Dining Dish: Gavin Kaysen’s Merchant Finds a North Loop Location

Did you notice the roving pack of food writers in the North Loop the past couple of months? We were hunkered down in a majestic wolf-adorned mystery wagon, loaded for bear with artisanal snacks and keeping surveillance on the few empty addresses of the neighborhood. We were watching for Gavin Kaysen and making bets on the address of his much-anticipated restaurant Merchant. Turns out I owe someone a truffle-scented fiver, because the spot isn’t the one I’d incorrectly guessed. Kaysen has confirmed that he will be taking up residence across the street from The Bachelor Farmer in a one-time horse stable with sky-high ceilings and the charms of a by-gone area. It’s also been confirmed, what many expected, that the erstwhile La Belle Vie wine impresario, Bill Summerville will also be working with him on the new spot. Thankfully, we can take a break from the van now, but expect to find us all parked back inside closer to November when the Merchant team hopes to open their doors.

Tonight’s the last night to say farewell to the Torpedo Room inside Eat Street Social for the season. Beginning at 6 p.m. tonight they’ll have half-priced drink specials and free punch for anybody rocking the tropical gear. When they return in the fall, expect Midwestern-influenced tiki drinks. Part-owner and cocktail Svengali Nick Kosevich teased me with three words: “Moloka’i Malt Shop.” I don’t know what he’s talking about, but I’m in.

They aren’t the only guys taking a little summer break. As I mentioned last week, Travail and The Rookery are taking some time to recharge their creative batteries (they’ll be back July 17th). Haute Dish is closing tomorrow through the weekend. You’ll also have to wait to get your omelette fix until after the weekend, Meritage is giving their staff a weekend with their families. Those two will be back in business on Tuesday.

If you’re still wondering what to do to celebrate our national independence, there’s always the Taste of Minnesota. The festival has returned after a hiatus, but the recent floods have forced them to relocate from the underwater Harriet Island. (By the way, did anybody else catch the giant clam shell floating down the river footage and think, “Yum, chowder!”?) The festival begins today at the Carver County fairgrounds with plenty of footlongs, cheese curds, and a little Soul Asylum.

On Saturday night, I think I’ll be taking my family over to the Little Mekong Night Market on University Avenue near Western beginning at 5 p.m. and going until 10 p.m. There will be dragon dancers, Lao Drummers, and a DJ spinning tunes. It’s a great part of town to eat your way through ( Little Szechuan’s new Hot Pot concept and Mai Village are on this block). What better way to celebrate this melting pot country than reveling in a little multicultural fun? There will be plenty of food from local restaurants and a bunch of freshly grown produce.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July, everybody! Eat well.