Jack Riebel’s Top-Secret Restaurant

Jack Riebel is a chef who needs no introduction to local foodies—he helmed the national-caliber kitchen at the new Dakota, and was the chef at Goodfellow’s and the executive chef at La Belle Vie; he also was the second winner of Minnesota Monthly’s Local Chef Challenge, our annual tournament to crown the best local chef and give that chef ten thousand dollars. But this summer Minneapolis reeled at the news that Riebel was heading out on his own, and the details are these: I don’t have too many details!

I do know where it will be (1121 Hennepin Avenue), I do know the target opening date (which is late November or early December), and I do know it will be an American restaurant with lots of bourbon, lots of beer, maybe as many as 40 tap-lines, likely with a local focus, and a big outdoor beer garden (opening in the spring of 2012), and will have a big focus on meat—like wild boar, pork, and beef.

I talked to Jack Riebel and he told me he’s about to go to New York City to do some eating with the restaurants’ backers, and they’re particularly going to be looking at Blue Smoke and Frank’s Prime Meats, both of which are modern, farm-driven takes on classic American restaurant traditions—Blue Smoke descending from barbecue, and Frank’s Prime Meats taking Brooklyn’s European immigrant beer-garden culture as its reference. Riebel also told me he’s also very interested in a Washington D.C. restaurant with a local-farms focus, the Blue Duck Tavern, where they grill over wood, which Riebel hopes to do at his new place.

Exciting! What would a farm-driven, local and culturally relevant, but fun new Minnesotan restaurant by Jack Riebel look like? We’re about to find out.