Four Twin Cities Restaurants to Watch This Summer

Details for Rustica’s expansion, Jorge Guzman’s new spot, Justin Sutherland’s the Gnome, and Butcher & the Boar’s return
Steve Horton, Provided Photo

Big news about Rustica: one of Minnesota’s most honored and revered bread bakers is coming back. Founder Steve Horton is leaving Baker’s Field Flour & Bread in the Food Building in northeast Minneapolis to become the CEO of Rustica. He’ll lead operations at Rustica’s new location in Edina’s Southdale Center and the original location on Bde Maka Ska.

“The reward of the daily repetition that a bakery demands from its team is becoming a part of our customers’ daily lives, knowing that they look forward to the products that our staff is busy making in the middle of the night,” said Horton in a statement. “We aim to do that in our new location, to create an experience that allows customers to slow down and savor the moment with something delicious.”

The Southdale location will open next to LifeTime Work on Monday, June 29. (I asked to see it, but they’re putting on the finishing touches and won’t really be ready until Monday.) It’ll remind you a lot of the original, although there’s now a house-blend coffee developed by the Rustica baristas. They’ll tell me they’ll explore more local and regional suppliers, “growing systems that emphasize grain and flour,” look for a new dessert program and perhaps CSA-style deliveries.

Rustica breads, provided photo

They’ll still have Dogwood Coffee for pour-over options (the in-house will be batch brew), as well as Northstar Kombucha and Jinx teas on tap. Some new stuff for Edina: a Challah, a sandwich loaf, and a revamped Focaccia with seasonally rotating toppings.

With Horton leaving the local flour milling operation he founded in the Food Building, Baker’s Field Flour & Bread, what’s the future of that operation? Marketing person Jill Colella tells me – it’s status quo under the leadership of original employees Hannah Rogal and Wes Gardner. “Milling and baking continue and planning for a second mill is currently underway, as Baker’s Field saw a sharp uptick in online flour sales during COVID-19,” she told me.

The Gnome to Open Soon

Fresh off of relocating his Handsome Hog concept to Cathedral Hill in St. Paul, Director of Culinary Justin Sutherland is about to launch the menu at the old Happy Gnome. They’ve removed the “happy” and the Gnome is going to be a supper club concept, still with a pub and craft beer hall focus. The menu will have roasted and shaved meats, sandwiches, build-your own charcuterie boards, tableside cheese raclette, and 100-plus drinks on tap.

Chef Brian Ingram and wife Sarah are the owners. They’ve expanded the patio, strung up 1,000 light bulbs, created an outdoor bar, and redesigned the main floor and the upstairs event space too. Charitable causes will receive 3% of proceeds, same as the Ingrams’ other restaurant Hope Breakfast Bar.

Sutherland and Brian Ingram have been true role models for the community by feeding people during the COVID-19 pandemic and during the protests and memorials to George Floyd. I always believe in supporting good people who do good things, but these two are real standouts in our community and we’re cheering for them both. Follow along on opening updates on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

Jorge Guzman’s New Spot in Kingfield

He was a James Beard Award finalist for his work as the opening chef at Surly Brewing. We’ve missed his food while he was off working in Eau Claire, so it’s exciting that Jorge Guzman will be running the kitchen at his own spot Petite León. The restaurant will open this fall in the former Blackbird spot at 38th and Nicollet Avenue, with an “unpretentious” neighborhood feel.

What kind of food? Certainly Mexican influences, but also Spanish, French, and American. This won’t be precious plates like we saw at Surly’s Brewers Table, but more refined casual. There’s a powerhouse team here, with plans of opening additional concepts. The group is called Duck Soup Hospitality—with Ben Rients, the owner of Lyn 65 and his executive chef Dan Manosack, as well as the tremendous bar man Travis Serbus who was last at Meteor Bar.

Why Petite León? The team says, Jorge’s young son has the astrological sign Leo and Ben is expecting a son this summer who will be named Leo. I mean, it would be OK to just call it Petite León without an explanation, but good luck to the Leo sign, the Leo baby, and the team. Looking forward to it. Updates at PetiteLeonMpls.com

Butcher & the Boar to Reopen

Is Butcher & The Boar open again? Will B&B open again? Well, from the “rumors of their demise are greatly exaggerated” file: Butcher & the Boar will rise again, with plans to open for takeout grill packs on Tuesday, June 30. They’ll sell takeout for four online: a burger and sausage package for $85, a package with brisket for $115, and a steak pack for $165. The patio, beer garden, and restaurant open on Tuesday, July 7. Glad to hear it: summer isn’t summer without a beer and a bourbon bump on that glorious outdoor patio.

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