In these days of new chefs opening new restaurants, it’s easy to miss the quiet kitchen takeovers. That was the case with me for Spill the Wine. I knew they had some fresh blood behind the line, but didn’t realize at first that it was Brian Hauke. Hauke was known for his work at Red Stag (among others) before leaving to open Merchant in Madison. With a stage in between at Alinea and some time as a private chef on a tropical island for some well-pedigreed clients, he’s returned home and set up shop inside Katie Greeman’s sweet Uptown spot. She was kind enough to host me for a recent meal, and the food he’s doing is delicious. A lamb tartare (a challenging protein to serve in that style) was a gorgeous play on texture and subtly. Luscious, cool meat spiked with mint, wrapped in lettuce and served with a frothy celery root cream was revelatory. Just hearing him talk about his hollandaise has me plotting a brunch return. This might even be the chef to convince me curly parsley is a good thing.
St. Paul has got themselves a new burger spot. Red Cow is now open for business. Cathedral Hill residents will barely recognize the former Costello’s interior. The space, is sleek, open and beautifully lit. At first bite, the burgers are beautifully seasoned and cooked to perfection.
If you’re in a breakfast way, Tiny Diner is now up and running in South Minneapolis. The Kim Bartmann owned spot sports enormous solar panels (that actually make the patio the coolest summer seat around) and all kinds of green enhancements as she continues to lead the way in restaurant sustainability. Inside the kitchen is T.J. Rawitzer who has worked at La Belle Vie and Masu before this opportunity. The menu will change periodically to highlight some regional diner specialties. The Pennsylvania scrapple was a scrapping hunk of meaty bits fried up and served with two eggs my way.
Training is in full swing out at 6 Smith and they’re on track to open next weekend with JP Samuelsson running the kitchen in this Wayzata spot. With stunning views and a team of experienced restaurant pros running the show, it’s quite possible that even those that fear leaving the 494 loop will be making regular treks out West.
If you’re the sort that can’t wait to try the next new thing, this Monday’s HOTlist event is your hot ticket. Tim McKee will be sharing early samples of his forthcoming Libertine and all the best chefs in town will be showing off their culinary chops. Year after year it’s the single best evening for getting a bite of every restaurant in town you wish you got to visit more often. Plus, there will be a collective of fantastic drink shakers. The event benefits Share Our Strength, whose goal is to end childhood hunger. As we’re approaching summer, a lot of food insecure kids and family are staring down the barrel of some long, scary days where eating healthful meals isnt’ a guarantee. Tickets are still available, but we have two general admission tickets that you can win! Just Tweet at @MNMOmag using the hashtag #HOTlist2014 and tell us which of the restaurants participating (here’s that list that you’re most looking forward to tasting. We’ll choose a winner at random at noon tomorrow. Good luck!