Taste Buds: Dakota: Hitting All the Right Notes


The view from the bar, photo courtesy of the Dakota.

When was the last time you had something to eat at an entertainment venue and could actually remember it? There aren’t many. Let’s face it, a lot of places are more concerned with ‘what’s on stage’ than ‘what’s on the menu.’  Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant—yes, restaurant too—promises to delight all of your senses. The famed music club, hailed for bringing in jazz stars from around the country, is now working hard to earn a reputation as a fine dining destination.

With dishes like Pan Seared Sea Bass, short rib and wild mushroom cabbage rolls, cold smoked salmon carpaccio and fried crab cakes with a chimichurri sauce, Dakota’s new menu is meant to strike a note with music lovers and foodies.

“We’re music driven and chef fueled,” insists Dakota Marketing Manager Meg Cadogan.  Our conversation took place as a parade of beautiful dishes sailed out of the kitchen. I quickly learned bite after enjoyable bite that the new menu offerings are as unique and extraordinary as the talented artists who perform at Dakota.


Sea Bass (short rib, wild mushroom cabbage roll, chimichurri cream sauce, cilantro). Photo by Hubert Bonnet

At the helm is Executive Chef Derik Moran, who’s considered an up and coming star on the Twin Cities food scene. The 27-year-old chef, who started cooking when he was just 11, has led the restaurant to recent accolades, including two ‘Best Of’ lists. And you know how this town loves ‘Best Of’ lists.

Moran’s approach is creating memorable meals that are artistic yet efficient. He carefully chooses locally sourced regional and seasonal meats and produce to ensure the best ingredients. Moran recommends that guests sample a variety of dishes to enhance their visit. “I really like to see people have 3 to 4 courses for the whole experience,” Moran says.

Because Dakota is such an acclaimed music spot in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, Moran knows what comes out of his kitchen can’t be an afterthought. This guy is intensely focused on taking his food to a very high level. “Doing food and music together is very complicated,” the chef admits.   But Moran says his team accepts the challenge, adding, “Everyone plays a role in making this happen.”


All shook up over this one: The Elvis (whipped peanut butter, grape sherbet, banana compote, bacon). Photo by Hubert Bonnet

And even though I’m not usually a dessert guy, Pastry Chef Katie Eising succeeded in really wowing me.  One of her standouts is her homage to The King.  Oh yeah baby, ‘The Elvis’ is the real deal—whipped peanut butter, grape sherbet, banana compote and bacon.  I’d go back again just for that.

Good to know about Dakota.

Four times a month there are special Foodie Nights.  A unique dinner menu is offered and there’s no charge for the music.

Dakota will also entice you with its signature wine lunch. For around $40 you can attend the spirited lunch with 3 tastings and 3 courses, followed by coffee and truffles.  Plus, music provided by visiting artists.


Maple Cranberry Tart (maple orange mousse, cranberry cream, salted pecan crumb, micro mint). It’s a carnival for the taste buds! Photo by Hubert Bonnet

A la carte dining is available almost every night. So even if there isn’t a show, you can still enjoy the culinary experience. And there’s no cover or ticket charge.

Reservations are accepted and encouraged.

You don’t have to sit at a table in the main area of the restaurant to enjoy the full menu.  My partner Kurt and I prefer to sit at the bar and order tantalizing dishes as we take in the show.


Hearty and satisfying: Beef Tenderloin (parsnip butter, roasted carrot, salsify, fig gastrique.) Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Dakota has an appealing Happy Hour Menu that’s offered 6 days a week.
(Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
(Friday and Saturday 10 p.m. to Midnight)

Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
1010 Nicollet Avenue


Cold Smoked Salmon Carpaccio (golden beet, fennel, dill, pickled mustard seed, horseradish cream, lemon, and gin). Photo by Hubert Bonnet


Crab Cakes (calabrian tomato sugo, chorizo, saffron). Photo by Hubert Bonnet



Chef Derik Moran. Photo by Hubert Bonnet

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