.
However, the Sake Ceviche ($12) was refreshing both in appearance and taste. Salmon
is given the ceviche treatment in a sake sauce, a light, mild flavor complemented with shallots and cilantro and a generous helping of fish roe. It was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. — Amy Rea
BEBE ZITO: DECADENT ICE CREAM AND KILLER BURGERS
We interviewed the Bebe Zito team back in our Growler days (and before they opened their Uptown location), and thought their remarkably rich and creative ice creams had a ton of promise. They’ve completely delivered on that promise, and then some – we really weren’t expecting them to dive headfirst into the world of burgers, but dive they have with spectacular results.
Their Single Bebe Bacon Burger ($6.25) is – on one hand – about as basic as burgers come, offering a beef and bacon patty with American cheese, a mustard-mayo-ish special sauce, pickle, and lettuce. But from the richness of the patty to the zesty, well, richness of the sauce, to the pliable, delicious bun, there isn’t any aspect of this burger that hasn’t been thought about and carefully dialed in. We’ve had burgers – many, many burgers – at $12, $13, even $15, that we’ve enjoyed less than this one.
Bebe Zito made their name on ice cream so we felt obligated to check up on their progress. Readers, we are happy to report that their ice cream is still remarkably compelling, dangerously so if you’re a person who likes craftily made desserts but would prefer to cut back a little bit. We got a scoop of Dad’s Coffee (dark roast, bourbon and condensed milk base, mini chocolate chips) and were staggered by how fully both the bourbon and coffee were expressed in the finished scoop of ice cream. There’s a ton of sweetness and charm in this ice cream, but also a lot of rich complexity, too.
DEL SUR EMPANADAS: HOMEMADE EMPANADAS WITH AN ARGENTINIAN PEDIGREE
In June of this year, Amy Rea visited Del Sur Empanadas in Minnetonka; here’s her assessment of some of their dishes, also available at the Market at Malcolm Yards:
We tried the sweet beef, chorizo, and Caprese empanadas ($3.75) and were impressed with each. The sweet beef is made with ground beef, raisins, eggs, and green olives, giving each bite a complex set of sweet/savory tastes. (Photo above by Brenda Johnson.) The house-made chorizo and chimichurri sauce shone in the chorizo empanada. Perhaps the biggest surprise (and the one we weren’t expecting to enjoy) was the Caprese. At first glance, it sounded a bit like a stunt food. But the strong basil and melty mozzarella encased in the empanada crust was not unlike a margherita pizza—a really good one.
The choripan sandwich ($10) was sizable and came with a generous helping of fried potatoes. In this case, chorizo links grounded the sandwich, made on a good-quality baguette, with both chimichurri and chimichurri mayo adding richness that complemented the zippy sausage. — Amy Rea
JOEY MEATBALLS: CLASSIC ITALIAN-AMERICAN FARE MADE WITH CARE
Joey Meatballs does a thing that we love, so, so much and see so, so rarely: they make simple food without pretense and just crush it by using good ingredients and careful preparation.
The menu revolves around a build-your-own-pasta concept, so we tried a couple of plausible combinations. The spaghetti with red sauce, parmesan, and meatball ($14) looks about as basic as it gets, but it tasted like a million bucks – the meatball pulled off the extremely difficult trick of being properly seasoned, substantial (but not rubbery or overly heavy), richly flavored (but not greasy) and herbally seasoned without being too aggressive. The red sauce was bright and bold, and the noodles were cooked to an ideal tender-but-springy doneness that helped make the whole plate sing. The fact that the dish was finished with fresh basil was a killer touch.
Our gnocchi with sausage, parmesan, and pesto ($15.50) was also profoundly enjoyable, with a couple minor caveats – there was a little too much oil and salt, and not quite enough robust herbal kick to the pesto. But the gnocchi were properly pillowy and the dish held together quite well on the whole.
The restaurant’s side salad ($3.50) offered a surprising amount of volume and flavor for the price – it popped with brightness, and the dressing had a capers-and-onions kick that brought a ton of life to the greens.
And while we were initially disappointed at the size of the cherry cheesecake we got for $4 those feelings were instantly dispelled by the quality of the cake – surprisingly light, rich without being heavy or overly sweet, and surrounded by a bright, tart, pleasant cherry topping that accentuated every bite.
MOMO DOSA: DUMPLINGS AND DOSAS
We’ve had a fair number of dosas over the years – this light, crispy, lentil-powered South Indian-style crepe is reliably tasty, and always entertaining thanks to the disparity between its size (often too big for a plate) and its overall caloric mass (honestly, not too much.)
But the Keema Dosa we tried at Momo Dosa (filled with ground meat, onion, zucchini, mozzarella, basil, and more, $13) has to rank among the best we’ve tasted. The dosa itself was so light, so delicate, and so crispy-chewy as to be utterly compelling. The filling was good, and the mozzarella was both unexpected and welcome for the ballast it provided to an otherwise light dish, but the dosa itself was really the star of the show, and there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with that.
We also tried the shop’s Bison Momos ($12), and found these dumplings to be tender, mild, and pleasant, best enjoyed with the deeply herbed cilantro chutney or the light, surprisingly delicate tomato chutney that accompany them.
SUNDAY AT THE MARKET: CHARCUTERIE AND JAPANESE-INSPIRED SANDWICHES
Sunday at the Market’s menu is largely a build-your-own charcuterie board ($8 per item chosen), but it also offers a few salads and sandwiches. We tried the Tamago sandwich ($6.50), which was described as “Japanese-style egg salad.” The chef explained that that meant treating the egg yolk as if it was going to go in a deviled egg, than combining with the whites for a lighter, fluffier filling. It’s served on a unbelievably light white bread, and while it was a solid egg salad sandwich, it was also quite mayonnaise-y and sweet. Something not sweet to cut through that would have been welcome.
We had better fortune with a charcuterie board chosen from three types of Red Table meats and cheese from Stickney Hills Dairy and Alemar Cheese Co. We wanted to try the latter’s St. James Tomme and asked for a pairing recommendation, which turned out to be Big Chet’s sausage. The fennel paired beautifully with the mild but nutty cheese, as well as the accompanying tapenade. It would be a treat to build a bigger board and enjoy it at Malcolm Yard’s outdoor seating. — Amy Rea
WRECKTANGLE: DETROIT STYLE PIZZA
The thick, rectangular, crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside, evocative-of-Sicilian-pizza pies of Detroit are hard to find in Minnesota, but Wrecktangle does an admirable job of bringing this taste sensation from MI to MN.
I tried and wrote about these pizzas at the chain’s North Loop Galley location for the Growler in early 2020, noting:
The top-of-the-menu pizza at Wrecktangle is the Shredder ($20), and no wonder—it’s approachable, it’s gregarious, but it still has an edge. The beautifully cupped little pepperoni slices that top its puffy-yet-crispy squares of pizza are its visual hallmark, but the inclusion of pickled chilis and whipped Cry Baby Craig’s hot sauce-kicked honey gives it the acid and heat it needs to be more than just a meaty nap in a cardboard box.