Dining Dish: Casting Off the Shackles of Winter

The doldrums of the restaurant year exists between January 1st and February 13th. It seems like almost no one is leaving the house and with these frigid temperatures we’ve endured, why would you? However, the biggest dining out day of the year is upon us and that means we’re a sneeze away from spring. The flowers will bloom, seeds will be sown and all kinds of exciting restaurants will throw open their doors.

As for the big day, I say skip Valentine’s Day (the reservations are gone, anyway.) The event I would like to best snuggle with my sweetie at is Gastro Non Grata this Sunday evening. Thomas Kim of The Rabbit Hole will be serving his fantastic dishes to some rocking tunes from local bands inside Triple Rock Social Club. My fella and I fell in love inside a few of Minneapolis/St. Paul’s most hallowed rock n roll dives and this event is right up our alley. Kim will be serving small bites including roasted sweet potato skewers with arugula, bacon vinaigrette and blue cheese whip; kimchi olives with braised pig skin and mini wang mandoo (which is the most Valentine’s-y dish name ever. It’s a dumpling, but I often refer to my dumpling as the main wang dude.) Tickets are available ahead of time or at the door for $15. Doors open at 6:30 and organizers promise the party starts immediately. 

New restaurant openings this week include La Fresca from Chef Hector Ruiz, of Rincon 38 and Cafe Ena. The menu is stacked with fresh “nuevo” Mexican options.

Speaking of fresh, there are new fast-casual spots opening up from unexpected owners. Dunn Bros has dipped a toe into the business with Makers Cafe, which is now open in Edina serving quick, fresh meals made with some local ingredients. There’s also a display of Etsy sourced products available for purchase. Also, Lunds and Byerly Kitchen is getting into the act with their new shop opening up in downtown Wayzata. They’ve partnered with Butcher and the Boar for a charcuterie station and will have sandwiches, grab and go, dine-in options all with Caribou Coffee, who will be roasting beans on site.

Meanwhile, a restaurant institution, the Modern Cafe in Northeast, known for their refined take on comfort foods and a pot roast worth crawling over broken glass to get to, has announced they’re expanding. A picture posted on their Twitter page shows the roomier digs. They joked there would be some Sochi-style bathrooms. At least, I think they were joking?

Plus, it looks like a rebirth is on the horizon for the darkened True Thai space. A Facebook page has gone live for Druken Fish with enticing images of sushi and the promise of Thai selections. They hope to open in early April.