Sunday, February 19, 2012

LocalEats best Minneapolis, St. Paul restaurants for 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Downtown's Old Chicago Closes Doors

IN THE NEWS: The Old Chicago restaurant in downtown Minneapolis was to close Sept. 22, citing declining traffic, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports. The restaurant, which is owned by Louisville, Colo.-based Rock Bottom Restaurants Inc. has been in business in the Butler North building for 13 years. ... The Star Tribune's Jon Tevlin details the recent tribulations of restaurateur Thom Pham (Thanh Do, Azia, and the struggling Temple), who recently was attacked by a group of at least a half-dozen men, who beat him with sticks and bricks. He and police believe it was a targeted attack. ... Rick Nelson visits The Midtown Global Market (920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis,, Pittsburgh Blue (11900 Main St. N., Maple Grove, 763-416-2663, and Sanctuary (903 Washington Av. S., Minneapolis, 612-339-5058, ... The Pioneer Press's Kathie Jenkins gives three stars to Bank Restaurant (Westin Hotel, 88 S. Sixth Street, Minneapolis, 612-656-3255) and stops by Pittsburgh Blue. ... Nancy Ngo reports that the owners of Chatterbox in St. Paul and Minneapolis have nabbed another Minneapolis spot - the former Café Bicko on France Avenue and West 45th Street. They aim to open the end of October. ... City Pages's Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl reviews South American spot Los Andres Restaurant (317 W. Lake Street, Minneapolis, 612.825.1700, ... visits Northwoods Cafe in Silver Bay.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Margaux Closing Adds to St. Paul's List

IN THE NEWS: The Pioneer Press' Kathie Jenkins reports on the Sept. 13 closing of owner Margaret Dolan's Margaux bistro at 9th and Robert streets in downtown St. Paul. It's the third high-profile eatery to close in downtown St. Paul in recent months, following Fhima's in June and A Rebours in early September ... Nancy Ngo reports that Stucci's Italian restaurant in Hudson has closed and has been replaced by Ellie's on Main, a sports bar. ... City Pages' Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl reviews Blackbird Cafe (815 W. 50th Street, Minneapolis, 612.823.4790, ... Brian Gruis and Brent Mayes, partners in Cesare's Wine Bar in Stillwater, are bringing a new, technologically advanced wine bar to northeast Minneapolis, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports. Blue Skies will feature the Enomatic, an Italian wine-serving system that will allow customers to sample 100 different wines in portions as small as an ounce, not just by the glass or bottle. It's slated to open next spring at 24 University Ave. S.E., across from Surdyk's Liquor & Cheese Shop, the state's largest liquor store. ... The Star Tribune's Kevin Giles reportts, "What's believed to be the oldest ice cream parlor in Minnesota will be sold in the aftermath of a public dispute over its renovation and the subsequent death of owner Joe Farrington. Selma's Ice Cream Parlour in the southern Washington County city of Afton closed abruptly in early August when Farrington committed suicide after protracted negotiations with the City Council and the state Department of Natural Resources over his development plans for the building, which dates to the Civil War." ... The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson looks at the loads of dining options available along the University of Minnesota-area neighborhood known as Dinkytown, such as Al's Breakfast (413 14th Av. SE., 612-331-9991), Vescio's Italian Restaurant (406 14th Av. SE., 612-378-1747,, and Annie's Parlour (313 14th Av. SE., 612-379-0744). ... Tom Horgan reports the steakhouse r. Norman's, the next big thing from Bellanotte owner David Koch, will open in mid-November at 7th Street and Hennepin Avenue S., next to Pantages Theatre.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Meritage Takes Over for Closed A Rebours

IN THE NEWS: The Pioneer Press' Kathie Jenkins visits Saji Ya (695 Grand Ave. St. Paul; 651-292-0444) and reports both the closing of the much acclaimed French bistro A Rebours restaurant in downtown St. Paul and a new restaurant in its spot: Russell Klein, former chef at W.A. Frost in St. Paul, and his wife, Desta Klein, are calling the new eatery Meritage. They hope to open in six weeks. ...The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson awards three stars in reviewing Brasa (600 E. Hennepin Av., Minneapolis, 612-379-3030, ... City Pages' Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl reviews the new Nuevo Latino eatery Café Ena (4601 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612.824.4441). ... Rake Magazine's The Rake Today blog considers the new Sanctuary (903 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis,. and reports the scheduled Sept. 10 opening of a New York-style deli called Be'wiched in the old C. McGee spot at 800 Washington Avenue North (612.767.4330), from former Solera chef Matthew Bickford and Michael Ryan, former chef de cuisine from Restaurant Alma.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Restaurants Set Sept. 8 Flood Relief Night

IN THE NEWS: The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson awards two stars in reviewing Landmarc Grill (405 S. 8th St., Minneapolis, 612-455-1204). ... Nelson also notes, "Sept. 8 is going to be a Big Night Out for Twin Cities restaurants supporting relief efforts for family farmers in flood-ravaged southeastern Minnesota. Dine out at Lucia's Restaurant, Nicollet Island Inn, Signature Cafe, Corner Table, Craftsman, Cafe Brenda and Spoonriver in Minneapolis and Jay's Cafe, Muffuletta and Heartland in St. Paul, and part of your tab will be donated to flood-relief organizations." ... The Pioneer Press' Nancy Ngo reports that owner Bruno Chiari is moving his 2-year-old French cafe Kallyste at the end of September from the Signal Hills Shopping Center in West St. Paul to a former gift shop on Woodbury Drive near Valley Creek Road. ... Kathie Jenkins stops by Bambu (1715 Beam Ave., Maplewood; 651-747-1000), and also interviews Danny Schwartzman, owner of Common Roots Cafe (2558 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-871-2360;

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Monday, August 27, 2007

East River Market Converts to Chindian

IN THE NEWS: The Pioneer Press' Kathie Jenkins stops by the new Obento-Ya. ... Nancy Ngo reports Nina Wong has converted her East River Market in Minneapolis into a Chinese and Indian restaurant named Chindian, and the former Singapore in Maplewood is now Vietnamese eatery Bambu, from restaurant newcomer Yin Thon. ... City Pages' Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl reviews Café Levain (4762 Chicago Ave. S, Minneapolis, 612.823.7111,

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hard Times Cafe Has a Hard Summer

