THE BEAUTIFUL NEW RESTAURANT in the former Farmers & Mechanics Bank building in downtown Minneapolis (now a Westin Hotel) has an appropriate name. Bank (88 S. Sixth St., Minneapolis, 612-656-3255) is appointed with chic booths, counter seating that faces the open kitchen, and private dining rooms, including space in the lower-level vault for banquets of up to 50 people. Also new to downtown is the Landmarc Grill (405 S. Eighth St., Mpls., 612-455-1204) at the Normandy Inn & City Place Suites.
There’s still time for a summer drive to the Afton House Inn (3291 St. Croix Trail S., Afton, 651-436-8883) where the executive chef, Justin Grecco, serves his caesar salad tableside, along with fancy flaming items (steak Diane, bananas Foster) in the dining room and more casual fare in the Catfish Saloon & CafÃ©.
What’s with the new salt craze? Check out the salt selection at Whole Foods Market (3060 Excelsior Blvd., Mpls., 612-927-8141), which follows the trend started at the Premier Cheese Market (5013 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-436-5590), where a variety of salts from around the world are sold in bulk or in special jars, along with shakers, salt cellars, and decorative spoons. There are also various sizes of rock salt and graters to serve yourself.
Among the contestants at the 47th National Chicken Cooking Contest in Birmingham, Alabama, was Sonya Goergen of Moorhead, who made a lovely mustard chicken with dill potatoes. Meanwhile, at the James Beard Foundation Awards in New York City, chefs Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma and Tim McKee of La Belle Vie were Best Chef Midwest nominees and the Pickwick restaurant in Duluth received an America’s Classics award. Kudos to all!
Sue Zelickson is the host of WCCO Radio’s Food for Thought.