If you find yourself wondering where the fancy people take their luncheon these days, the answer is rising from the outer edge of the Southdale Center shopping complex.
Off Edina's 69th Street, a stately, haunted mansion of a building towers over a mall parking lot on one side and bustling France Avenue on the other. Inside this new Restoration Hardware furniture and design store (6801 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-206-6307, restorationhardware.com), light fixtures priced well above your monthly salary wait for shoppers of a certain echelon, with a certain square footage at home. The showrooms are "galleries." The parking lot has valet. The bathrooms are trimmed in a creamy, silvery marble.
RH, as the brand is known for short, isn't billing itself as a point of transaction so much as an experience. (Though, yes, they would like you to purchase a $16,000 sofa.) And nothing crowns the experience like a dejeuner on the climate-controlled rooftop.
Up two flights of the grand staircase, diners and would-be shoppers enter a light-filled dining room, encased in a glass roof that will be the saving grace of sun-starved Minnesotans come winter. Flanking the room are two wine terraces with balconies. (Certain lookouts on the rooftop aren't as scenic as others; gazing over treetops to the west sure beats staring out at grey pavement and concrete to the east.) A burbling fountain provides light acoustic ambience and giant chandeliers — many, many chandeliers — sparkle above. The inspiration is part Napa Valley, part Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. It is, in a word, opulent.
The clientele are as much a part of the scene as the surrounds. This is a fashion show with a meal: On an average weekday, you'll see more designer apparel and accessories here — Coach, Gucci, Balmain — than you will in a lifetime of living in Minneapolis.
The menu, and its price points, fall in line with the display. A $30 lobster roll sets a pile of plump red lobster atop a sturdy, buttery brioche. A snappy shrimp cocktail rings in at $21. The burger, a classic presentation with sharp American cheese, pickles, chopped red onion, and Dijonaise on a mirror-shiny bun, also costs $21 — $27 if you add the pork belly bacon. A deconstructed banana split runs $21 as well.
If you're adding wine to the festivities — and the environment will inspire such — tack on at least $13 a glass on the low end. Beer and cider stay in the $7-8 range.
Armed with any advance knowledge of RH, you won't have come here hunting a bargain. The brand's existing retail restaurants in New York City, West Palm and Chicago all opened as places to see and be seen. At the lavish preview party for the Edina location, organizers flew in model/DJ Chelsea Leyland from New York and served fresh bellinis by Cipriani NYC. (Giuseppe Cipriani was the bellini's creator in the early 20th century.)
This is a taste of something wholly different from any other dining experience in the Twin Cities, an excuse to get fancy and pretend you live somewhere you can sip rosé in the sun all year long.