Best of the Twin Cities 2009

How to play. Where to shop. What to eat. Who to hire. Got it? Good. Go.

< PLAY >

New Cinema

» With just 60 seats and a 20-foot screen, the Trylon Cinema won’t be showing the latest James Bond blockbuster—or probably any movie made in the digital age. No, this micro-cinema, which opened this summer in a former warehouse, is dedicated to classics and cult favorites: Buster Keaton and Frank Capra, Dog Day Afternoon and The Fly. Trylon founder Barry Kryshka has built a dedicated following of cinema buffs since his Take-Up Productions began organizing film revivals a couple years ago at the Heights and Riverview theaters in Minneapolis. Now, Trylon shows regularly sell out, suggesting that, even in our high-definition age, there’s some magic left in the clickety-clack of an old-fashioned projector. 3258 Minnehaha Ave. S., Mpls., 612-424-5468,

Self-Help Classes

» Ever wander through the Creative Activities building at the Minnesota State Fair and wonder where anyone under the age of 114 learned to craft a tea cozy out of calico knickers? Or to build a battleship at 1/750-scale? Or even just to pickle beets? Now, thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society’s DIY! Workshops, you can discover your inner blue-ribbon winner. The series offers a hands-on approach to preserving history—along with the occasional radish—as experts demonstrate how to create everything from victory gardens and stop-motion animation films to stylish clothes crafted out of unfashionable duds. Minnesota Historical Society, 345 Kellogg Blvd. W., St. Paul, 651-259-3015,

Hip Gallery

» Sibling accountants Alyssa and Mark Fox were already the coolest bean counters around, aiming their tax services at artists and musicians, when, in 2007, they branched out their business into a gallery named, logically enough, Fox Tax Gallery. Their shows spotlight up-and-coming local photographers, painters, and graphic artists. And given their customer base, openings are inevitably a funky gathering of Twin Cities talent. Between January and April, when the Foxes are busy processing about 2,600 returns, they hold an annual show cheekily called Art Form 1040, selling 10 prints of certain works for $40 apiece. Who knew taxes could be so fun? 503 First Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-824-2829,

Variety Show

» Sample Night Live seemed like a gimmick at first—a smorgasbord of a dozen different acts, from dance to improv comedy, teasingly proffered in a single evening like theatrical channel surfing. How filling could any of these morsels be? But SNL, held the first Wednesday of every month at the History Theatre in St. Paul, has evolved into a quality showcase. Local and visiting troupes try out new material or preview upcoming shows: This summer, Cirque du Soleil offered glimpses of its Kooza production. At its best, SNL is definitely more than the sum of its parts. 30 E. 10th St., St. Paul, 651-788-5992

New-Music Venue

» With its weathered proscenium arch and crumbling columns, the Southern Theater has long been the most atmospheric place in town to see dance performances. But this year it staked a new claim as a premier presenter of indie-rock and avant-garde music. From the edgy classical composer Nico Muhly, who performed there this spring, to the jazz-influenced Dirty Three, who played there last month, the art world’s freshest, most celebrated acts now have a Twin Cities venue every bit as cool as they are. 1420 Washington Ave. S., Mpls., 612-340-1725,

Art Classes

» It’s a medium you probably didn’t know existed. But fire art—made by heat, spark, or flame, yielding everything from sculpture to jewelry to fire-breathing—now has its own home, in the newest and funkiest arts center in Minneapolis. The Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center just opened in a former movie theater, where artists weld and wield blowtorches and pound on anvils—a blacksmith shop without all the horses. And soon, you, too, can learn the incendiary arts—through classes that promise to be a very hot ticket. 3749 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-701-5030,

New Bike Trail

» Most bike trails pass through pastoral landscapes. The new Dakota Rail Regional Trail offers more a vicarious pleasure along with the usual exercise: a peep into the Lake Minnetonka lifestyle. Skirting well-groomed backyards, the flat, paved path begins near downtown Wayzata, then wends 13.5 miles along the lake’s north bays. The Minnetonka Drive-In tempts bicyclists with burgers and floats. There’s a golf course…and then another golf course. Didn’t bring a nine-iron? Then bike up to Big Stone Mini Golf, watched over by penned goats. You know you’re nearing the end when you see the sign for the Hercules missile in St. Bonifacius (yes, there’s a missile shell in a playground here).