IN THE NEWS: The Minnesota Daily features Hard Times Cafe, which closed its doors for more than two hours for the first time ever this summer to replace its ventilation system. The collectively owned West Bank coffee shop is known as much for its vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu as it is for operating nearly 24 hours a day. ... The Pioneer Press' Kathie Jenkins considers Jay's Cafe (791 Raymond Ave., St. Paul; and Via Cafe & Bar (6740 France Ave. S., Edina; ... Nancy Ngo reports: White Rock Coffee Roasters on Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul has branched out to the former Sisu Coffee & Tea on Snelling Avenue, also in St. Paul. ... JJ Ice Cream and Smoothies is now in the Sunrise Market building on University Avenue in St. Paul ... Mother and son Diana and Nick Nguyen are opening their third Tea Garden next month near the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus in the former Perry's Pizza on Washington Avenue. ... Sept. 3 will be the last day for the Original Roadhouse Grill in Burnsville, which is closing. ... Andrew Smith is the new top toque at Duplex in Uptown Minneapolis. Smith, a former chef at Giorgio's and most recently French Meadow Bakery (both in Minneapolis), plans to eventually unveil a new dinner menu and add lunch. Smith replaces opening chef Michael Hart, who decided to return to heading the kitchen at Zander Cafe on St. Paul's Cathedral Hill. ... As part of a reorganization, Morrissey Hospitality Co. has named Mark Marthaler, former corporate chef of the Doolittle's chain, as head of the kitchen at St. Paul Grill in the St. Paul Hotel. The move allows former chef Lance Kapps more time to focus on his other duties at the hotel - running the more casual M St. Cafe and overseeing the catering operation. ... Ngo also notes, "Word on the street now is that A Rebours in St. Paul is closing. But owner Doug Anderson says he has no plans to throw in the towel at his downtown bistro. He guesses people are speculating because someone recently offered to buy the restaurant. Anderson turned them down." ... City Pages' Dara Grumdahl visits Surly Brewing Co. (4811 Dusharme Drive, Brooklyn Center, ... The Star Tribune's David Chanen reports, "A 68-year-old man has died after he was hit by a truck while dining at a south Minneapolis cafe last week. Jerome Perkins, of Minneapolis, was eating outside at Clicquot Club Cafe about 7:15 p.m. Aug. 17 when he and about a dozen other people were injured. Perkins died Aug. 19 at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Police continue to investigation why the driver, a 49-year-old Minneapolis woman, lost control of her truck. It veered up onto the sidewalk and into the crowded outdoor eating area at the cafe, police said." ... Critic Rick Nelson awards four stars in reviewing Heartland (1806 St. Clair Av., St. Paul, ... blogs about the opening of Gangchen Bar & Restaurant (1833 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis), the site of the former Soul City Supper Club.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

'Bon Appetit' Spotlights Lucia's Recipes

Bon Appetit magazine's September 2007 Restaurant issue features three finalists in a list of quintessential versions of six American classics: pizza, steak, tacos, hamburgers, fried chicken, and ribs. Winner will be announced on the Food Network on Aug. 18 (Good Eats with Alton Brown, 6 and 10 pm CDT). The finalists:

PIZZA: Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix; DiFara Pizza, Brooklyn, NY; Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles
STEAK: Peter Luger Steak House, Brooklyn; Cut, Los Angeles; Doe's Eat Place, Greenville, Miss.
TACOS: Taco Taco Cafe, San Antonio; Taqueria del Sol, Atlanta; South Beach Bar & Grill, Ocean Beach, Calif.
HAMBURGERS: Bobcat Bite, Santa Fe, NM; Taylor's Automatic Refresher, St. Helena, Calif; The Meers Store and Restaurant, Lawton, Okla.
FRIED CHICKEN: Willie Mae's Scotch House, New Orleans; Price's Chicken Coop, Charlotte, NC; Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
RIBS: Charles Vergos Rendezvous, Memphis; 17th Street Bar & Grill, Murphysboro, Ill; Jaspers, Plano, Texas.

The magazine also features favorite restaurant recipes, including: Lucia's in Minneapolis-St. Paul; Eve in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Dali Restaurant & Tapas Bar in Somerville, Mass.; Binkley's Restaurant in Cave Creek, Ariz.; Kelly Liken Restaurant in Vail, Colo; Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles; and Park Kitchen in Portland, Ore. ... And the mag also features 12 small restaurants and their recipes, including: The Little Owl, New York City; The Good Fork, Brooklyn; La Laiterie at Farmstead, Providence, RI; Cremant, Seattle; Bonne Soiree, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Hatfield's, Los Angeles; Canteen, San Francisco; Revolver, Findlay, Ohio; Le Pigeon, Portland, Ore; and Komi, Washington, DC.

IN THE NEWS: The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson gives two stars to Fogo de Chao (645 Hennepin Av. S., Minneapolis, and stops by Via (6740 France Av. S., Edina, ... Nelson also reports on the upcoming opening of Blue Skies (24 University Av. SE., Minneapolis). "When it opens next spring, the wine bar and restaurant (no chef, yet) will use an Italian technology that not only preserves up to 100 wines in open bottles for several weeks, but also allows customers to swipe a card and purchase a single-ounce, half-glass or full-glass pour." ... Ian Pierce is the new chef at Kafe 421 (421 14th Av. SE., Minneapolis,, formerly of 128 Cafe. ... Opening is Obento-ya Japanese Bistro (1510 Como Av. SE., Minneapolis, ... The Pioneer Press' Kathie Jenkins reviews Ristorante Luci (470 Cleveland Ave., St. Paul). ... City Pages' Dara Grumdahl reviews Brasa (600 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis). ... The Rake magazine blogs about visits to Town Talk Diner (2707 1/2 E. Lake St., Minneapolis) and T's Place (2713 E. Lake St., Minneapolis) and the opening of Chindian Cafe (1500 E. Hennepin, Minneapolis). ... goes to Blackbird for breakfast.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bridge Collapse Affects Bars, Restaurants

IN THE NEWS: All of the retail and hospitality businesses near the junction of Minneapolis' Interstate-35W and Washington Avenue South were operating the next morning following Aug. 1st's bridge collapse, although the impact on their sales were mixed, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports. Some bars and restaurants in Minneapolis' Seven Corners area saw customer traffic decline sharply the previous night, particularly after police closed the roads leading to those establishments. "Business dropped off severely and then just died. It was fairly immediate," said Matt Vastrow, the bar manager at Town Hall Brewery. "We had no more customers. They couldn't get here." Corner Bar also saw traffic dwindle after the roads were closed. ... The Star Tribune's Tom Horgan visits the new Dive Bar (3035 N. White Bear Ave., Maplewood.,, while Rick Nelson profiles Jim Wagner of Wagner's Drive-In (7000 W. Broadway Ave., Brooklyn Park) ... Nelson reports, "Punch Neapolitan Pizza is going where Noodles & Co. can't: to St. Paul's Grand Avenue. Last month, the St. Paul City Council voted 5-1 against Noodles' request for a zoning variance at 777 Grand Av., citing a ban on fast-food restaurants occupying single-tenant buildings along Grand Avenue. Yet Punch will be going into a new building -- complete with sidewalk patio -- next door at 769 Grand Ave., formerly the Hazelden Connection bookstore." ...

