Victory 44: Victorious!

Ooh, this is happy news: Northsiders, rejoice!

Why? Because Victory 44, the northside gastropub run and owned by chef Erik Harcey, is about to expand, in a big way. I’ll let Harcey tell it:

“I’ve been dealing with [3rd wave coffee artists] Dogwood a lot,” Harcey told me. “And I’ve sort of turned into a coffee junkie. After a while I went next door and asked if the shop was for sale. They said it wasn’t, but I kept asking, and we came to an agreement.” An agreement to turn the former Steamworks space into Victory 44 Coffee and Provisions, which will not just bring 3rd wave coffee to the north side, but will also be a sort of restaurant-made grocery store selling Victory 44 charcuterie, Victory 44 pickles and sauces, the special little cheeses and honeys that chefs love, and Victory 44 take-out! “It might take us a few months to get there,” Harcey told me, “but I’m thinking you’ll be able to buy our own fresh pasta, Bolognese, and Parmesan, and take it home and finish it yourself. Or pot roast, sized for a family, you take home. That’s what I think the neighborhood wants, and I think we can do it.” Other neighborhood perks: Restaurant-made sandwiches to go, big salads, and other coffee-shop foods made with restaurant finesse, and Harcey plans to work with the vendors at the Camden summer farmer’s market across the street at the Warren theater to buy what they have at the end of the day to pickle or can and—voila!

Restaurant watchers will quickly note that this sounds an awful lot like Heartland, Lenny Russo’s restaurant and market in St. Paul, albeit on a much smaller scale. To which I say: Yes, and hallelujah! Other restaurants sell their sauces and restaurant-made foods; I’m thinking first of Broder’s, Buon Giorno in Lilydale, Lucia’s To-Go, Turtle Bread (and chef Scott Pampuch at Corner Table has been longing to create something like this for years), and the more of this that happens the better… Victory 44 charcuterie for you to eat on your patio with your friends as the kids play in the sandbox! In retrospect, I have concluded that one of the most delicious dishes of last year was the whipped mortadella at Victory 44. When I can take that on a plane back to my family Christmas in New York, I will consider that a very specific personal victory.

But that’s not all! Harcey himself plans to train as a Dogwood barrista, and start competing nationally, and start tinkering with chef-made coffee concoctions—mochas made with tinctures of bergamot, emulsions of Michel Cluizel chocolate, that sort of thing. Will Harcey bring one of those Best Sommelier In the World honors our way? A city can dream.

Now, when will this all happen? The Victory 44 barista interview process has already begun as of this writing, and of course there’s always Minneapolis licensing to confront, but it may all debut this month. If you live on the northside, consider staking out a booth at Victory 44 and e-mailing me with constant updates. I hear there’s a phenomenal current dish on the menu—sweetbreads cured by wrapping them with thin sheets of country ham.