Social Director

» It’s commonly believed that Kate Iverson has not slept in years. How else can you explain the fact that the indefatigable Iverson has helped produce or promote just about every cool arts and fashion event in the Twin Cities, from Art-A-Whirl to Project Runway showcases to Fall Fashion Week at International Market Square. All this while compiling a popular weekend guide to hip happenings as the editor of L’etoile magazine online. In everything she does, Iverson strives to open up an oft-exclusive scene to the rest of us. “I want people to be excited about the scene, to feel like they’re a part of it,” she says. “Events should encompass the cool vibe of the Twin Cities without being pretentious.” Digital Crush Photography, 612-296-1811,; L’etoile magazine

Dance Lessons

» Interest in all things Brazilian, from tourism to, ahem, grooming, hasn’t been this hot since the girl from Ipanema sashayed into the hearts of norteamericanos in the 1960s. But you don’t have to travel to South America to realize your Copacabana dreams. In Uptown Minneapolis, the new studio Central Do Brasil offers classes in samba dance, capoeira (a bewitching blend of martial arts and dance), West African dance, and other indigenous arts. They even teach Brazilian jujitsu—not a bad thing to know if someday you wander into the wrong part of Rio. 2609 Aldrich Ave., Mpls., 612-532-5719,

Electrifying Happy Hour

» Call it a shockingly good time, because about the last place you’d expect to find a great happy hour is in the electricity-themed Bakken Museum. Yet the Bakken’s Evening Out events, held the second Tuesday of each month, show off a side of the educational institution that the kids running through the halls during the day wouldn’t appreciate: the museum’s beauty. The Bakken is housed in a Tudor-style mansion on Lake Calhoun, and at night one can wander the gardens, listen to live music, or mingle among the museum’s 2,000 scientific instruments, pausing to take a guess at the monthly “mystery object” unearthed from the Bakken’s vault. Who cares if it’s the geekiest happy-hour idea ever—especially when there’s complimentary wine and appetizers? 3537 Zenith Ave. S., Mpls., 612-926-3878,

Cooking Classes

» The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum puts its homegrown ingredients right where they belong: in the hands of well-known local chefs (and eventually in your mouth). The Arboretum’s monthly cooking demos, called Dinner with a Chef, may be less hands-on than other classes, but they’re conducted by some of the Twin Cities’ top chefs, such as Mike Phillips of Craftsman Restaurant and cookbook author Raghavan Iyer. They emphasize entrées that use sustainable, high-quality foods, and attendees get to enjoy three different wine pairings. Throughout the year, the arboretum supplements this popular series with classes by its resident chef, Jenny Breen, who explores specific food topics, like last year’s class on edible aphrodisiacs. Not surprisingly, that one sold out. 3675 Arboretum Dr., Chaska, 952-443-1422,

New Producers

» Power Balladz, a raucous trip through the 1980s hard-rock scene and the first show created by Mike Todaro and Dan Nycklemoe, a.k.a. the Producing House, sold out the Lab Theater in Minneapolis this summer. It also established a winning formula: populist theme, respected director (Peter Rothstein), T-shirt cannon. Todaro and Nycklemoe, who describe their mission as simply “profitability,” believe the talent is here to be making long-lived shows and sending them out—to Las Vegas, to Broadway—instead of importing them. “We want to create a reverse conduit,” says Nycklemoe. The down-to-earth duo is now taking Power Balladz on the road, producing a similar blues-and-soul revue called Crossroads this fall, and even staging a revue of Noël Coward songs at the Guthrie Theater next spring called Coward’s Women. Don’t expect a T-shirt cannon, though.

Cool Kids’ Stuff

» If you’re the sort who looks at modern art and thinks, “My kid could do that,” then prove it at the Walker Art Center’s Arty Pants Play Dates. While parents wouldn’t normally dream of bringing their preschoolers into the Walker’s sparse, modern galleries, all the usual art etiquette goes out the window when these hands-on projects, films, and story times take over. Plus, it’s all free with admission, and each play date is tied to a current exhibit, so parents are just as engaged as their kids. 1740 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600,

< SHOP >

Women’s Boutique

» You know those shops where the salespeople never acknowledge your presence? Where everything in the store is nice, but nothing is exciting? Where you’re afraid to look at a price tag—and usually leave without buying anything? Stop. It doesn’t have to be this way. At Picky Girl, you’ll be greeted by the adorable store owner (or one of her perky sidekicks), dazzled by the killer clothing and accessories, and overjoyed when you realize that most of it costs under $100. It pays to be picky. 949 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-698-4107

Skincare Product

» Take one part garbanzo powder, a handful of ground oats, a sprinkling of ground flax seeds, a dash of turmeric, and what do get? No, not curried granola, but the recipe for a mind-blowing facial cleanser from Hooked Studios Skincare. It turns out this wholesome, organic concoction can clear up acne, boost radiance, and diminish the signs of aging. We’re hooked.

Resale Shop

» If digging through piles of someone else’s old clothes is your idea of “treasure hunting,” then by all means—go to a garage sale. But if perusing a well-edited selection of next-to-new designer shoes, handbags, and clothing in a charming, vintage-y setting sounds more appealing, then add June to your list of places to shop. 3406 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-354-3970,

Shopping Site

» Babies. Puppies. Cookies. Some things just make us smile, and Olive & Myrtle is one of them. For this eco-conscious online shop, proprietor (and former Target art director) Aaron Porvaznik insists on good design and good products—and we’re not complaining one bit. From baby gifts to home décor, everything is sustainable or certified-organic, some of it is locally made, and all of it is fun to look at. Happy shopping!


