Best New Restaurants 2011
(page 3 of 3)
1750 Hennepin Ave. / Mpls. / 612-253-3410 / walkerart.org
The headline when Gather opened was, “D’Amicos chase out Wolfgang Puck!” But for a lot of people, the transition to a lunch-only eatery (except for Thursday dinner) was a head-scratcher. Why sacrifice the dinner service that goes with one of the metro’s prettiest, most romantic dining-room vistas—the panorama views from the Walker Art Center? Insiders would be quick to tell you it was so D’Amico could cater weddings in the space, but the big surprise for the metro was just how good a restaurant serving dinner just one night a week could be. Chef Josh Brown’s cooking is exquisitely developed—his tuna crudo, with jewels of tuna paired with other gems of carefully cut orange, is elegant and light; his slow-cooked wild salmon on warm faro salad is as light as a sunbeam, but much more filling. If you happen to have any excuse to visit Gather on a Thursday, perhaps a Thursday birthday or a Thursday anniversary, you’ll walk out feeling as if you’ve been somewhere incredibly special, and will likely write a headline of your own: “Yum!”
9. Sun Street Breads
4600 Nicollet Ave. / Mpls. / 612-354-3414 / sunstreetbreads.com
When solveig tofte announced she was opening her own shop, it was gratifying. Finally, a dedicated showcase for the talents of one of Minneapolis’s premiere bakers, known for her work as Turtle Bread’s longtime head baker, and for her inclusion on the 2008 Bread Bakers Guild of America team in the Olympics of bread baking, the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in France. But when her shop actually opened, the city quickly cleaved into two camps: the baking groupies—and those who love the French fries.
The French fries—who saw those coming?—had just the right amount of tenderness and just the right amount of crispness. They tasted like roasted potatoes, like the French fries made by grandmothers in farm kitchens of yore.
But, cried the bread groupies, how can you bypass the bread for the French fries? Tofte makes a robust applejack rye, a dark and wintry walnut-and-buckwheat-flour bread, a challah as light and tender as cake, and baguettes beyond compare. The two camps will never agree, but now they have the chance to argue the point into the night: Tofte started serving dinner in November.
10. Cocina del Barrio
5036 France Ave. S. / Edina / 952-920-1860 / barriotequila.com
Twin Cities residents have gotten pretty comfortable with the Barrio concept over the last few years, that concept being culinary cocktails exploring tequila and a menu treating Mexican street foods with seriousness. This past March, we got comfortable with the deluxe, sit-down, big-entrée variation on the Barrio style in Edina, Cocina del Barrio. It’s the best Mexican restaurant outside of Minneapolis’s core, and a terrific place to explore what’s possible when great Minnesota ingredients, like pork from Compart Family Farms in Nicollet, Minnesota, meet noble Latin ingredients and techniques, like a robust red mole sauce.
The Next BIG Thing?
The end of the year always brings a flurry of restaurant openings. As we went to press with this issue, I was on the edge of my seat wondering if the following would open in 2011:
Butcher & the Boar
Jack Riebel has been a sleeping giant in the Twin Cities food world the last few years. Of course, the food he has been cooking at the Dakota has been nothing short of wonderful, but this former top toque from La Belle Vie and Goodfellow’s has been lured away from the jazz club by a restaurant going in on the corner of 11th Street and Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. The concept? All-American cuisine, especially wood-grilled and smoked meats, like wild-Texas boar; loads of craft bourbon; and scads of craft beers. There will also be an outdoor beer garden. Is this finally the locavore restaurant for your boozy annual fantasy-football kickoff party? Could be. 1121 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-222-7171, facebook.com/pages/Butcher-the-Boar
Be’Wiched Deli’s new jazz-house and restaurant will be called Icehouse, and will open in Minneapolis on Nicollet Avenue’s Eat Street near 26th Street, in the old Sindbad space. Co-chefs and co-owners Matthew Bickford and Mike Ryan will offer their signature smoked meats and farm-driven, informal plates at everyday price points, to be served beside cocktails designed by La Belle Vie’s bar wizard Johnny Michaels. Watch Twitter for updates. 2528 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., twitter.com/#!/bewicheddeli
What would a homegrown Jewish delicatessen sell in Minnesota? Famed local restaurant consultant Tobie Nidetz and restaurant-owner David Weinstein promise they’ll take their deli to unimagined, uniquely Midwestern heights in Minneapolis’s old Auriga space. Their offerings will include homemade bialys, grass-fed locally produced pastrami, brine pickles, kugel, potato knishes, matzoh ball soup—the works. 1930 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls. ryedeli.com