Q: We’re headed to Grand Marais. Where should we eat?
A: The Angry Trout Cafe (408 W. Hwy. 61, Grand Marais, 1-218-387-1265, angrytroutcafe.com) belongs on every North Shore itinerary, for its postcard-worthy waterfront locale and loving approach to Lake Superior lake trout, herring and whitefish. It’s a true classic.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Crooked Spoon Cafe, 17 W. Wisconsin St., Grand Marais, 1-218-387-2779, crookedspooncafe.com), for chef/co-owner Nathan Hingos’ spirited cooking, and for the rooftop bar.
Dining in the enthralling, one-of-a-kind splendor at Naniboujou Lodge (20 Naniboujou Trail, Grand Marais, 1-218-387-2688, naniboujou.com) is definitely a Minnesota bucket list experience. The domed ceiling — the shape mimics an upside-down canoe — is painted in a color-soaked, art deco-filtered Cree Indian pattern, and the massive rock fireplace weighs in at 200 tons. The kitchen is at its best at breakfast and Sunday brunch, although afternoon tea ($15) is also a charmer.
Follow the crowds to World’s Best Donuts (10 E. Wisconsin St., Grand Marais, 1-218-387-1345, worldsbestdonutsmn.com), and order a signature Skizzle. Or two.
Oh, and on the drive up the shore? Recharge your batteries with a towering slice of coconut cream pie at the Lemon Wolf Cafe (Hwy. 61, Beaver Bay, Minn., 1-218-226-7225, lemonwolfcafe.com).
Q: What’s going on with the expansion project at Restaurant Alma (528 University Av. SE., Mpls., 612-379-4909, restaurantalma.com)?
A: Chef/owner Alex Roberts reports that construction is underway. While the six-room inn (on the building’s second floor) and Cafe Alma (the former Dunn Bros. space, adjacent to the restaurant) are being readied for a late-fall opening, here’s a way to get a preview of coming attractions: pastry chef Carrie Riggs is test-driving some of her ideas — in the form of breads (love that focaccia), sweet and savory tarts, fruit-filled galettes, single-serving chocolate Bundt cakes, scones, canelés and cookies — at the weeknight edition of the Northeast Farmers Market (northeastmarket.org). It runs Thursdays from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. near the former Grain Belt Brewery at 1215 NE. Marshall St. in Minneapolis. Arrive early.
Q: Are there any summer parties we should know about?
A: Absolutely. On June 24, 50-plus Minnesota breweries will be tapping their wares at the fifth-annual Beer Dabbler at the 2016 Twin Cities Pride Festival. They’ll be joined by 10 food trucks, including Gastrotuck, Hot Indian Foods, the Anchor Fish & Chips and Minnesota Nice Cream. The taps run from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Loring Park in Minneapolis. Tickets are $40 (available at beerdabbler.com), and buy unlimited beer; food is extra.
They’ll be five times as many food trucks corralled into Uptown Minneapolis on June 26 for the Uptown Food Truck Festival. From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., 50 trucks will take over Hennepin and Holmes avenues between 31st and Lake streets in Minneapolis. Also in the mix: live music, locally brewed beer and cider and $5 signature dishes at each truck. Details at uptownfoodtruckfestival.com.
Also on June 26, Travail Kitchen & Amusements (4124 W. Broadway., Robbinsdale, travailkitchen.com) and Pig Ate My Pizza (4154 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale) are throwing their third annual Lakeside Party. Join several thousands of your closest pals from 1 to 8 p.m. at Lakeside Terrace Park (3769 Crystal Lake Blvd., Robbinsdale), when ticket holders will enjoy live music, all-ages games and beers and ciders from Fair State Brewing Cooperative, Surly, Fulton Brewing, Indeed Brewing Co., Bauhaus Brew Labs, F-Town Brewing Co. and Sweetland Orchard. And food, of course: fried chicken, smoked pork shoulder tacos with potato salad, sausages, skewered shrimp and more, plus ice-cold sweets courtesy of FrioFrio pops. Admission is $10 (available at tempotickets.com/lakeside2016), and food and drink tickets can be purchased on-site.
Q: What’s new on the restaurant front?
A: Plenty. Rose Street Patisserie (2811 W. 43rd St., Mpls., 612-259-7921), sibling to the glorious Patisserie 46 (4552 Grand Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-3257, patisserie46.com) is up and running. At his Linden Hills newcomer (find it tucked behind Upton 43), baker/owner John Kraus offers a Patisserie 46-like selection, with a few seasonal savory add-ons (sandwiches, flatbreads) plus the Rose Street, a beauty of a white chocolate-raspberry-hazelnut-almond confection. There’s wine and beer, too, and a roomy setting that will soon be boosted by a patio. It’s open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
The Shake Shack chain has finally made its Minnesota debut, at the Mall of America (322 North Garden, 952-466-6056, shakeshack.com), and the hype has a basis in reality. Open for lunch and dinner daily.
Chef Michael Agan is cooking dinner — shrimp and grits with grilled scallions, cod with braised artichokes — at just-opened Xavi (5607 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., 612-825-6900, xavirestaurant.com) Tuesday through Saturday evenings.
After a few nights of practice run-throughs with friends and family, 32-seat PinKU Japanese Street Food (20 University Av. NE., Mpls., 612-584-3167, pinkujapanese.com) was set to quietly open to the public on Saturday. Get in line for chef John Sugimura’s pot stickers, fried ramen with crispy pork, spicy tuna on crispy rice and a handful of other affordable, quick-service dishes. It’s open 5 to 10 p.m. daily, with late-night hours (to midnight, Thursday through Saturday) coming soon.
Q: Do you have a good burger recommendation?
A: Always, and you can find them on my weekly burger blog, Burger Friday (startribune.com/tabletalk). Here’s a tip: The phenomenal cheeseburger that chef Mike DeCamp has been serving at night at Constantine (1115 2nd Av. S., Mpls., 612-886-1297, constantinempls.com) is now available on his daily lunch menu — in a wicked double-patty format — upstairs at Monello (1115 2nd Av. S., Mpls., 612-353-6207, monellompls.com). It’s $14, served with fries or salad.
Q: Any idea what, if anything, is happening with the former La Belle Vie and the former Forum Cafeteria spaces?
A: Since the elegant La Belle Vie space is inside the elegant 510 Groveland condominium, I posed your question to its president, Christopher Hoffer. “We are actively engaged in conversations with several potential operators,” he said. “When a deal is struck and the ink is dry, I believe the restaurateur will want to share the news of their future endeavor in 510 Groveland.”
As for the Forum, who knows? By my count, six restaurateurs have held the lease on this mint-and-mirrors wonderland over the past three decades. With that track record, maybe it’s time for a rethink. A Victoria’s Secret outlet, no. But perhaps converting it a special events space? Then this priceless art deco treasure would at least remain marginally open to the public. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be bat mitzvahed in the Forum’s 1930s giddiness?