» Wallpaper is back in a big, bold way and nothing makes us want to jump on this trend like the artist-designed coverings from Hygge & West. The graphic, retro-tinged patterns from this Minneapolis-based online shop could transform a room—and convert any colorphobe. You may never look at paint the same way again.

Best-Kept Secret

» If you’ve ever stopped for a scone at Turtle Bread Company in Linden Hills, you’ve probably noticed Rick Rack, the big red house next door, and wondered what was inside. Please, allow us: room upon room of cozy knits, statement jewelry, affordable but equally stylish handbags, cheerful tableware and linens, shabby-chic furniture, gift-worthy wall art, and European flea-market finds for the home. Wandering the nooks and crannies of this neighborhood spot is half the fun of discovering its hodgepodge of treasures. 3413 W. 44th St., Mpls., 612-746-4160,

Gift Store

» When it comes to out-of-the-ordinary gifts (or things you don’t need but really want) the Walker Art Shop delivers in spades. Browse the deep collection of art books, the local- and globally sourced jewelry, the cool minimalist gadgets, the contemporary home décor, and the creative toys and games, and you’ll be a patron for life. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7633,

Outdoor Furniture

» Duluth-based Loll Designs’s contemporary and eco-conscious take on the classic Adirondack chair might be a runaway hit with designers and environment-enthusiasts (everything is made from recycled milk jugs), but all you need to know is that Loll’s colorful, durable, clean-lined, curl-up-with-a-book-comfortable loungers are the most compelling argument for endless summer in Minnesota.

Local Finds

» The fact that I Like You features the works of more than 60 local and independent artisans is just the beginning of its charm. Set in a rehabbed Nordeast warehouse outfitted with whimsical, grass-like carpeting and a wooden playground swing, this little-shop-that-could elevates quirky, handmade goods (think sock-monkey T-shirts and cheeky greeting cards) from crafty to collectible. 501 First Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-208-0249,

Personalized Stationary

» Leave it to Lunalux to modernize old-fashioned correspondence. Once a month, the celebrated letterpress shop on Loring Park fires up a printer for Stationary Saturdays. Owner Jenni Undis selects a design and color for the day; you show up and personalize it with initials, a name, or a message before the cards are printed on the spot. Cost: $29 for set of 10 cards and envelopes. 1618 Harmon Pl., Mpls., 612-373-0526,

Home Décor

» Kerry Ciardelli makes it easy to travel the world without leaving Minnesota. The Victory proprietress and interior designer has an eagle eye for exquisite vintage and modern home décor, which she handpicks on her own adventures. Victory’s elegant mix of gilt chaises, John Robshaw bedding, fashionable coffee-table books, and private-label pillows ensures you will leave with a unique piece. Glean more design inspiration (and special store discounts) from Ciardelli’s personal blog, 3505 W. 44th St., Mpls., 612-926-8200,

Pop-Up Shop

» In the case of Greed Gone Wild, desire is more of a virtue than a sin. At this biannual high-end garage sale, some of the Cities’ most notable fashion and tabletop stylists team up to sell the fantastic loot they’ve acquired from photo shoots and endless shopping expeditions. At Greed Gone Wild, their good taste is your good fortune. Fashionistas have been known to scoop up Pucci dresses, and interior designers can score all manner of vintage furniture—all at huge discounts. The next sale is November 19­ to 21, but you’ll also want to sign up for e-mail alerts for future events. 2014 Central Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-789-6006,

Yoga Clothes

» When you’re jetting from office to om, there’s nothing worse than forgetting your stretchy pants. Brandyn Herbold and Mario Negri stock their Sigh Yoga + Boutique with gorgeous gear you can wear for the day’s downward-dog pose and beyond. In addition to Yogitoes towels and Jade mats, Sigh sells insanely comfortable clothing from locally made Foat Design, chic and colorful Cura pants, and private-label headbands and tees. For on-the-go students, that’s a huge you-know-what of relief. 612 W. 54th St., Mpls., 612-824-1317,

Wall Art

» If you fantasize about decorating your living room with high-art photos but are on a poster budget, head to Started by a band of local ad-agency veterans, this slick site peddles professional photographers’ gallery-quality prints at affordable prices. The artist gets 50 percent of the sale and you get to hang a surreal landscape by Linda Plaisted or sophisticated still life by Phil Bode for less than $100.


