After kicking off its latest soon-to-be global restaurant concept in Brussels, Belgium, Radisson Red has brought its new baby to Minneapolis for its “flagship” location No. 2.
We got a chance to check out the upcoming OuiBar + Ktchn (yep, no typos here – that’s the spelling) for a quick sneak peek before it opens on Nov. 16.
The light-hearted eatery, just inside the front door of Radisson Red – a hotel the branding folks are calling “inspired by art, music and fashion” – is walled on the exterior by paned, floor-to-ceiling windows and sports a giant Adam Turman mural of a flock of crows wrapping around the protruding bar and into the main dining area. White tables, red stools and booths and rounded yellow chairs make the room look like something out of an IKEA catalogue.
Along with a modest lineup of U.S. wines, there’s a big focus on local beers with all seven mainstays on draft coming from in-state breweries – Tin Whiskers Brewing Co., Bauhaus Brew Labs, Insight Brewing, Castle Danger Brewery, Sociable Cider Werks, Bent Paddle Brewing Co., and Surly Brewing Co.
“We always try to have a nod or draw inspiration from the local market we’re in,” hotel curator Ryan Foley said.
And as for the food? Think of the offerings from lead cook Wil Vonmandel (previously of Saffron and Travail Kitchen & Amusements as more like a cascade of snacks – a perky beet and goat cheese croquette salad, mini spring rolls with a Kewpie mayo, and creamy tater tots filled with ham and dunked in what they describe as a bacon ketchup, among other things. There are also bite-size burgers as well as a regular-size version, with both patties made from a blend of ground beef and mushrooms.
“Some people just want a well-done burger,” Vonmandel said. “And I wanted to find a way to present that but also give them a juicy, satisfying burger.
“And it cuts down on the beef,” he added. “It makes it a little more healthy.”
Following the rules of restaurants, the downtown restaurant will offer breakfast (a simple, five-item menu including a personal quiche with a gluten-free crust, a Belgian waffle and hot steel oats), lunch and dinner. A 48-seat patio should open shortly after the opening – with heaters! – as weather allows.
So I’m guessing you have just one question remaining … What’s with the name? Where are all the vowels? What’s a “Yes” bar? Yeah, we were wondering, too.
According to Foley, the name was spawned one night when the branding team was sitting in a bar in Glasgow, “spit-balling.” In Scotland, apparently, bars are fondly referred to as “wee bars,” for example: “I’m going down to the wee bar.” That phrase stuck – except in French form, for reasons that are still unclear to us. And while they were at it, they thought they’d rework the spelling of ‘kitchen.’
As the Radisson Red folks might say: Voila, lad.
“It’s just this playfulness we’ve tried to keep throughout,” Foley said. “This idea of having fun, trying fun things in the kitchen.
“You want to have a bold identity, keep it simple and make it something you’ll remember.”