I called up Nick and Eddie manager Doug Anderson to see if the rumors were true—was Steven Brown, recently booted from Porter & Frye, really cooking there? If so, it would seem a deja-vu-like replay of the big news of 6 weeks ago, when JP Samuelson, of sadly closed JPAmerican Bistro, took at job at Nick and Eddie – but then left to head up Solera. Is Nick and Eddie now some sort of foundling home for displaced chefs?
Yes and yes: Brown is working there, but no one knows for how long. “He’s been working here a couple of weeks,” Anderson told me, “We aren’t publicizing it because we certainly wouldn’t prevent him from the next great opportunity that comes his way, but who would say no to having a chef of his capabilities in their restaurant? There’s not a better pair of hands in the kitchen anywhere. But there are no big ripples here, we’ve all known Steven for years, for decades, and we’re not going to change the direction or style of what we do. We don’t want people coming in and expecting the [fine dining] kind of things we don’t do. But he’s in the kitchen, he’s been doing some ridiculously good bar plates for $8, making pasta, Mexican pork stews, there’s so much depth to his cooking, it’s amazing stuff. All I eat now are bar-plates, and the bar business has started to pick up. We’re going to open an Absinthe room in May”—a special back room with big truck loading-dock doors that is near the alley that separates Nick and Eddie from the Café Lurcat space—“and Steven is designing the menu that will be specific to that room as well. But it’s such a low-impact job, he can come with us and still keep all his options open.”
So, you read it here first kids—Steven Brown is cooking $8 bar-plates at Nick and Eddie. For how long? No one knows. I asked Anderson if he was going to take in Don Saunders, whose Fugaise is about to close. (Saunders, of course, worked for Anderson at dear departed Au Rebours.) “Don is so talented, he’ll be snapped up by someone else,” Anderson told me.
Oh, and if this is beginning to seem like so many restaurant-names and chef-names written on the side of a Merry-Go-Round spinning out of control, you’re not alone: “Don’t you just think there is so much exhaustion with restaurant news?” Anderson asked me. “I mean, oh God—please.”
Well, yeah. But I feel kind of good about Minneapolis now, I like to see people take care of their own. And the idea of eating Steven Brown’s food for eight bucks is making me feel suddenly very rich.