» Intoto’s designer selection reads like the who’s who of Fashion Week: Paul Smith, Etro, and Rogan for men, and 3.1 Phillip Lim, Marni, and Dries Van Noten for women. While prices usually reflect the lofty labels, they seriously drop during the store’s final sales in July and January when everything is marked down 50 to 70 percent. Our advice: Join the mailing list for sale dates, then arrive early. High fashion moves fast. 3105 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-822-2414,

Retail Corner

» Over the past few years, the block of early 20th-century buildings at the corner of Selby & Snelling in St. Paul has been renovated and modernized to accommodate an exceptional collection of locally owned boutiques. Shop for message onesies at Rebel Ink, vintage frocks at Lula, party clothes at A. Michele, pretty lingerie at Flirt, and hip gifts at Patina. Then refuel in the leafy courtyard with a latte from Cosmic’s Coffee and melt-in-your-mouth peanut butter hideaway cookies from Two Smart Cookies. You’ll never miss the mall. A. Michele, 651-917-6966; Cosmic’s Coffee, 651-645-0106; Flirt, 651-698-3692,; Lula, 651-644-4110,; Patina, 651-644-5444,; Rebel Ink, 651-647-0655,; Two Smart Cookies, 612-384-1069,

Green Fashion

» With a name like hers, Stephanie Green was probably destined to open an earth-friendly shop. At Ecotique, Green—who also owns Shu Global Footwear—excels at stocking sustainably made clothing that doesn’t sacrifice style. There are super-soft tees and tanks from Alternative Apparel, color-blocked dresses by Kelly Lane, and free-range-bird-feather hair accessories from local label Bethany Lorelle. For organic beauties, the store hosts a mini-shop of makeup and skincare products from Nature of Beauty. 1045 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-222-3127,

< DINE >

Rising Star

» In two short years, chef Jon Radle has transformed Grand Café from a sleepy also-ran into one of the most truly charming spots in Minneapolis, with graceful, thoughtfully composed, never-fussy dishes. Take, for example, his appetizer of diver-caught scallops: It’s seared in such a way that the scallops achieve a deep brown, caramelly crust, yet the flesh remains sweet and dewy. The bivalves are then paired with pickled white asparagus and fresh fennel, a bit of tomato jam, and bright basil oil. It’s complicated enough to invite fascination, but simple enough to disappear in a bite or two. The star behind the show? Radle, who, at age 30, is already one of the area’s most promising talents. 3804 Grand Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-8260,

Social Snacking

» The best possible place to eat cupcakes is actually a bar. For proof, report to the Triple Rock Social Club on a Thursday night, order a Belgian ale, a big, no-kidding-two-hands-required burger, and crispy tater tots. Follow that up with a cupcake from local caterer (and cover star) Miel y Leche. Maybe you’ll get a spicy Mexican chocolate one, or a vegan blackberry one, or, if you’re very, very lucky, the Elvis cupcake, a banana-cake base topped with peanut-butter frosting and garnished with maple-candied bacon. Yes, bacon on a cupcake. Now the genius of your setting becomes clear, eating them in a bar allows you to have two, (or three!) and deny it in the morning. Triple Rock Social Club, 629 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls., 612-333-7399,; Miel y Leche Catering and Bakery,

Seafood Restaurant

» Recently, the journal Science famously predicted that the world’s commercial fisheries would entirely collapse by 2048. Since then, every time we order fish we feel like we’re a 1920s gal buying a Bengal-tiger coat with elephant-ivory buttons. But now, Sea Change, located on the first floor of the Guthrie in Minneapolis’s Mill District, has come along and changed all that! The chefs here work with suppliers to ensure that each and every fish they offer comes from a population that isn’t endangered and is harvested in an environmentally sustainable way. That the fish is inventive and delicious just makes a good thing great. 806 S. Second St., Mpls., 612-225-6499,

Minneapolis Chef

» This has been Tim McKee’s year. He is the first Minneapolis chef to win a James Beard Award, bestowed in recognition of his work at his flagship restaurant, La Belle Vie. He was tapped to lead fine dining at the Guthrie and dazzled us with Sea Change, the region’s first sustainable-seafood restaurant. He created not one, but two standard-bearing, cheap-and-cheerful Mexican restaurants in the form of the Minneapolis and St. Paul locations of Barrio. And, as if that’s not enough, he revived Solera by appointing much-loved local chef J. P. Samuelson to lead the team there. What’s next for McKee, flying backwards around the world to reanimate the accidentally dead? Tim, enough already: Go rest on your laurels so we can enjoy what you’ve done instead of constantly trying to track your next move! La Belle Vie,; Sea Change,; Barrio,; Solera,

St. Paul Chef

» One important measure of a chef’s talent is how much he influences the next generation. When it comes to Lenny Russo, the answer is: more than anyone can calculate. Russo is the chef-owner of Heartland, the restaurant and wine bar synonymous in this area with nose-to-tail, aggressively local cooking. But it’s not just the food that is wonderful at Heartland. It’s the scope of Russo’s ambition and his insistence that there is indeed time to work with farmers and foragers, buy whole hogs and geese and butcher them, make stock, mill flour, put up preserves, and still prep for dinner service. Now young up-and-comers all across town point to him and say: “No whining, no excuses.” Thus, he has changed the culture and aspirations of a whole generation. Heartland, 1806 St. Clair Ave., St. Paul, 651-699-3536,

