2016 has been an extremely slow year for exciting new restaurants. Honestly the best ones opened in December of 2015—Mucci’s, St. Genevieve, and Upton 43. Yes, we’ve had some nice neighborhood spots like Xavi and Costa Blanca Bistro, but where’s the big stuff?
It’s coming. Just like Oscar season, the end of the year seems to bring a flurry of action. Some of which we’ve been able to preview.
Cafe Alma: Opening Friday, November 11th, this cafe is beautiful and along with the small hotel upstairs, I predict Alma will redefine hospitality and take the spot as the top dining complex in the Twin Cities.
Restaurant Alma has always been fantastic culinarily, but as I wrote in my re-review this year, the room was dated. No longer. The cafe will be open all day: great coffee, amazing pastries, perfect small plates alongside awesome Bittercube cocktails, and the perfect wine list Alma’s always been known for. Buckle up: the restaurant reopens at the end of the month.
Punch Bowl Social: Long an empty anchor corner at the Shops at West End, Punch Bowl Social is going to be a lot of fun. Celebrity Chef Hugh Acheson is the culinary director for this small chain of restaurants based in Denver, and it’s huge.
24,000 square feet with a diner, three bars, six lanes of bowling, several bocce ball courts, ping-pong, shuffleboard, skee-ball—it’s something else. Bottom line for me: the cocktails are great (and priced between $8-10) and the food seems solid (I tried it as a media previewer, so who knows what it will be like when Hugh is out of town and I’m not getting a custom tour). But: I liked Hugh’s Pimento Cheese, the confit St. Louis Ribs, and the fried chicken biscuit. Punch Bowl opens Saturday, November 12.
Tullibee at Hewing Hotel: Tullibee is a native herring, it’s going to be Scandinavian-inspired, and the first table available on Open Table is Thursday, November 17th. Chef Grae Nonas was one of Food & Wine Magazine‘s Best New Chefs last year for his work at Olamaie in Austin, Texas. Brought here to run Tullibee, Nonas says his mom’s grandparents are from Norway, so he’ll be drawing on that inspiration. This looks like a 100% dive into fine dining to me, I’m a little skeptical that this is what diners in the Twin Cities want right now, but I’m also excited to see something on the high end after a year of busts.
Revival St. Paul: I walked through this space yesterday, and it’s going to be cool. In the old Cheeky Monkey on Selby, I’m guessing it will be ready by first week of December, maybe as early as Thanksgiving weekend. All the take-out chicken for St. Paul will be ready to rock soon.
Red Rabbit: The latest from Luke Shimp, Red Rabbit is hiring right now and advertising a December opening. This place will have pizzas, pastas, and oysters at 201 N. Washington Avenue. Luke’s Red Cow is one of the fastest growing small businesses in the Twin Cities, he’s been incredibly successful, so I can’t wait to see what he and Chef Todd Macdonald come up with.