Robb Jones Tapped to Head Up Bar Program at Merchant

Categories: Coming Soon, News

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Saffron's Robb Jones is taking his talents elsewhere -- but staying in the North Loop.

As the most anticipated restaurant of 2014 readies to open sometime in November, executive chef Gavin Kaysen is putting together a dream team of managers (Bill Summerville), kitchen whizzes (Diane Yang), and servers. Next on the list? The crew behind the bar -- anchored by none other than Robb Jones, award-winning cocktail king currently serving at Saffron, and his second in command, Elliot Manthey from Cafe Maude.

See also:
Gavin Kaysen: "We Shouldn't Compete Against Chicago, That's Not Our Competition"


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Merchant's Gavin Kaysen on Watching People Eat, Soggy Cereal, and Sloppy Joes

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Courtesy of Gavin Kaysen

Gavin Kaysen may keep a cool head, but this Minnesota native is busy working on one of the most anticipated restaurants of fall 2014, right here in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis. Kaysen, former executive chef at the acclaimed Café Boulud in NYC, took some time to talk with us about inspiration for his upcoming venture Merchant, pickles, and his favorite way to dress a hot dog.

See also:
Gavin Kaysen: "We Shouldn't Compete Against Chicago, That's Not Our Competition"


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Gavin Kaysen: "We Shouldn't Compete Against Chicago, That's Not Our Competition"

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Mandy Lee
Kaysen in front of Merchant, his upcoming venture in Minneapolis's North Loop

Flashback to 1995. A young Gavin Kaysen is at work.

He's slicing fresh tomatoes by the case. One by one, they fall under the spell of his knife. Lettuce is on the block next. It's almost lunchtime in the business district, and he's anticipating a busy rush. Prepping for a steady stream of hungry suits, Gavin quickens his knife-work to double time. 

The door swings open, and the first familiar face walks in.
Grabbing his essentials, he deftly arranges lunch for a regular. This guy has come in every day this week and ordered the same thing. Six-inch roast beef on whole wheat, everything, no jalapenos, extra mustard.

"Hey Frank, it's at the register." 

Frank pays and leaves. Heads start to turn. Murmurs ripple through the line that extends out the door.

Gavin greets the next guest. "Welcome to Subway. What can I get for you?"

George Serra, who owns Pasta Time next door, orders a tuna sandwich. Same thing as last week. Gavin makes the order, rings him up, and watches as George walks out the door. He promptly throws the sandwich in the garbage can.

Mr. Serra has done this for the past month.

See also:
Gavin Kaysen's Merchant may be getting top chef backing


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Sassy Spoon Food Truck to Transition into Nokomis Brick-and-Mortar

Categories: Coming Soon

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Courtesy of Tamara Brown
For health-conscious lovers of full-flavored foods, what could be better than a restaurant run by a registered dietician -- especially one who emphasizes the nutritional wonders of lard?

Three years ago, Tamara Brown decided to educate the public about nutrition, not through individual office consultations, but with her Sassy Spoon food truck. She's done so well that this winter, she'll be ditching the truck for a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Nokomis neighborhood.

See also: Sassy Spoon's Tamara Brown: Five Questions

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Is a New Town Hall Space Coming to Northeast?

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Sasha Landskov

Can't get enough of Town Hall? Wondering when they might open a fourth location? Good news: Town Hall Brewery is currently eyeing the former site of Little Jack's Steakhouse in northeast Minneapolis.

See also:
Take a peek inside the remodeled Town Hall Brewery


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Local mushroom hunter launches Kickstarter for wild maitake mushroom jerky

Categories: Coming Soon

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Jerry Liu with the largest chicken of the woods mushroom he's ever found
There are two types of vegans: those whose diets revolve around soy and wheat-gluten based meat alternatives, and those who forgo trying to turn soybeans into chicken patties. For the former category, chowing down on gluten-based vegan jerky like Primal Strips is no biggie. But if you're gluten-free or generally opposed to consuming soy-based mock meat products, it can be hard to find a textural alternative.

That's where Jerry Liu comes in. The avid mushroom hunter recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for the equipment he needs to start selling his wild maitake mushroom jerky at local farmers markets and grocery stores.

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Couple launches Kickstarter for waffle ambulance [VIDEO]


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More details on the Salt Cellar, the Lenny Russo-influenced steakhouse heading to St. Paul

Categories: Coming Soon, News

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Chris Bohnhoff
Alan Bergo will head up Salt Cellar in St. Paul

You might know him as the Forager Chef. Or you may know him as Lenny Russo's former sous chef at Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market. But soon you'll know Alan Bergo as the executive chef at St. Paul's forthcoming modern steakhouse, the Salt Cellar.

See also:
Red Stag to host Friends of James Beard benefit dinner


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Saint Dinette pop-up offers a sneak peek at Tim Niver and J.D. Fratzke's next venture

Categories: Coming Soon

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courtesy of the Strip Club Meat & Fish website
Tim Niver (left) and J.D. Fratzke (right)

"We love our hugs here," says Strip Club co-owner Tim Niver.

It's true. Stepping into Strip Club often feels like walking into someone's living room, where you're welcomed with a hug and a bite to eat. And as Niver opened the doors Monday night to a new experience -- a sneak preview of his new restaurant concept, Saint Dinette, soon to open in Lowertown St. Paul -- that same casual and loving atmosphere shined through. Niver and his co-owner, chef J.D. Fratzke, circulated, sharing stories and smiles with every table. Seating was communal, with new and old friends mingling throughout the small room. And yes -- many hugs were given.

See also:
The Strip Club owners to open "upscale flannel" Saint Dinette in Lowertown

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From the chef behind Haute Dish comes Nighthawks/Birdie, a modern diner

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Nighthawks, an urban American diner coming to you soon from chef Landon Schoenefeld
Coming soon to a south Minneapolis neighborhood near you (assuming you live somewhere near 38th and Nicollet) is Nighthawks, the newest venture by veteran Twin Cities chef Landon Schoenefeld. Nighthawks will be taking over the old Shorty & Wags location and will include a smaller restaurant-within-a-restaurant known as Birdie.

See also:
Haute Dish celebrates the State Fair with (really good) food on a stick


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Nadia Cakes to open second Minnesota location in Woodbury

Categories: Coming Soon

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A fifteen-minute scroll through Nadia Cakes' photo gallery is a dangerous endeavor if you aren't in the position to make an emergency trip to the Maple Grove location. And even if you are, you'll be forced to endure lines that snake around the street corner as your mouth waters in anticipation. Well, eastern suburbanites, you're in luck. Nadia Cakes recently announced that they'll be opening a second location in Woodbury just before Valentine's Day.

Nadia Cakes' Woodbury shop won't stop at cupcakes -- they'll also be offering Sebastian Joe's ice cream, shakes, malts, sundaes, specialty cakes, and a new line of pastries.

See also:
Amanda Rettke of I Am Baker on "Surprise-Inside Cakes" [VIDEO]

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