The Pioneer Press' Kathie Jenkins reports that Jerabek's in St. Paul is up for sale. Owner Melissa Deyo, who is part of the family that has owned the West Side bakery since the beginning, said it's time for her to try her hand at something else. Deyo's stepgrandfather, Ed Jerabek, founded the bakery in 1906. Her parents, Will and Dieta Deyo, owned and operated it from 1978 until 1994, when Melissa Deyo took it over and added a coffee shop and changed the name to Jerabek's New Bohemian Coffeehouse & Bakery. ... Jenkins notes the new Common Roots Cafe at 26th and Lyndale (the old Sobas space), where all furnishings are made from recycled or recyclable materials, and the new Manhattans in the the former Zeno space on the ground floor of LaSalle Plaza in downtown Minneapolis ... Nancy Ngo reports, "The owners of Town Talk Diner in Minneapolis have set their sights across the river in St. Paul for their next restaurant. Tim Niver, Aaron Johnson and newcomer Dan Ritter, who Niver worked with at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, are keeping mum about many details until a lease is signed. Niver did say the location won't be in downtown or on Grand Avenue and the fare will be American - but don't expect another Town Talk. Meanwhile, Town Talk partners axed plans to open a pasta shop in the former Carne Asada a few blocks away from Town Talk on East Lake Street. Niver says they've sold the space to Lilia Zagal and Armando Ocampo, who run Taqueria Los Ocampo in St. Paul and in the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. ... Charlie Theros (Rudolph's, St. Clair Broiler) is planning a new restaurant in the former Rudolph's on East Hennepin in Minneapolis called Val's, after Theros' grandfather, Rudolph Valento. It will feature martinis shaken tableside and American comfort food, such as lamb chops and hangar steak. ... City Pages' Dara Grumdahl reviews the red-hot Cafè Maude (5411 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis, ...

MSP mag's Andrew Zimmern reports, "La Belle Vie honcho Tim McKee and his partners have hired Michelle Gayer to be the new executive pastry chef, overseeing the dessert menus of both La Belle Vie and Solera. Michelle, besides being one of my favorite folks in our town's food world, is the most critically acclaimed pastry chef in the Twin Cities. She's a James Beard “Best Chef” nominee, and the editors of Bon Appétit magazine named her the “Best Pastry Chef" in America in 2002. Michelle is an alum of Charlie Trotter’s and Trotter’s To Go in Chicago, having co-written Charlie Trotter’s Desserts with the acclaimed super-chef. In 2005, she came to Minneapolis to run the pastry world at Franklin Street Bakery. ... blogs about the new Obento-Ya (1510 Como Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, ... Minnesota Monthly's Rachel Hutton reviews Cosmos Restaurant (Graves 601 Hotel, 601 First Ave. N., Minneapolis). ... stops by the newly opened Blackbird.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pane Vino Dolce Shutters Doors

IN THE NEWS: The Star Tribune's Tom Horgen visits Cafe Maude (5411 Penn Av. S., Mpls), while Rick Nelson previews Blackbird (815 W. 50th St., Minneapolis,, Common Roots Cafe (2558 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.,, and Harry's Food & Cocktails (500 Washington Av. S., Minneapolis, Nelson also reports: The Golden Fig (790 Grand Av., St. Paul) is expanding. The fancy-foods shop, which specializes in Midwestern artisanal and farmstead food products, is adding a kitchen. ... David Vlach has left the helm at the Town Talk Diner (2707½ E. Lake St., Minneapolis). Sous chef Tor Westgard has stepped up to fill Vlach's executive chef/managing partner position. In a release, Vlach promised he would announce his next project "soon." And Karl Gerstenberger is the chef at Jay's Cafe (791 Raymond Av., St. Paul). ... Pane Vino Dolce, the tiny Italian restaurant that opened at the corner of 50th St. and Bryant Av. S. in Minneapolis in 2000, has closed. ... The Pioneer Press' Kathie Jenkins reports: "White-linen Levain is now up and running as the more-casual (read: less expensive) Cafe Levain. Eric Sturtz, who once cooked at Levain before moving on to Saffron (also in Minneapolis), heads the kitchen." ... Jenkins also notes the openings of Blackbird, Rotisseria (1409 W. Lake St., Minneapolis), and Highland Cafe & Bakery (2012 Ford Parkway, St. Paul), and chats with Kevin Sheehy, owner of Cafe Maude. ... City Pages features chef Steven Brown and the new Harry's Food and Cocktails. ... Local barbecue legend Gene "Big Daddy" Sampson is back in business outside the Abundant Catering storefront (609 University Ave., Saint Paul), Rake magazine blogs. ... notes the July 24 opening of Buster's On 28th (4204 28th Ave., Minneapolis).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

'New York Times' Spotlights La Belle Vie

IN THE NEWS: The New York Times' Joe Drape reports on the rise of top-flight chef-driven restaurants in midsized cities. Mentioned include: Colby and Megan Garrelts' Bluestem, Debbie Gold's 40 Sardines, and Lidia Bastianich's Lidia's in Kansas City; Tim McKee's La Belle Vie in Minneapolis; and Sanford D'Amato's Sanford restaurant in Milwaukee. ... The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson hits the road to some out-of-the-way dining finds, including Söntés (4 Third St. SW., Rochester, ... The Pioneer Press' Nancy Ngo notes the openings of Highland Cafe and Bakery in the former Village Bistro in St. Paul's Highland Park and Harry's Food and Cocktails in the former Nochee space at Fifth and Washington avenues in Minneapolis. ... Ngo notes the closings of Carousel, the long-running rotating restaurant in the Crowne Plaza Hotel St. Paul-Riverfront, and the Minnesota-based Timber Lodge Steakhouse's Roseville location. ... The paper chats with Jeff Swiersz, chef/partner (with Guo Bin Wang) at Amian Bistro (14755 Victor Hugo Blvd., Hugo). ... Ngo blogs, "Jasmine’s Deli in Minneapolis is getting a younger sibling. The owners expect to unveil Jasmine 26 on July 20 next door to the Bad Waitress on 26th and Nicollet Avenue." ... Kathie Jenkins blogs, "Kopplin's Coffee on Hamline near Randolph in St. Paul serves up the best iced coffee I've ever tasted." ... City Pages' Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl reviews B.A.N.K. (88 S. Sixth St., Minneapolis, ... visits butter, "the casually chic, aggressively lowercase hipster bakery at Grand at 36th" ... Rake mag reports the scheduled mid-August opening, in the former Olive Garden space on the corner of 6th and Hennepin, of Musashi Japanese Restaurant. According to manager Mickey Liu, owner Tyu Di Chen, a native of China, worked at Japanese restaurants in Japan for ten years before coming to the States.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Monday, July 16, 2007

Roseville To Get California Pizza Kitchen

IN THE NEWS: The Pioneer Press' Nancy Ngo reports: In addition to Minnesota locations in Edina, Maple Grove and St. Paul, California Pizza Kitchen plans to open Aug 6. in Roseville. ... Noodles & Company will open on Robert Street in West St. Paul in mid-August, joining other Twin Cities locations, including Apple Valley and Eagan. ... Asian Express, the Vietnamese lunch spot in the Pioneer Building in downtown St. Paul that served rice noodle salads and chicken stir-fries, has closed. ... Just a few weeks after its debut, Cafe Maude in Minneapolis has axed breakfast and lunch. It's only temporary while owner Kevin Sheehy figures out what to do. ... The paper chats with Adel Alkurdi, chef/owner of Zam Zam (4687 Bald Eagle Ave., White Bear Lake). ... The City Pages' Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl reviews Tea House 2 (1676 Suburban Ave., St. Paul, ... From Metroblogging Mineapolis "After you enjoy a fine meal at Temple or Azia, I'd think twice about skipping out on your bill. Restaurant owner and former judo instructor Thom Pham will personally hunt you down and make you pay. Last month Reginald Wilder and Lance Burrow (dressed as a woman) got a personal tour of the Temple restaurant by Pham, enjoyed a $410 dollar meal and skipped out on the bill. Heading over to Azia, the pair didn't expect to encounter Pham and a roundhouse kick to the face when they fled the restaurant and were "held" by Pham's stellar judo moves until police arrive." ... Metroblogging also visits Edina's The Original Pancake House.

