French Meadow Bakery & Cafe was among the first local eateries to scoop the healthy-eating movement out of the co-op bulk bins and serve it to mainstream diners. The café’s new Bluestem Bar & Table, which opened adjacent to its iconic Lyndale Avenue outpost, takes a similar sustainability-minded approach. But bluestem prairie grass in the outdoor planters and a birch-tree forest lining the dining-room walls make the farm-to-table connection in a way that’s subtle enough for a wine bar. (The aerial ag photos near the restrooms, not so much.)
Modest-portioned entrées are priced for mid-week dining, in the teens and low 20s, including salmon with a quinoa-pea cake, and grass-fed steak tenderloin. Both are better choices than the flatbread topped with duck, which wasn’t tender, salty, or rich enough to earn the name confit, or the bulky raw-kale Caesar salad that was tough to chew and lacked its namesake’s characteristic salty punch.
Bluestem’s chicken and waffles are doused with hot sauce, crème fraîche, and pink-peppercorn syrup—a fun combination that pairs better with the cornmeal-crusted bird than the bland, crumbly waffle. But if grits are among the chef’s specials, don’t pass them up. The soft yellow fluff is creamy as scrambled eggs, enriched with shrimp, cheddar, red-eye gravy, and the smoky warmth of Andouille sausage.
Bluestem Bar & Table
2610 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.