Minneapolis Restaurant

» What more can be said about La Belle Vie in this magical year, the year when Tim McKee finally won a James Beard Award for this splendid white-tablecloth restaurant? Only that it really is as swooningly spectacular as everyone says, and that the five- or eight-course tasting menu really is as good a meal as you can have in this region, filled as it is with bedazzling, but not overly showy courses such as Little Neck clams with smoked char roe served in a broth derived in some miraculous way from chorizo and fresh white asparagus. Perhaps the only thing to add is that if you think restaurants are solidly unchangeable things, like marble pillars, you’re wrong. Restaurants are more like artists: They have high periods and low, and if you want to know what La Belle Vie is like at its best, go now. 510 Groveland Ave., Mpls., 612-874-6440,

St. Paul Restaurant

» What Americans want in a real French brasserie is good cooking and wine served in a seamlessly lively urban spot. Downtown St. Paul’s Meritage (rhymes with heritage) delivers that, but with some distinctly Midwestern embellishments. Like ultra-budget-friendly appetizers and desserts. Like an endless parade of wine specials, prix fixe options, and the presence of sociable chef-owner Russell Klein. You know that popular image of French chefs chasing people down on sidewalks to avenge a slight to their cooking? You can sooner imagine Klein chasing you down in the street to offer a takeaway helping of dessert, the recipe for his lemon confit (so you can try your hand at that stunning halibut dish at home), or, heck, even a bouquet of daffodils. We all have our own version of Minnesota nice, but this brasserie’s version is particularly irresistible. 410 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-222-5670,

Business Lunch

» There’s one sure way to lure even the most dedicated office drone from his or her cube in downtown St. Paul: Offer to pick up the check at the St. Paul Grill. Of course, your intended target will order the burger. Everyone orders the burger at lunch, because it’s inexpensive and spectacular: rich, tender, well-charred, and paired with the most golden, most sweet and potato-y, most adorable French fries around. Your trap baited and the bait taken, it’s time to make your pitch. 350 Market St., St. Paul, 651-224-7455,


» Local chocolatier B. T. Mc-Elrath has upped the ante and introduced Salty Dog, a chocolate bar that takes his great, satiny dark chocolate, studs it with pieces of his buttery, caramel-deep toffee, and sprinkles it with sea salt. For local chocolate lovers, this bet-you-can’t-eat-just-one form of the all-American candy bar has caused its share of problems. Sure, we can buy one Salty Dog, demolish it with the speed of a whirling cartoon Tasmanian devil, brush the chocolate crumbs off our shirt, and pretend to have some sort of impulse control—but we’re only pretending! We could devour these willpower-obliterating Salty Dogs by the caseload. Available at Lunds, Byerly’s, and Kowalski’s, and online at

Skyway Spot

» Maison Darras, a little unassuming spot in the St. Paul skyways isn’t cartoonishly French in the way so many French restaurants in America, are—with picturesque flowers and baguettes adorning every surface. Instead, it’s subtly, undeniably, essentially, truly French—the way things actually are in France. Really. Ask for a fresh, hot panini filled with, say, prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, and fresh basil leaves and you get a beautifully thin sandwich in which the fillings and bread are both warm and tender, and the exterior is perfectly crisp. Add a creamy, silky, deeply vanilla-scented crème brûlée (served in a disposable ramekin!) and you’ll have a perfectly French skyway meal: It’s all real, all cooked exactly as it should be, not over-sauced, not overstuffed, not meager but not gluttonous. It’s just right, and tasty and tasteful, in the way that only the French seem able to pull off. 401 Robert St. N., St. Paul, 651-379-2770


» Rustica has been the bakery snob’s standard bearer for a few years now: Their boules are meatier, their baguettes somehow both chewier and more tender, their cookies darker, their cakes richer. So when we heard they were moving from their pocket-sized south Minneapolis location to a big fancy new bakery in Calhoun Village, debuting a new super-fancy coffee shop, with coffee siphons and other elite coffee-sipping gear, like Clover coffeemakers (the Bugatti of drip coffee) and also serving pastry on-site till 9 p.m. or so, we were flabbergasted with delight. Looks like 2010 will be Minnesota’s tastiest year for bread yet. New location: 3220 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-822-3730,

Pastry Chef

» One side benefit of the cocktail revolution that has swept the Twin Cities in the last year has been the chance for people to sample Khanh Tran’s desserts at Bradstreet Craftshouse, the ground-floor cocktail-showcasing little sister of fine-dining restaurant Cosmos, where Tran also works. In Bradstreet, she has served little brilliant bites, like a staggeringly lush chocolate-truffle-like slab of cake paired with a dusky black-sesame ice cream that somehow meets the chocolate, veils it, reveals the chocolate’s fruitiness, veils that, and reveals the chocolate’s internal stripe of cocoa. It makes you see chocolate anew, which, in the world of pastry, is the equivalent of running a one-minute mile. Bradstreet Craftshouse, 601 First Ave. N., Mpls., 612-312-1821,