By Pat Embry,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

'Spin' Spotlights Several Local Eateries

Spin magazine's July 2007 issue features "72 Hours in Minneapolis." Among the restaurants mentioned: The Egg and I (2828 Lyndale Ave. S,), French Meadow Bakery (2610 Lyndale Ave. S.), Town Talk Diner (2707 EA. Lake St.), Pineda Tacos (311 EA. Lake St.), Keys Cafe (821 Marquette Ave.), Cafe Lurcat (1624 Harmon Place), Sea Salt Eatery (Minnehaha Park, 4801 Minnehaha Ave. S.), Solera (900 Hennepin Ave. S.), Pizza Luce (119 N. Fourth St.), The Dinkytowner (412 14th Ave. SE), Brit's Pub (1110 Nicollet Ave.), Bryant-Lake Bowl (810 W. Lake St.), Loring Pasta Bar (327 14rh Ave. SE), Chino Latino (2916 Hennepin Ave.), and Gringo's Cantina (2009 Lyndale Ave. S.).

IN THE NEWS: The Pioneer Press' Nancy Ngo reports Margaux in downtown St. Paul has stopped serving lunch, added Sunday brunch and extended its evening hours to midnight. Chef/owner Margaret Doran says the spot on the edge of downtown wasn't getting enough afternoon traffic. She has also halted plans to expand next door until business picks up. ... Ngo also reports that after a six-month hiatus, Matty B's is restoring lunch July 23. ... Kathie Jenkins visits Innuendo (213 E. Fourth St., St. Paul), and Brasa Premium Rotisserie (600 Hennepin Ave. E., Minneapolis). ... City Pages' Dara Grumdahl reviews Dave & Buster's (11780 Fountain's Way, Maple Grove, ... The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson gives three stars to Bank (88 S. 6th St. in the Westin Hotel, Minneapolis,, while Tom Horgan visits Manhattans (825 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls, ... Rake magazine blogs about Picosa (65 Main Street S.E., Minneapolis, and Brasa Premium Rotisserie.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

128 Cafe, Totino's Shuttering Doors

IN THE NEWS: The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson reports that after 11 years, Brock and Natalie Obee are calling it quits at their 128 Cafe (128 Cleveland Av. S., St. Paul) and also reports the scheduled Aug. 4 closing of the landmark (founded in 1951) Totino's Italian Kitchen (523 Central Av. NE., Minneapolis). Owner Steve Elwell, the Totinos' grandson, is working to relocate the business later this year to Mounds View. ... Nelson also notes the opening of Sati Coffee & Crepes (572 Commons Dr., Woodbury) and the expected early fall opening of Otho (pronounced Oh-thoh) at 609 S. 10th. ... Nelson also gives his first impressions of the new Cafe Levain (4754 Chicago Av. S., Minneapolis), Cafe Maude (5411 Penn Av. S., Minneapolis,, Manhattans Restaurant & Bar (800 Hennepin Av. S., Minneapolis,, and Wayzata Eatery (1179-A E. Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata, ... The Pioneer Press' Kathie Jenkins reviews Zam Zam (4687 Bald Eagle Ave., White Bear Lake) and Ufood Grill (8364 N. Third St., Oakdale). ... Nancy Ngo reports, "Add David Brooks to the list of real estate firms looking to turn Lowertown into restaurant town. The president of the Brooks Group plans to transform the first floors of two buildings he owns into casual dining spots. For the first, a former grocery store in the Stevens Building at the corner of Sixth and Wacouta streets, Brooks has signed on Jason Clark and Rebecca Krieg to open A Knight's Tale. The 124-seat restaurant, bar and lounge will feature organic pastas and Neapolitan pizzas, with a focus on ingredients from the nearby St. Paul Farmers' Market. The opening is scheduled for this fall." ... Ngo also reports that Tee Belachew, former chef and co-owner of Singapore in Minneapolis, is the new owner of Dashen Ethiopian, also in Minneapolis. ... City Pages' Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl reviews Ngon Vietnamese Bistro (799 University Ave., St. Paul, ... The Rake interviews David Fhima of A Rebours, reviews Bank ( 88 Sixth St. S., Minneapolis; and considers Shiraz Fire Roasted Cuisine (6042 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis), Cafe Bonxai (1613 University Ave. W., St. Paul), and Fogo de Chao (645 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; .. The mag's Breaking Bread blogs on the promotion of sous-chef Peter Macaroni to executive chef at the Sample Room, as well as the June 28 opening of Alex Roberts' much-awaited new restaurant, Brasa Rotisserie in the former Betty's Bikes and Buns location, at 600 E. Hennepin in northeast Minneapolis.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mr. Goodcents Subs Sets Expansion

IN THE NEWS: Quick-service chain Mr. Goodcents Subs & Pastas, which opened its first Minnesota location in Cottage Grove late last year, will expand to Woodbury and Mankato later this year, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports. Another Twin Cities location is slated to open in early 2008, and the company is in talks with other prospective franchisees. ... The Pioneer Press' Nancy Ngo reports on the openings of delis New York Deli (in the former Loring Park Coffee House at 13th Street and Harmon Place, Minneapolis) and Be'wiched (the former C. McGee's Deli site at Eighth and Washington Avenue, Minneapolis), and also reports: C. McGee's is in its new digs at Ninth Avenue and Third Street; the opening of Wayzata Eatery and Wine Bar in the former Louie's Habit (1179 E. Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata); and the upcoming opening of Alaskan Eatery in the former Shelly's Woodroast in St. Louis Park. ... Critic Kathie Jenkins stops by the new Amian (14755 Victor Hugo Blvd., Hugo) and Café Maude (5411 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis). ... City Pages' Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl visits Premier Cheese Market (5013 France Avenue South, Minneapolis).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

