Taste Buds: The Freehouse
Beer to Breakfast and Beyond.
Did your mom ever tell you not to miss breakfast because it’s the most important meal of the day? Mine sure did, but I’m pretty certain she never thought about chasing it down with craft beer. Mimosas maybe—but at least that calls for some orange juice. The Freehouse microbrew restaurant in the Minneapolis booming North Loop is the newest spot in the Twin Cities where you can start and end your day with three squares and some suds.
Serving up breakfast is nothing new to Stephanie Shimp and business partner David Burley of the Blue Plate restaurant group. For decades, their delicious take on the morning meal has been luring customers to their other successful Twin Cities restaurants: Highland Grill, Edina Grill and The Lowry. Shimp and Burley know how to deliver notable neighborhood hot spots, but this is the pair’s first foray into the brew pub realm.
“Growing up in Iowa, I never dreamed I’d own a restaurant that makes beer,” Shimp says.
Despite the personal disconnect, opening the Freehouse on Washington Avenue seemed like a natural move with the exploding popularity of microbrews across the country. In fact, the huge, yet inviting space may be the Cities’ answer to a 21st century Tyrolean beer hall. (Servers even wear suspenders, which is always a kick.)
Just be careful how you refer to the new establishment with the (can’t miss it) huge steel grain silo when you’re around Shimp. “I don’t like the idea of calling The Freehouse a brew pub because most people think of it as just burgers and fries,” she says. “Pairing craft beer and better food at breakfast is just plain funky and fun.”
If the beer and breakfast part comes as a surprise, so will the menu. Executive Chef Breck Lawrence has a talent for taking the familiar and re-imagining it. Take the Eggs Benedict. Lawrence’s creation features pork belly and collard greens and the English muffins are griddled—not baked. The secret twist: he makes the yeast from St. Croix Valley Vineyard grapes. The result is a somewhat sour, crunchy and delightfully flavorful bite. I also liked the Bircher Mueseli—oats and hazelnuts sprinkled with multi-colored fruity pebbles on top. You’ll also find something deliciously different in the beautifully presented Smoked Salmon Scotch Egg with mustard and dill.
Everything on the menu, and there’s a lot more than just breakfast food, is meant to be guzzled down with beer. The Freehouse has four signature beers brewed right on the premises.
“We brew every pint we pour,” says Brewmaster Tim Piotrowski. “Our goal is to bring customers new flavors, but keep them approachable. We’re no Surly, and we don’t want to be. If you want a great beer paired with fantastic food—this is it.”
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