I stopped by Café Kem, the new Eat Street restaurant sibling to Jasmine Deli and Jasmine 26, and: Yay! I’ve had my eye on this spot for months, wondering what it would be. Right now it’s a stylish wi-fi hotspot coffee shop that’s open all day and offers under-$4 banh mi and panini, and really good frozen yogurt that’s served with a whole buffet of different toppings to choose from, like healthy fresh blueberries, healthy fresh watermelon, and presumably not-so-healthy, but still very alluring, gummi bears and M&M’s. The frozen yogurt is being offered in off-the-beaten-path flavors like green tea, lychee, mango, and pomegranate, and is pretty delicious. Will this be Minnesota’s entry point for jumping on the cult of Pink Berry? (It sure isn’t Red Cherry, LeeAnn Chin’s attempt to make frozen yogurt. Am I the only one who thinks their original flavor tastes like the orange-flavored children’s cough syrup Triaminic?)
What the place obviously lacks is a wine and beer license. Everything about the dark, stylish interior screams wine bar, not bubble tea, which is what they have—as well as all the good Vietnamese coffees. Still, the owners tell me they plan to get a wine license one day. Until they do, the place is going to be of especial note to everyone who wants to work on their laptop and can’t get a table at Spyhouse or Common Roots.
Oh, and it’s going to be very interesting to parents. You know what Café Kem has that Dairy Queen doesn’t? Fruit to put on the ice cream for the kids, and coffee and banh-mi for you. When I visited this morning, they were playing Clifford the Big Red Dog videos on a big flatscreen TV for two of the restaurant’s kids. So, sick of the usual run of child-friendly coffee shops? On a budget? (My $3.50 banh mi was typically Jasmine Deli excellent, crisp and lively. Though please note they don’t have the many varieties on offer at Jasmine Deli, just a basic deli meat and paté one, and a vegan one.) Put Café Kem on your short list.
2524 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls.