First Look: Grain Stack settles into MIA

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Hannah Sayle
Grain Stack: An ingenious selection of food and drink
As kids, we remember taking field trips to the art museum. History, culture, capturing the human experience, sure. But what really stuck with us was the feeling of unpacking a sad sack lunch while the museum cafe sat tantalizingly out of reach. We requited that childhood injustice this week with a trip to MIA's new restaurant.

Grain Stack opened quietly in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in January, taking over the space that formerly housed Mezzanine. The new cafe is just one of MIA's three new food offerings from Stock & Badge, a collaboration between Rustica and Dogwood Coffee.

Stock & Badge's makeover includes a Dogwood coffee and cocktail bar, a kid-friendly quick-service spot called Half Pint, and Grain Stack, a sophisticated cafe with hearty and healthy lunch options for gallerygoers. We stopped by for a look at the new space and menu.

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First Look: The new and improved Birchwood Cafe in Seward

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First Look: The new and improved Birchwood Cafe in Seward

Categories: Now Open

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Seward's Birchwood Cafe reopened on Tuesday morning to a beaming neighborhood crowd. Owner Tracy Singleton milled about the space, greeting former customers and commenting on small, last-minute changes that needed to be made, like finding different containers for the restaurant's new silverware.

Birchwood Cafe closed in February to renovate the 18-year-old establishment. Part of the process involved going before Seward and City Council and asking for permission to change the space's designation from a residential to commercial establishment.

"We wanted to serve more good, real food and now we can," owner Singleton says. "We really wanted to preserve the Birchwood experience."

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Birchwood Cafe to host a goodbye party and a pop-up


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First Look: Five Watt Coffee in Kingfield blends coffee and cocktail bitters

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The Five Watt crew. Left to right: Berit (barista), Lee Carter (owner), Caleb Garn (owner), Evan (barista)
Just over a week ago, the Kingfield neighborhood welcomed Five Watt, the newest addition to Minneapolis's flourishing coffee scene. Five Watt, owned by former Bull Run Coffee Bar employees Caleb Garn and Lee Carter, is a community-oriented coffee house serving specialty drinks concocted by Carter and high-quality coffee from local small-scale roasters. There's also a unicorn named Fred stashed behind the large metal door (aka entrance to the unicorn stable) up front, but your chances of seeing him are low.

When Garn started at Bull Run on Lyndale Avenue, he immediately hit it off with fellow barista and bass player Carter, the coffee shop's first employee. During their shifts, the duo chatted about what it would be like to open a second Bull Run location. What started as a casual conversation evolved into a plan. Carter and Garn decided to open their own coffee shop, pulling from Garn's business and managing experience and Carter's coffee expertise.

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First Look: Cook St. Paul, a new brunch star in Payne-Phalen

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First Look: Corner Table 3.0 opens tonight

Categories: Now Open
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Joy Summers
New sign at the new digs for Corner Table

One of the best restaurants in Minneapolis just got a little better. This week Corner Table is packing up their knives (and their pork products) and relocating just a couple of blocks down the street. Their new address means more room for guests inside and out, plus an expanded menu with even more delicious fare.

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First Look: JL Beers brings a big burger to Northeast

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The Twin Cities are full of transplants from the Fargo-Moorhead area, and many of them cheered when they heard that their beloved burger joint chain, JL Beers, was coming to Minneapolis. Known for its simple approach to classic burgers and healthy appreciation for good suds, JL Beers had already amassed a strong following when we popped in for an early lunch last Wednesday.

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First Look: Longfellow Market

Categories: Now Open

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Via Longfellow Market's Facebook
Longfellow seemingly has it all. It's home to Leviticus Tattoo, Merlin's Rest, our favorite head shop GM Tobacco, the always-entertaining Denny's, and, of course, the Mississippi River. In recent years, a handful of new restaurants (like Sonora Grill and Parka) opened in the neighborhood, increasing its hot-spot status. But what about quality grocery stores? Sure, there's Rainbow, Cub Foods, and Target, and Seward Co-op is just a stone's throw away for most, but the neighborhood has long been lacking a small, independent grocer.

Enter Longfellow Market, located on Lake Street between 38th and 39th Avenues. The bright, naturally lit store opened three weeks ago and has already attracted a sizable neighborhood clientele. On Wednesday, we stopped by to take a look for ourselves.

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Sonora Grill flourishes in Longfellow


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Vom Fass brings specialty oils, vinegars, and liqueurs to the Mall of America

Categories: News, Now Open
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Vom Fass now open at the Mall of America
If high-end specialty oils, vinegars, and liqueurs are your thing, then the recently opened Vom Fass at the Mall of America is definitely worth checking out. This specialty goods franchise opened quietly over the weekend and celebrated with a grand opening party yesterday afternoon complete with a create-your-own cocktail bar and a ribbon cutting with Bloomington Mayor, Gene Winstead. 

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The Digging offers workspace, resources for Twin Cities artisan food producers

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First Look: Heyday swings in Lyn-Lake with an impressive pedigree and food to match

Categories: Now Open
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Joy Summers
A peek inside the newly opened Heyday 
What do you get when you take a couple of La Belle Vie alums, including a chef who staged at the world-famous Noma, a vibrant Minneapolis neighborhood, a former laundromat, and the Replacements? You get the most buzzed-about new restaurant of the year, Heyday. They threw open their doors on Tuesday and we stopped by for a first bite.

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First Look: Brasserie Zentral brings a taste of Austria to downtown Minneapolis

Categories: Now Open
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Hannah Sayle
The main dining room of Brasserie Zentral, now open in downtown Minneapolis

The much anticipated second restaurant from Meritage owners Russell and Desta Klein is now open in downtown Minneapolis and the rich, old-world vibe and continental cuisine will make you feel like you're supping in a fancy Austrian dining car.

The sights and sounds of construction outside -- some renovations to the historic Soo Line building that houses the restaurant are still underway -- might just as quickly jolt you from that reverie. But get a few bites into one of Brasserie Zentral's elegantly composed European standards, and you'll soon find that luxury again.

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Russell and Desta Klein's Brasserie Zentral has an opening date and is now taking reservations


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First look: Cook St. Paul, a new brunch star in Payne-Phalen

Categories: Now Open

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Emily Eveland
Cook St. Paul is proof that good things come in small packages. The miniscule restaurant -- located in the space that formerly housed Serlin's Cafe in St. Paul's Payne-Phalen neighborhood -- had its soft opening last Thursday and by Saturday, the line was out the door. Impressively, owners Eddie Wu and Charles Cook refurbished the space, perfected the menu, and opened Cook St. Paul just four months after Serlin's closed.

The space is small but comfortable, and though it was a bit quiet on our visit, Wu seems keen to prance around the restaurant and interact with any and all customers. Because an overly decorated space of this size would verge on claustrophobic, the owners have kept the decor minimal, settling for the occasional framed map and document on the wall, tiny succulents on each table, and three eccentric light fixtures.

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First Look: Hen House Eatery


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