St. Paul Eatery Fhima's Shutters Doors

IN THE NEWS: David Fhima was to close his namesake restaurant in downtown St. Paul over the weekend, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports. Fhima's, which served French Mediterranean cuisine, was open for six years at 6 W. Sixth St. The city, which owns the building, expects to have a new restaurant tenant in place by the end of the summer, said Cecile Bedor, St. Paul's planning and economic development director. Fhima owes back rent for the restaurant space to the city of St. Paul, which owns the building. He has struggled with financial problems for more than a year, as the Business Journal first reported last May. Fhima's other St. Paul restaurant, LoTo, remains open. ... Minnesota restaurant owners say a federal minimum-wage increase could have a toxic impact on their industry, and they want the state Legislature to cushion the blow next year, the Journal reports. The new federal law will boost the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15 in three installments of 70 cents each over the next two years. The change won't affect Minnesota until the second increase takes effect next year, because the state's minimum wage already stands at $6.15 an hour. Minnesota is one of seven states -- and the only one in the Upper Midwest -- that does not have a tip credit, a reduced pay rate for tipped employees that can be as low as $2.13 under federal law. Restaurants owners say the state needs to adopt a tip credit or they might have to cut jobs and raise menu prices. ... The Pioneer Press' Nancy Ngo reports Totino's, which has been turning out Italian food for 56 years in Northeast Minneapolis, is closing in early August. The owners are negotiating to relocate to the Original Mattress Factory space in Mounds View, however. ... Ngo also reports, "Thom Pham is setting his sights on St. Paul for his next Asian-fusion spot. The owner of Azia, Anemoni Sushi and Temple in Minneapolis is in negotiations to run a two-story restaurant in Lowertown. The Sherman Group real-estate firm tapped Pham to run a contemporary, 200-seat restaurant with a rooftop lounge in the former home of the Metropolitan Council in Mears Park Center. Pham already has his hands full - he is trying to get Temple off the ground and is working on opening Mix restaurant and Manhattan Martini Bar on East Lake Street in Minneapolis - and is in no hurry to start another project. ... Restaurant Alma's Alex Roberts is hoping to unveil Brasa Rotisserie at the end of the month in the former Betty's Bikes and Buns in Northeast Minneapolis at Sixth and Hennepin. The 50-seat restaurant, where customers order at the counter, will feature rotisserie chicken and pork with sides like beans and rice, plantains, grits and potato salad." ... Kathie Jenkins notes the seasonal opening of River Boat Grill (Harriet Island, east entrance). ... City Pages' Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl reviews Café Barbette (1600 W. Lake St., Minneapolis). ... The Star Tribune's Tom Horgan drools over the bar at Bank (88 S. 6th St., Mpls).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Monday, June 11, 2007

Food Service Giant Opens Wayzata Eatery

IN THE NEWS: The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson reports, "A Minnetonka company that serves 34 million meals a year is finally getting into the restaurant business. Taher Inc., which has been specializing in providing food services to schools, senior citizen residential complexes and vending machines for 26 years, has opened Wayzata Eatery & Wine Bar (1179-A E. Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata). ... Nelson begins his latest review, "If I were a character on "Heroes," I'd try to focus my fledgling superpowers on Toast Wine Bar & Cafe (415 N. 1st St., Minneapolis) and Spill the Wine (1101 Washington Av. S., Minneapolis). I'd merge their best attributes, weed out the troublesome ones and forge a perfect downtown Minneapolis wine bar." ... Tom Horgen has a roundup of cozy dining spots, while Nelson also notes the openings of Whitney Bistro Restaurant & Onyx Bar ( Country Inn & Suites Bloomington West, 5120 American Blvd. W., Bloomington) and Irish pub Merlins Rest (3601 E. Lake St., Minneapolis). ... The Pioneer Press' Nancy Ngo profiles a new generation of local restaurateurs that is staying in the family business, including the owners of Rudolph's, St. Clair Broiler, Ngon Vietnamese Bistro and Harry Singh's Caribbean. Ngo also reports, "The owner of two Dunn Bros. in Minneapolis is about to open his first restaurant. On June 12, Kevin Sheehy plans to debut Cafe Maude in the former Connor's Deli at 54th Street and Penn Avenue." ... Critic Kathie Jenkins gives two and a half stars to China Jen (2193 Snelling Ave., Roseville) and stops by Picosa (65 Main St. S.E., Minneapolis) and Landmarc Grill (405 S. Eighth St., Minneapolis). ... The paper profiles Mark Awada, the chef at Kincaid's Fish, Chop Steak House (380 St. Peter St., St. Paul). ... City Pages critic Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl reviews Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão Churrascaria (645 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Manning's Cafe Celebrates 75 Years

IN THE NEWS: The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson awards three stars (highly recommended) in his review of Broders' Pasta Bar (5000 Penn Av. S., Minneapolis) and in his Counter Intelligence blog notes the 75th anniversary celebration June 2 of Manning's Cafe (2200 Como Av. SE., Minneapolis), during which owner Larry Manning (grandson of founder Ralph Manning) was to mark the event with 75-cent hot dogs, sodas and tap beer. ... He also reports that starting June 1, Tejas (3910 W. 50th St., Edina) is back in the lunch business and notes the recent closings of Willie's Wine Bar and Chevy's Fresh Mex in downtown Minneapolis and Maverick's Wood Grill in Champlin. ... The Pioneer Press' Kathie Jenkins visits five restaurants that recently have undergone changes in the kitchen, among them: W.A. Frost (374 Selby Ave., St. Paul); Cosmos (601 First Ave. N., Graves 601 Hotel, Minneapolis); Tria (5959 Centerville Road, North Oaks); Mission American Kitchen and Bar (77 S. Seventh St., Minneapolis); and Temple (1201 Harmon Place, Minneapolis). ... Jenkins has the 30-minute lunch at Chez Colette (Hotel Sofitel, 5601 W. 78th St., Minneapolis), and notes the opening of Amazing Thailand (3024 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis). ... Nancy Ngo looks at the new availability of Copper River salmon, including the St. Paul Grill, and notes the openings of chains Benihana (Fountains Plaza at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove) and Bruegger's (Eagan transit station on Pilot Knob Road.) ... City Pages Dara Mokowitz Grumdahl reviews Restaurant Miami (913 West Lake St., Minneapolis). ... Orlando is the site of the 13th eatery for the growing Minneapolis-based restaurant chain The Oceanaire Seafood Room, the Orlando Business Journal reports.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mickey's Makes Top 10 Diners List

Bon Appetit magazine's June 2007 issue runs Roadfood authors Jane and Michael Stern's list of America's top 10 diners. Writes the Sterns, "Diners used to be thought of as greasy spoons with dubious night-owl clientele — a reputation earned a hundred years ago when the first ones were established in decommissioned trolley cars in rough urban areas of the Northeast. But when indoor plumbing was introduced in the 1930s, they cleaned up their act and became known as a source of good square meals. As American as apple pie, the diner is one of our country's unique contributions to the world's culinary culture. Here is our honor roll of 10 primo diners where the food is good, prices are low, and the atmosphere is blue-plate bliss: Avalon Diner, Houston; Becky's Diner, Portland, ME; Blue Benn Diner, Bennington, VT; Connelly's Goody Goody Diner, St. Louis; Dutch Kitchen, Frackville, PA; JoJo's, Pittsburgh; Mickey's Dining Car, St. Paul; O'Rourke's, Middletown, CT; Summerton Diner, Summerton, SC; Wasp's Snack Bar, Woodstock, VT.