Cake Doughnut

» Cake doughnuts are the humblest of all pastries, just little circles of basic vanilla-flavored cake dough, fried. They emerge from the fryer like nubby little sparrows, humble and cute-ugly, and nuzzle their way right into your soul, speaking as they do of mornings in the country, morning in diners, mornings in cars, in church basements, and other moments of sweetness in plain life. A Baker’s Wife, the old-fashioned neighborhood bakery in south Minneapolis, makes the best: plain as a song, sweet as a sunrise, reliable as a new day dawning. 4200 28th Ave. S., Mpls., 612-729-6898

Ice Cream

» One of the most stylish nights to be had in the Cities can be found at the fashionable Crema Café, home to sorbets and ice cream in such exotic flavors as pine-needle, cardamom–black pepper, pluot, and crème brûlée. But life is not always as stylish as one would like. On those nights, a pint of Sonny’s Ice Cream, available at the grocery store but churned fresh at the café, does a remarkable job of turning dinner in into an all-star extravaganza. We recommend the four-flavored Spumoni. Crema Café, 3401 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-8189,

Raised Doughnut

» Raised and glazed doughnuts are more elevated than cake doughnuts. They take longer to make, because of the yeast that needs to raise up the dough, and they’re more fragile—if the dog sits on your box of raised-glazed doughnuts they will get flat as tortillas. That said, the fragile ethereality of a Mel-O-Glaze Bakery raised-and-glazed doughnut as it yields between your teeth is one of the simplest pleasures available to those who know enough about baking to appreciate the complexity in an airy, dewy, vanishingly tender simple thing. 4800 28th Ave. S., Mpls., 612-729-9316,

< HIRE >

Kitchen Renovation

» If you’re remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, Casa Verde can make your space sustainably chic. Open since November 2008, the elegant showroom and retail shop carries cabinets made from Forest Stewardship Council–certified woods, energy efficient Sub-Zero appliances, and Simon Pearce home accessories. Designer Rosemary Merrill can customize every aspect of a kitchen to fit your home’s architecture and your lifestyle, while incorporating her inclination toward classic, eco-luxe aesthetics. 911 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-353-4401,

Dry Cleaner

» With impeccable service and a bright atmosphere, Mulberrys Garment Care seems more like a Starbucks than a dry cleaner. Take advantage of the drive-through service and Sunday hours, or stop in for coffee and juice, and Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products. Unlike traditional cleaners who rely on chemicals, Mulberrys utilizes a pressurized carbon-dioxide process that doesn’t leave a stale smell. The eco-friendly boutique cleaner is also price-conscious: $2.99 for a shirt to $13.99 for a two-piece suit. 3900 W. Lake St., St. Louis Park, 612-886-2348; 615 W. 53rd St., Mpls.,


» Need something—anything—done around the house? Then Mark Nelson of Cut Above Construction is the handyman for you. He’ll take on everything from a simple task (hanging curtains or plasmas) to more complex projects (custom cabinets and constructing decks). And, with 26 years in business under his tool belt, Nelson is a pro at keeping noise and plaster crumbs to a minimum. Cut Above Construction, 612-709-7330

Bra Fittings

» Give your girls a boost with a proper bra fitting from La Bratique’s Tracy Anderson. In her cozy space on the lower level of swimsuit shop Nani Nalu, Anderson works with clients to find the band and cup sizes that do them the most favors. She has support solutions for wee cleavage (30A from the Little Bra Company) to the well-endowed (up to 42G), with plenty of options in between. Appointments recommended; 3922 W. 50th St., Edina, 612-325-6620,


» There is a big difference between someone who can do alterations and a true tailor, who can pattern a dress or construct a suit. Marina Shimelfarb of Perfect Fit by Marina has been expertly fixing and fashioning clothes for more than 20 years. In addition to basic hemming ($10) and more extensive alterations to suits and wedding gowns, Shimel-farb creates original designs for women (plus-size is her specialty) and casual looks for men. She also can mend the trickiest of knits, starting at just $6 for a small hole. 597 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, 651-646-0111,

Jewelry Repair

» Don’t let broken or ill-fitting trinkets tarnish in your drawer when Landmark Jewelers can make them look like new. From ring sizing to watch cleaning to replacing 14K gold clasps, service is sterling here, and your valuable baubles are in good hands. While Landmark has been open just three years, the shop’s top-notch team of former Bockstruck Jewelers staff has a combined 125 years experience in the business. 21 Sixth St. W., St. Paul, 651-222-2282,

Shoe Repair

» At George’s Shoe & Repair, no sole is beyond saving. The George family has been in business since 1905, and it shows in their workmanship. When it comes to restoring an old pair of boots, fixing an intricate detail on a purse, cleaning those salt-soaked Uggs, or changing last year’s stiletto heels to make them party-worthy again, this is the place. Repairs start at $9, but extra holes in a belt or a shoe strap are free. 3673 Lexington Ave., Arden Hills, 651-636-1312,; 672 1/2 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-227-8258,

