The rain is washing away those last sandy remnants of that ugly winter and along with all the early daffodils and tulips, there are several exciting restaurants opening up. Jim Christiansen and Lorin Zinter’s Heyday opened their doors and I was able to snag a seat at the bar last night. It was like a who’s who of the local culinary scene with some of the best bartenders, servers and restaurateurs taking seats in the dining room. (Including one Gavin Kaysen, who has the town all aflutter about his restaurant plans).
My first impression is that this is stunning food and a menu so perfectly constructed to compliment the season that I’d really like to eat my way through every well-edited, beautifully constructed dish. A life-changing bowl of little neck clams in broth with rye bread is a stunning, modern take on the classic mussels in white wine.
Zinter uses his best front-of-house ESP type powers to read each table for their service needs, friendly, charming with a sly wit. The music system is pumping out The White Stripes, The Ramones, The Violent Femmes, The Replacements, and basically all the “The” bands that rock. The room is rustic, but elegant; polished, but comfortable, it’s a mix of contradictory elements that works. Their friend Diane Yang, who is the force behind the desserts gave them the sound advice before opening, “Don’t suck.” At first brush, they certainly do not.
Other harbingers of spring are the open doors at Sea Salt and Tin Fish. The park run stands are serving up their seafood centric baskets near the flowing water and ready to be enjoyed.
Sandcastle, beside Lake Nokomis is planning to open May 10th. In addition to mastermind Doug Flicker, there’s a new chef who can be found inside that slate and orange-accented beach spot. Ian Pierce, one time chef at 128 Cafe who has been biding his time inside The Hole in Dinkytown will now be working the line. If we learned anything from his time inside the sports bar it’s that even his most humble bar food gets a little tweak and push into a better flavor world. I can’t wait to taste what that entire team will serve up this season.
Some fun events coming up are a cocktail dinner at Eat Street Social. The magic man of all things great behind the bar, Nick Kosevich (part owner of ESS) has traveled the world, including gay Paris and returned full of inspiration. Next Wednesday, April 30th at 7:00 p.m. they will be hosting a cocktail paired dinner starring Pierre Ferrand cognac. It should be an epic feast paired with the drink voodoo that they do so well. It’s $70 and will likely sell out quickly (I think all their dinners do.) Call the restaurant for reservations.
The Minnesota Zoo is hosting their annual food gala, Fish Bites on May 8th at 6:30 p.m. A partnership between their sustainable seafood program Fish Smart and the top chefs in town who are all committed to only serving sustainable seafood in their restaurants. This year the bill includes Butcher and the Boar, Oceanaire, Smack Shack, Sea Change and more. Tickets are $50 in advance, $55 at the door. More information can be found at the zoo’s website. Proceeds benefit the zoo’s conservation efforts.
Lastly, tonight is Dine Out for Life! More restaurants than ever have signed up to donate a portion of their day’s profit’s to the Aliveness Project that helps those stricken with HIV/AIDS in our community. I barely squeaked in my reservation at Corner Table tonight. Visit Dine Out for Life’s website to see who has a few seats left. I hope to see you out there!