IN THE NEWS: The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson unveils the annual Taste 50: Fifty people, products, places and ideas that make Minnesota the place for food fans. Among the mentions: Don Saunders, chef-owner of Fugaise, "the Twin Cities’ most compelling under-the-radar restaurant." ... Nelson also stops by the new Landmarc Grill (405 S. 8th St., Minneapolis), while the paper's blog features Tom Horgen and Alexis McKinnis sampling the 10 weirdest concoctions in area bars, among them the Krautini at Black Forest Inn. ... The Pioneer Press' Nancy Ngo offers a roundup of area al fresco dining, starting with Day by Day Café (477 W. Seventh St., St. Paul). Ngo also reports the closing of Willie's Wine Bar in Minneapolis and also notes, "Common Roots Café is slated to open next month in the former Soba's at the busy corner of Lyndale Avenue and 26th Street in Uptown. Newcomer Danny Schwartzman, a self-described grass-roots activist, plans to offer a menu of house-made bagels, soups and sandwiches and naturally raised chicken and fish. In keeping with an environmentally friendly vibe, he's remodeling with recycled materials. ... Then, there's Musashi, slated to debut downtown this summer in a former Olive Garden on Hennepin Avenue and Sixth Street. The restaurant's spokeswoman, Virginia Ing, says the plan is to feature Japanese classics like sushi and bento boxes and eventually hibachi grilling - the city currently doesn't allow the tabletop-style cooking in restaurants. ... Meanwhile, two blocks away at the corner of Hennepin Avenue and Eighth Street, a sign in the former Zeno Café spot says Manhattan's Restaurant and Bar will open soon. Messages left for management were not returned, but according to the restaurant's voicemail, the place will open in this month." ... There's a short profile of Gaspar Perez, chef-owner of El Patio Mexican Grill (242 W. Seventh St., St. Paul). ... City Pages Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl reviews Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine (8600 Edinburgh Centre Dr., Brooklyn Park) and Naviya's Thai Kitchen of Grand Marais (6345 Penn Ave. S., Richfield). ... Japanese-style eatery Benihana, the Miami-based-chain, has opened its new restaurant in Maple Grove at 11840 Fountains Way, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports. . .. Mpls/St. Paul magazine's Andrew Zimmern's Chow and Again blog reports, "One of the best modern tavern-style eateries in town, The Sample Room, is looking for a new chef. Michael Mackay is leaving, and ownership told me he is “moving in another direction.” I love that phrase. But MM has been the chef there since day one, which is what, about five or six years now?"

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bulldog, Nye's, Half Time on Esquire List

Esquire magazine's second annual Best Bars of America list is out in the June 2007 issue. They include:

Lou's Pub & Package, Birmingham, Ala.; J Lounge, Golden Gopher, The Edison, The Broadway Bar, La Cita, Bordello, Redwood, and Bar 107, Los Angeles; Musso & Frank Grill, Hollywood, Calif.; The Polo Lounge, Beverly Hills; Beach Ball, Newport Beach, Calif.; Brennan's Pub, Marina Del Ray, Calif.; Bourbon & Branch, The Owl Tree, Vesuvio, and Zeitgeist, San Francisco; The Sportsman, Sonora, Calif.; Cruise Room, and El Chapultepec, Denver; Jimbo's, and Churchill's Pub, Miami; The Clermont Lounge, Atlanta; Lewers Lounge at the Halekulani Hotel, and La Mariana Sailing Club, Honolulu; The California Clipper, The Red Lion Pub, Bungalow, The Matchbox, Hideout, and Chipp Inn, Chicago; The Red Key, and Nicky Blaine's, Indianapolis; The Old Seelbach Bar, Louisville; The Chart Room, The Bar at Tujague's, Fritzel's European Jazz Pub, and Napoleon House, New Orleans; The Brewer's Art, and Shamrock Inn, Baltimore; B-Side Lounge, Cambridge, Mass.; No. 9 Park, Boston; Doyle's Cafe, Jamaica Plain, Mass.; The Bar at Seldom Blues, Detroit; Miller's Bar, Dearborn, Mich.; Bulldog N.E., and Nye's Polonaise Room, Minneapolis; Half Time Rec, St. Paul; John D. McGurk's, St. Louis; Any bar on the Strip, Double Down Saloon, and Petrossian Bar, Las Vegas; Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel, Little Branch, The Bar at Keens Steakhouse, Minetta Tavern, Jimmy's Corner, The Angel's Share, The Brooklyn Inn, The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Flatiron Lounge, The Saloon, San Domenico Restaurant, Spuyten Duyvil, 21 Club, Grassroots Tavern, Bill's Gay 90s, Julius', and Pegu Club, New York City; Freddy's Bar & Backroom, Brooklyn; Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, Queens; Thomas Street Tavern, Charlotte, NC; Andyman's Treehouse, Columbus, Ohio; The Library Bar & Grill, Norman, Okla.; Friendly Lounge, The Grey Lodge, and Southwark, Philadelphia; Dee's Cafe, Pittsburgh; Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, and Robert's Western World, Nashville; La Tuna, San Antonio; Donn's Depot, Austin; The Inwood Lounge, Dallas; Shooting Star Saloon, Huntsville, Utah; Sambar, Zig Zag Cafe, and Fu Kun Wu, Seattle; Hawk 'n' Dove, and The Tune Inn, Washington, DC; Holler House, Milwaukee.

IN THE NEWS: Expanding on the Esquire list, the Star-Tribune's Tom Horgen: "Barely six months old, the Bulldog N.E. (401 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls) is having an amazing year. ... The magazine lauds the Bulldog for its tasty truffle fries, gourmet hot dogs and, of course, the beer. I agree wholeheartedly, but with one small addendum: While the article suggests ordering one of the bar's great regional taps, it's the bar's almost geeky appreciation for international taps -- specifically Belgians -- that makes this place one of the best." ... The paper also offers a roundup of area farmers markets. ... The Pioneer Press' Richard Chin visits Betty Jean's Chicken 'N' Waffles (319 First Ave. N., Minneapolis) ... Critic Kathie Jenkins visits Tavern on the Avenue (825 Jefferson Ave., St. Paul), Two Guys From Italy (15265 Galaxie Ave., Apple Valley), and Will's Chicago Style Hot Dogs (344 Wabasha St., St. Paul) and notes the opening of Café Ena (4601 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis). ... Sayyad Hussain, co-owner (with Om Parkash) of Mysore Café (2819 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis) is profiled ... Pioneer Press' Nancy Ngo reports: "The owner of Singapore permanently shut the doors to her original Maplewood location in order to resurrect her South Minneapolis spot at 34th Avenue and 55th Street. Originally, Wai Wong and Kin Lee, her husband and co-owner at the time, let their business partners run the Minneapolis restaurant, which featured a mix of Ethiopian and Malaysian cuisine. But after going through two sets of partners in as many years and separating from her husband, Wong decided it was time to go it alone. Since she had only enough energy to run one restaurant, Maplewood had to go. ... Los Cabos in West St. Paul is back after a six-month hiatus. Chef-owner Dora Petraza reopened the Mexican restaurant on West Bernard Street after abruptly closing last winter. At the time, Petraza owned the restaurant with her husband, Moises, but now, the two are divorced. Petraza has kept the same menu, which includes fajitas, carnitas and guacamole made tableside. Elsewhere, the River Boat Grill docked at St. Paul's Harriet Island is back onboard. Manager Denise Mix says the recent closure was just for the winter because business was slow. The pause also gave them time to paint the place and tweak the menu. Expect Cajun dishes and more seafood. ... Stone's is no longer Mike Stone's restaurant. The majority shareholders of the downtown Stillwater spot let him go. Co-owner Eric Hawkins, who also owns Park Toole in Mahtomedi, has taken over. Yes, there are still free bacon strips at the bar." ... City Pages critic Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl reviews Café 44 (4351 France Ave. S., Minneapolis), the new restaurant attached to the France 44 Liquor Store, that "has the biggest, cheapest wine selection in the history of the Upper Midwest."