Dog Walker

» On the days when you have to go to work to bring home the kibble, John Jones of Concerning Dogs will pick up the leash where you left off. He can walk your pooch as many times a day as the little guy needs, and will dog-sit when you’re away. Available at a moment’s notice, Jones’s forte is flexibility, so your dog can maintain a normal schedule. He also keeps a diary so you know exactly what Rover has been up to all day. (Jones currently serves territory between Richfield and Uptown.) 612-869-4306,

Event Planner

» When The Style Laboratory plans your party, all you have to do is put on your party dress and show up. Founder Geri Wolf has planned events of all sizes—from nuptials where the only invitees were the couple (Wolf served as witness and event designer), to a 1,400-person dinner for former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani. Wolf’s personal approach, discriminating tastes, creative-design capabilities, and Rolodex of exceptional venues and vendors means she—or rather, you—will throw a memorable fete. 612-825-4705,

Fresh Meal Delivery

» Need a staycation from cooking? Try a week of Solo by Bonicelli. The food-delivery service features nutritious daily dishes prepared with fresh, straight-from-the-farmers’ market ingredients. The Italian-influenced menu shifts weekly, but always includes three meals a day. Think chewy breakfast bars with oats, sunflower seeds, honey, and dried fruit, or risotto with artichoke hearts, smoked salmon, and Parmesan cheese. Each gourmet feast is prepared by Laura Bonicelli, who spent years producing food for photo shoots. This fall, look for less-expensive frozen meals and cooking classes at her northeast Minneapolis space. 612-812-3332,

Diaper Service

» If you’ve made the decision to ditch the disposables, Do Good Diapers’s delivery-and-laundering services will take care of the dirty work. Inspired by a comparable company in Colorado, Peter and Kathy Allen (who recently had their first baby) started their service a year ago. For as little as $19 a week—about the same price as throwaways—your child can be swaddled in clean, soft cotton fabric with easy-to-assemble Velcro closures. Bonus: Research shows that cloth diapers promote earlier potty training. 612-990-2183,

Frame Shop

» When it comes to good framing, it’s easier to get it wrong than it is to get it right. For more than 20 years, Carter Avenue Frame Shop has taken apart do-it-yourself projects gone awry, and turned them into gallery-worthy, picture-perfect artwork. Owner Tim Smith and his team excel at helping customers find the right design, color, proportion, and style ­of frame to suit their style. The shop promises to finish your project within a week, and guarantees all work. 2186 Como Ave., St. Paul, 651-645-7862,

Kids Photos

» If, like most, your child never stops running in circles long enough to take a good photo, enlist Sewell Photography. Jennie Sewell’s documentary-style snapshots capture beautiful moments amid the chaos. Instead of impersonal, perfectly posed pics, you’ll get expressive, natural photos that illustrate your child’s unique personality. As a bonus, her incredibly reasonable fee includes a proof book, an online gallery, and an early preview of shots that she features on her delightful blog. 612-799-1245,

Car Wash

» There’s a certain je ne sais quoi that comes with having a new car. Maybe it’s the stain-free rugs, dust-free dash, or that new-car smell. Whatever it is, the full-service Ultimate Clean at Regal Auto Wash will restore that fresh, clean feeling—in about 20 minutes. They’ll clean every inch of your vehicle, inside and out (coffee-stained carpets, dirty cup holders and all), and top it off with an air freshener. “We like it when you walk away feeling like you have a new car,” says one location manager. Yeah, we like that, too. Five metro locations,


Fun at Any Price

$0 Wine tasting at France 44 (or Solo Vino or the Little Wine Shoppe or Dolce Vita, etc.).
$5 First-run movies at the Parkway Theater.
$8 Ticket to ascend to the 31st-floor outdoor observation deck at the W Minneapolis–The Foshay.
$10 Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Neighborhood series.
$12 Flight of three premium glasses of sake at Moto-i.
$25 New “Jazz at the Jungle” Series at the Jungle Theater, featuring Connie Evingson, et al.
$28 The cheap seats to Broadway hit In The Heights at the Orpheum Theatre this December.
$60 Front-row VIP seats to Broadway Rocks! at Orchestra Hall this month, from Phantom of the Opera to Dreamgirls.
$80  Snorkeling with the sharks, puffer fish, and stingrays at Underwater Adventures.
$95  Glass of Patron Burdeos tequila at Barrio.
$249 The Steak and a Shave Package at the St. Paul Hotel, including a steak dinner at the St. Paul Grill, a $50 voucher for a shave and haircut at Heimie’s Haberdashery, and a deluxe room.
$455 The Celebration Package at the Graves 601 hotel, including champagne upon arrival, breakfast, dinner, a whirlpool room, and a late checkout at 3 p.m.
$790 Two-person hot-air balloon ride over the St. Croix River Valley with Aamodt’s.
$1,450 Helicopter charter tour of the Twin Cities at night, or anywhere else you want to go, for five to six people.
$2,500 For the 1,000-square-foot Rock Star Suite at the Chambers Hotel.

