Looking Forward to 2016


Is it me or was 2015 just one burst of insanity after the next? I hope you made it through those holidays OK. I’m hoping that the extended family visits were swift and kind and the friends-mas-es (or whatever you call your gathering of chosen family) were wonderful. I hope your pants fit, or are at least close to fitting again. Are you ready for this whole new year? Good things are coming. I can feel it — and nearly taste it. Although, 2015 was the year of big headlines (YES, Spoon and Stable, he’s from New York. We get it already!). This is going to be the year of delicious tidings close to home.

Here’s what I know is close on the horizon:

Restaurant: Upton 43
Now, chances are very good that chef Erick Harcey’s new Linden Hills restaurant is already open by the time you are reading this, but from my vantage point, it’s not quite ready.
Why we’re excited:
When chef Harcey’s game is on, it is a dazzling spectacle of ingenuity. The flavors are comforting and in this endeavor he is drawing inspiration from very close to home. Harcey was in the midst of building the restaurant when he scrapped previous plans and began anew. What poured forth from his soul and mind was one long love letter to a proud way of life and a bit of Minneapolis’ Nordic roots. I cannot wait to taste these modern memories.

Restaurant: The Bachelor Farmer Café
Expect the same, carefully edited, sparse elegance in coffee shop form. The bakery case will be stocked by the pastry team inside The Bachelor Farmer. The coffee will be given the same careful attention that the cocktails receive at Marvel Bar. And, if this all sounds a wee bit pretentious, don’t worry — it won’t be. The modest café will be a spot to grab a sandwich, a cuppa, and maybe a spot of wifi.
Why we’re excited:
Eric and Andrew Dayton conquered rustic fine dining (and helped make toast chic a real thing in Minneapolis). The downstairs Marvel Bar set the standard for local cocktails and now, there will be a café. The North Loop just keeps getting better.

Restaurant: Brut
Chefs Erik Anderson and Jamie Malone set the food world a-flutter when this idea was first announced; however, the two have been pragmatic in approach. Good things take time. Now, the former Sapor location is being remade into Brut. However, the opening date is still TBD.
Why we’re Excited:
Two Food & Wine Best New Chefs who are beloved by all who taste their cuisine are pouring their hearts and souls into this project. The duo hosted a few pop-ups last year that were good, have now helped open Scena Tavern, and now are ready to return the focus to Brut.

Restaurant: Alma Café
When the Dunn Brothers coffee shop that was next to Alex Roberts’ fine dining restaurant moved out, the chef decided to make the move to expand with a more casual option and add a boutique hotel above. It’s the hotel part that caused the hold up. There had been some snags with permitting and whatnot, but the project continues to move forward. The James Beard Award-winning chef isn’t in a hurry. The space has been keeping busy with pop-ups —  of both the bakery and art variety.
Why we’re excited:
Roberts’ Alma continues to deliver plates to swoon over. The fine dining beauty with neighborhood comfort of Restaurant Alma makes for one of the best dinner experiences in the Twin Cities. Meanwhile, Roberts’ also created Brasa. The two restaurants in Northeast and on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue serve worldly comfort food at affordable prices in a way that should be a business model taught at hospitality school.

Restaurant: Mucci
There’s a little restaurant location on Randolph Avenue, buried in the heart of the West 7th neighborhood, that has patiently been awaiting the right hand to guide it back into life. Although rumors circulated for years as to who would own it, Tim Niver was eventually the one to snap this baby up and promise to breathe light and love back into the room. Niver is, of course, the singular front-of-house talent who also co-owns The Strip Club Meat and Fish and Saint Dinette.
Why we’re excited:
Not only is Niver the most charming and cheeky of hosts, but he is also one of the most passionate restaurateurs in the Twin Cities. This is the project he wants to carry with him into elder age. He imagines himself years from now, still greeting neighbors like family and serving the Italian red-sauce food he loves. In the kitchen will be long-time Strip Club chef de cuisine Chris Uhrich.

Restaurant: The Lexington
The stately restaurant at the corner of Lexington and Grand Avenues in St. Paul has been closed for quite some time while Josh Thoma and Kevin Fitzgerald of Smack Shack with James Beard Award-nominated chef Jack Riebel work with an endless stream of construction crews to restore the historic space to its former glory.
Why we’re Excited:
This team already once proved that they know how to revive a historic restaurant (see: Il Foro). Will the Lex regain her glory? Time will tell. And time remains — last I was told, we were looking at a spring opening. Le Sigh.

Restaurant: Milkjam Creamery
Because chef/restaurateur Sameh Wadi wasn’t doing enough, what with World Street Kitchen, Saffron, the WSK food truck, and writing a cookbook (The New Mediterranean Table), he’s decided to open an ice cream shop. Well, who wouldn’t?
Why we’re excited:
The mango and puffed-wild-rice-topped soft serve at World Street Kitchen. The guy knows how to build a good cone.

Restaurant: Polpo
Just a few steps from the new St. Genevieve comes another restaurant — it’s enough to make us eye the real estate section for a home closer to this delicious neighborhood. Chef David Hahne, who gave Minneapolis dining the dearly departed Pane Vino Dolce and opened Cavé Vin is making his return.
Why we’re excited:
Fresh seafood, Mediterranean influence, and a happy hour that starts around 1:30 p.m., Lynnhurst is killing us with address envy.

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