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Monday, May 14, 2007

America's Best Restaurant Cities

"Today ... most major cities in the U.S. have the kind of gastronomic diversity and regionality that is rich in every department, and even if you’ve visited recently, you can be sure that next time you go, there’ll be more new and enticing restaurants than you could possibly visit," writes Donald Burnam in a recent piece, "America's Best Restaurant Cities." "It’s getting hard not to have a great meal anywhere in the U.S.." Burnam continues.

Forbes' Top 10 Restaurant Cities:
1. New York City
2. Chicago
3. San Francisco
4. Los Angeles
5. New Orleans
6. Houston
7. Washington, D.C.
8. Atlanta
9. Boston
10. Las Vegas

Rankings were based on: Overall number of restaurants above the fast food level; Number of fine dining restaurants with national and international standing; Solid representation of regional American food; A wide segment of second-tier restaurants that would include seafood, steakhouses, and independently chef-owned restaurants; Breadth and depth of ethnic restaurants, especially if the city has neighborhood such as a Chinatown; A significant number of neigborhood restaurants where the locals tend to eat out regularly; A well-traveled clientele that regards eating out in that city one of the real pleasures of going there.

IN THE NEWS: The Star Tribune's Tom Horgen selects the top outdoor cocktail spots. Rick Nelson in the Counter Intelligence blog looks at the now-closed St. Paul eatery Table of Contents staffers Gail Mollner and Chris Stevens, now working on launching their own restaurant: Blackbird (815 W. 50th St., Minneapolis) in mid-June. Nelson also notes the closing of Golden Chalice restaurant. ... Pioneer Press' Nancy Ngo profiles Sherry Asplund, owner of Café Julia, and notes that Corona, the beer company, plans to open Cantina #1 Corona at Mall of America, featuring Mexican beer and food pairings, this fall in the former Knuckleheads. She also reports that the former Duff's Chicago Style Eatery in downtown St. Paul re-opened last week as Will's Chicago Style Hotdog. ... brunches at Spoon River, an upscale eatery owned by Brenda Langton (of the famous Cafe Brenda).
Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

City Pages Critic Wins Beard Award

Chicago's Frontera Grill won Outstanding Restaurant of the Year and Michel Richard of Michel Richard Citronelle in Washington, D.C. was named Outstanding Chef at the 2007 James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony. Hosted by CBS Early Show anchor Hannah Storm, the Beard Awards were held May 7 at Avery Fisher Hall in New York's Lincoln Center. More than 60 awards were presented by the country's pre-eminent nonprofit culinary organization, in its 20th anniversary celebration, and more than 1,600 industry leaders attended the ceremony. Other top awards went to: New York's L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, named Best New Restaurant; Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Yountville, Ca.) received the award for Outstanding Restaurateur; and David Chang (Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York) received the Rising Star Chef of the Year award. Celebrity and culinary superstar attendees included Stephanie March, Ted Allen, Katie Lee Joel, Martha Stewart, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Thomas Keller, Jose Andres, Tom Colicchio, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Padma Lakshmi, and Marcus Samuelsson. The Foundation's Media Awards took place at a separate event at the Hudson Theatre at Millennium Broadway Hotel on May 6. All Award winners received a bronze medallion etched with the image of the late James Beard, the esteemed chef, cookbook author, and food journalist. There are no cash awards. Established in 1990, the James Beard Foundation Awards recognizes outstanding achievement within the fine food and beverage industry in North America. For full awards results, please visit

Beard Award highlights are:

AMERICA'S CLASSICS: Primanti Brothers, Demetrios Patrinos, Pittsburgh, Pa.; The Pickwick, Christopher Wisocki, Duluth, Minn.; Doe's Eat Place, The Signa Family, Greenville, Miss.; Aunt Carrie's, Elsie Foy, Narragansett, R.I.; I

Brookville Hotel, Mark and Connie Martin, Abilene, Kan.; Weaver D's, Dexter Weaver, Athens, Ga.

BEST CHEF, GREAT LAKES: Grant Achatz, Alinea, Chicago

BEST CHEF, MID-ATLANTIC: R.J. Cooper, III, Vidalia, Washington, DC

BEST CHEF, MIDWEST: Celina Tio, The American Restaurant, Kansas City, Mo.

BEST CHEF, NEW YORK CITY: David Waltuck, Chanterelle, New York, NY

BEST CHEF, NORTHEAST: Frank McClelland, L'Espalier, Boston

BEST CHEF, NORTHWEST: John Sundstrom, Lark, Seattle

BEST CHEF, PACIFIC: Traci Des Jardins, Jardinière, San Francisco

BEST CHEF, SOUTH: Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans

BEST CHEF, SOUTHEAST: Scott Peacock, Watershed, Decatur, Ga.

BEST CHEF, SOUTHWEST: Nobuo Fukuda, Sea Saw, Scottsdale, Ariz.

BEST NEW RESTAURANT: L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Chef-Owner: Joël Robuchon, New York, NY

OUTSTANDING CHEF: Michel Richard, Michel Richard Citronelle, Washington, DC

OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF: Michael Laskonis, Le Bernardin, New York, NY

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT: Frontera Grill, chef-owner: Rick and Deann Bayless, Chicago

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR: Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.

OUTSTANDING SERVICE: Rick Tramonto, Gale Gand, and Richard Melman, Tru, Chicago

OUTSTANDING WINE AND SPIRITS PROFESSIONAL: Paul Draper, Ridge Vineyards, Cupertino, Calif.

OUTSTANDING WINE SERVICE: Mark Slater, Michel Richard Citronelle, Washington, DC

RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR: David Chang, Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York, NY

Selected James Beard Media Awards
Barbara Yost, The Arizona Republic
Janet Fletcher, San Francisco Chronicle
Elaine Cicora, Cleveland Scene
Miriam Morgan and Jon Bonne
San Francisco Chronicle
Dara Moskowitz, Minneapolis City Pages
TELEVISION FOOD SHOW, LOCAL: Check, Please! Bay Area, Host: Leslie Sbrocco, KQED Public Television, Producer: Tina Salter

IN THE NEWS: From MSP magazine critic Andrew Zimmern's blog Chow & Again: "Here’s the story you hate to print, but after waiting on it for months, the anecdotal research that keeps piling up is just too overwhelming not to mention. Fugaise is on life support. Not only is this a sad sign for local diners, it is especially sad because Don Saunders is a talented young man who oozes sincerity with his big smile. You want to see him win. When the rash of closings began several months ago (Levain, Five, et al.), Fugaise was on my internal Deathwatch list and seemed a prime candidate for a February demise based on the tales I was hearing of empty dining rooms, light reservation books, shrinking staff . ... I was not sure they could last that month, routinely one of the slowest in the biz. I have been in there only to shoot a news story in the last six months, but even back in the fall, Don conceded to me that things were tough. Recent press on him had me hopeful, but that often does not translate into sales. The new Cobalt development has been no panacea for the ailing businesses in the neighborhood, and the last three friends of mine to dine at Fugaise have all sat in empty dining rooms. Over the last few weeks, I have heard that the restaurant was offering incentives to individuals steering business their way, not unusual for large restaurants (who work local concierges feverishly for business), but a telling sign. Put it all together, and it smelled like an imminent closing. So what do I do, say nothing or do something? If you like this restaurant, go there. Soon. And tell your friends, perhaps it will make a difference."