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A go-to shop for fantastic, luxe-looking accessories, Fringe proves that budget-conscious doesn’t have to mean cheap. This is the place to complete an outfit with one of fall’s must-have statement necklaces, oversized watches, or colorful scarves—each for about $20 or less. Of Fringe’s two locations, the newest in Edina looks and feels as rich as the merchandise. 3906 W. 50th St., Edina, 952-746-4922


Flutter opened in 2006 as a modern, bridesmaids-only boutique. Lucky for brides, many of the dresses from coveted lines such as Thread, Simple Silhouettes, and Lela Rose are also available in white or ivory—making them the perfect, affordable option for a bride who wants to wear a designer gown. Prices range from $188 to $1,620. (Appointments required.) 720 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-216-1926,

Home Furnishings

A single piece of furniture can inspire an entire room. Owners/interior designers Ginny Romens and Lynn Anderson stock The Find with plenty of muses. Whether it’s an ornate glass chandelier or a hand-painted buffet, there’s no shortage of distinctive pieces at bargain prices. Scour the spacious back room, where slightly imperfect items are 50-percent off. 7820 Eden Prairie Rd., Eden Prairie, 952-975-3900,

Men’s Clothing

Tucked away in an unassuming corridor of Southdale Center, Len Druskin Outlet hosts a dizzying array of designer menswear at 50 to 90 percent off original retail prices. Some of the clothing and accessories are markdowns from Len’s two trendsetting boutiques; others are exclusive to the outlet. All of it—from the Diesel denim to the Penguin polo shirts—is a total steal. 1630 Southdale Center, Edina, 952-920-0472,

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Personal Stylist

Corset (kor-set)/n./ 1. A close-fitting and often laced medieval jacket. Or 2. An image-building, time-saving, life-changing wardrobe service, as in Corset, for women who hate to shop for, or style, themselves. It’s run by a team of down-to-earth gals who will get you out of your rut and into something fabulous by creating and delivering fully styled outfits to your front door.

Baby Goods

Tiny, beautiful baby things abound at Oscar & Belle, and yes—they’re worth every penny. Anna Gustafson sets her sweet Linden Hills shop apart by using only hand-harvested organic cotton for every baby-soft onesie, hoodie, and cardigan she designs. The timeless pieces are definitely keepers. 2812 W. 43rd St., Mpls., 612-216-3738,


For designer-shoe fanatics, a visit to Pumpz & Company will feel like the mothership calling you home. Sleek and posh like a penthouse, this fashion-forward shoe salon has a serious selection of luxury footwear—with high-end handbags and jewelry to boot. In other words: If Rachel Zoe set foot in here, she would die. 3335 Galleria, Edina, 52-926-2252,

Women’s Boutique

You know that scene in Pretty Woman, where Julia Roberts’s character gets snubbed at that hoity-toity clothing store on Rodeo Drive? That would never happen at OPM. At this sleek shop at Excelsior & Grand, designer labels like Valentino, Catherine Malandrino, and Loeffler Randall, are only upstaged by the friendly, down-to-earth service you’ll receive. 3700 Grand Way, St. Louis Park, 952-567-7399,

 Food at Any Price

$0 Samples at Surdyk’s. Yes, it’s a crush during the holidays, but wine samples and tastes of olives and cheeses in the gourmet shop make it a grand cocktail party.
99¢ The St. Paul Bagelry’s everything bagel is dense, chewy, and sweet as a real New York bagel.
$2.25 La Loma’s locally made, earthy, spicy and generously filled tamales: The chili-laced pork is our favorite.
$3.50 How good is the lamb BLT at Saffron? It’s so good we bet you can’t eat just 10. Only from 4 to 6 p.m.
$6.49 Potato knish from Mort’s Delicatessen. It’s weighty, creamy and devourable. As a whole one packs 1,000 calories, it’s also the ideal food to take to the ice-fishing shack.
$7 Smelt fries at Red Stag Supperclub are delicious and authentic to local history, a delicious taste of our grandparents’ world.
$12 The price of a sake tasting flight at America’s first sake-brewpub, Lyn-Lake newcomer Moto-i, works out to about one cent per bragging right if you Twitter your friends in other cities to let them know you’re drinking something they can’t get.
$45 The prix fixe at Alma is reliably dazzling and surprisingly humble. We dare you to find anyone, foodiest food snob or shyest grandma, who doesn’t find it intensely satisfying.
$795 Hog’s Back Farm, in Arkansas, Wisconsin, offers a standard summer CSA share for $595—18 weeks of 40-odd fruits and vegetables, from garlic scapes to strawberries to broccoli, which they deliver to drop-off sites in the Twin Cities. Add another $200 for a winter share, including storage crops like potatoes and garlic.
$800–$1,200 The most expensive meal typically on offer in Minneapolis is the $200-a-head, nine-course tasting menu on offer at the kitchen table at Cosmos. Bring a crowd!