In happier news, newly honored James Beard Award winner Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of City Pages has a lengthy piece on upcoming restaurants in the Twin Cities area, led by details on Alex Roberts, famed as chef and co-owner of Restaurant Alma, opening Brasa Rotisserie in Northeast. ... The Star-Tribune's Tom Horgen offers a guide to late-night coffee shops, while Rick Nelson awards three stars to Saffron Restaurant & Lounge, 123 N. 3rd St. in Minneapolis and also takes a look at Pi, 2532 25th Av. S. in Minneapolis ... Pioneer Press spotlights Brian Hehr, chef/co-owner of Jensen's Café/Jensen's Wine and Dine (12750 Nicollet Ave. S., Burnsville). reports, "Ruam Mit Thai in downtown St. Paul has closed for the second time this year. Whether it's temporary or permanent remains unclear. The owners could not be reached, but on the door a sign from a law firm on behalf of building manager Gingold Co. reads: 'Unpaid rent late fees total $23,459.31.' ... Panino's on Rice Street in St. Paul has closed. If you're craving paninis, pastas and pizza, there's still Panino's in North Oaks off County Road 96." ... Ngo also notes, "Michael Kutscheid, the cape-wearing owner of the former Kapoochi's on Nicollet Mall, plans to open the restaurant a block from the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. He has nabbed a spot on Ninth Street and Washington Avenue - in the same building as Wasabi Japanese restaurant. Gary Stenberg, a veteran of Oceanaire in Minneapolis, will head the kitchen." She also mentions the opening of Whitney Bistro and Onyx Bar, recently debuted at Country Inn Suites at Interstate 494 and Minnesota 100 in Bloomington.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Beard Awards Await; Best of Twin Cities

Roughly the dining out equivalent of The Academy Awards, The James Beard Foundation annual awards ceremony takes place Monday, May 7, at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. Minneapolis' talented Tim McKee of La Belle Vie and Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma are among the five nominees for Best Chef: Midwest. Go to for the complete list, but here's a partial list of national nominees:

-- Outstanding Restaurant: Boulevard, San Francisco; Frontera Grill, Chicago; Magnolia Grill, Durham, N.C., Picholine, New York; Spiaggia, Chicago.
-- Best New Restaurant: A Voce, New York City; Chochon, New Orleans; Cut, Beverly Hill, Calif; L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, New York City; Momofuku Ssam Bar, New York City; Restaurant Guy Savoy, Las Vegas.
-- Outstanding Restaurateur: Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif; Keith McNally, Balthazar, New York City; Richard Melman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (R.J. Grunts, Wildfire, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!), Chicago; Drew Nieporent, Myriad Restaurant Group (Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Rubicon), New York City; Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean Georges restaurant, New York City.
-- Outstanding Chef: Tom Colicchio, Craft, New York City; Lee Hefter, Spago, Beverly Hills, Calif.; Jean Joho, Everest, Chicago; Paul Kahan, Blackbird, Chicago; Michel Richard, Michel Richard Citronelle, Washington, D.C.
-- Rising Star Chef: Nate Appleman, A16, San Francisco; Graham Elliot Bowles, Avenues at The Peninsula Hotel, Philadelphia; David Chang, Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York; Patrick Connelly, Radius, Boston; Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park, New York City.

IN THE NEWS: City Pages annual Best of the Twin Cities is just out. ( Among the food and dining award winners: Roosters BBQ, barbecue (; West Indies Soul Food, soul food; Uncle Franky's, hot dogs (; Napa Valley Grille, burger (, Matt's Bar, readers choice; Vincent- A Restaurant, gourmet burger (; Cafe Barbette, fries (; Galactic Pizza, pizza (, Pizza Luce, readers choice; Pizza Nea, gourmet pizza (; El Burrito Mercado, burrito (; The Brothers, deli (; Spoonriver, salad (; Franklin Street Bakery, bakery (, Wuollet Bakery, readers choice; Rustica Bakery, bread (; Sebastian Joe's Ice Cafe, ice cream parlor; and Mel-O-Glaze Bakery, doughnuts (

Restaurant magazine just released its list of the world's top 100 restaurants. ( Here are the U.S. entries:

The French Laundry, Yountville, Ca. (No. 4)
Per Se, New York City (No. 9)
Jean Georges, New York City (No. 18)
Le Bernardin, New York City (No. 26)
Charlie Trotter's, Chicago (No. 30)
Daniel, New York City (No. 32)
Alinea, Chicago (No. 36)
Chez Panisse, Berkeley, Ca. (No. 40)
Masa, New York City (No. 56)
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the Four Seasons, New York City (No. 64)
Peter Lugar, Brooklyn, NY (No. 69)
Nobu New York, New York City (No. 89)
Gramercy Tavern, New York City (No. 90)
WD-50, New York City (No. 91)
Zuni Café, San Francisco (No. 98)
Alex at Wynn, Las Vegas (No. 100)

IN THE NEWS: The New York Times featured "A Foodie Scene in Twin Cities" in its April 29 travel section, with 112 Eatery, Wolfgang Puck's 20.21, Chambers Kitchen, Cue, and Spoonriver among the featured restaurants. ... Landry's Restaurants Inc. plans to convert its Joe's Crab Shack in Maple Grove into a Saltgrass Steakhouse, with a late 2007 or early opening, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports. ... The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson awards three stars in his review of Good Day Cafe, 5410 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley, while Tom Horgan salutes 25-year-old The Loon Cafe (, 500 1st Av. N. in Minneapolis Nelson also reports on the reopening of The Little Wagon, 420 S. 4th St., Minneapolis, and the closings of Shelly's Restaurant, 6501 Wayzata Blvd., St. Louis Park, and Cafe Limon, 611 W. Lake St, Minneapolis. Cafe Limon's owners Hector Ruiz and Erin Ungerman plan to open the more expansive Cafe Ena, 4601 Grande Ave. S., Minneapolis, sometime in May, Nelson writes. ... The Pioneer Press' Nancy Ngo examines the reopenings of eateries Two Guys From Italy, Little Venetian, Little Wagon, Cafe di Napoli and Town Talk Diner. Ngo profiles Wendy Puckett, chef and manager, of Betty Jean's Chicken n Waffles (319 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; and also reports on: the transformation of Nochee in downtown Minneapolis to the more casual Harry's American Food and Cocktails, with an opening sometime sometime in June; the impending opening of Harvey McLain's Bistro Levain in Minneapolis sometime in June; the opening of Luxor Lounge in St. Paul; and the continued delay of reopening of Mama's Pizza on Rice Street in St. Paul ( now set for sometime this summer. The restaurant closed in February after a water main broke. And Pioneer Press critic Kathie Jenkins takes a quick look at the new Fogo de Chao (, 645 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. ... also weighs in on Fogo de Chao. ...