Uptown Minneapolis is getting a bakery, and it has an impressive pedigree.
Sarah Botcher, the gifted baker who supplies the exceptional goodies to all five Spyhouse Coffeeshops in Minneapolis and St. Paul, is opening her own bakery/cafe.
When it opens next spring, Black Walnut Bakery (blackwalnutbakery.com) will occupy the prime corner spot in a new retail-office-apartment project under construction by the Lander Group at 32nd Street and Hennepin Avenue S.
"They contacted me, and I thought, 'The stars have aligned,' " Botcher said. "It's the perfect location. Uptown could use a good bakery, to be honest."
She's excited about opening in the neighborhood, and not just because she lives in the area and will be able to walk to work.
"There are a ton of residents in Uptown, young people and families," she said. "I've always wanted to have my own bakery, and this has been a long time coming. At this point, I'm ready to move forward and take the next step into my own retail space."
It's also not lost on Botcher that her bakery is going into a space that's a block away from the former Lucia's, where Lucia Watson and her successors operated a popular bakery/cafe for more than a decade.
"I used to go to Lucia's every week," Botcher said. "I loved sitting on the patio, with the newspaper, and coffee, and a muffin. I hope that my bakery becomes that place for people, that it has that feeling of welcomeness and belonging that we all felt at Lucia's. I hope it can fill that void, because Lucia's has been missed by many."
Black Walnut started in 2013 as a stand at the Minneapolis Farmers Market on Nicollet Mall. Botcher segued to Saturday morning pop-ups at One on One Bicycle Studio in the North Loop in 2014, and a year later she was supplying all the baked goods for One on One and all Spyhouse Coffee shops. She'll continue her wholesale baking ventures.
For the brick-and-mortar Black Walnut, the plan is to continue producing the croissants, scones, kouign amann, cookies and other goodies that have forged a loyal fan base at Spyhouse and One on One.
Layer cakes, sold by the slice, will become a major part of the business, along with pies. She's planning a savory side, as well.
"I've got a lot of R&D in the works," Botcher said. "There's a lot of activity in the kitchen right now, although I don't want to say what, just yet."
She said that she's happy to be part of a Twin Cities bakery boom.
"It's a renaissance," she said. "Fifteen years ago, when I first started baking, it was hard to find baking jobs, and learn. There just weren't a lot of places to work, and the staff stayed put. Now there are so many wonderful bakeries. John [Kraus, of Patisserie 46 and Rose Street Patisserie], Solveig [Tofte, of Sun Street Breads], Diane [Yang, of Bellecour], Michelle [Gayer, of the Salty Tart], they've all got their own style. Edwards Dessert Kitchen just opened. It's great. I think there's room for everybody. John says that there should be bakeries in every neighborhood, and it's true."
Moving west on Lake Street
On the subject of the Salty Tart (920 E. Lake St., Mpls., saltytart.com), this is one of those bad news/good news situations.
The former, first: After a decadelong run, the bakery is leaving the Midtown Global Market. Chef/owner Michelle Gayer said the Salty Tart's last day at the market is Sept. 30.
On a positive note, the plan is to reopen — the next day — at a new location. Gayer is building a retail outpost (literally, with the help of family and friends) in the nearby commercial kitchen she's been operating for the past year. It's at 2940 Harriet Av. S., about a mile west of Lake Street and Chicago Avenue.
The exit is a loss for the Midtown Global Market. Gayer is a four-time James Beard award nominee, and her nationally famous bakery has been a high-profile anchor for the market since Gayer sold her first coconut macaroon in the spring of 2008.
It's been a busy 18 months for Gayer. Last summer, she launched an outpost at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and late last fall she opened a Salty Tart bakery/cafe in the Market House Collaborative (289 E. 5th St., St. Paul).
Bowls, filled to the brim
Avid runners Kate and Patrick Sidoti met near Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Cahoun) in Minneapolis when they both happened to be out on a run.
"Ever since that first run, we knew that we wanted to work together and create something," Kate Sidoti said.
They eventually married and are now making that first-meeting goal a reality. They're collaborating on a restaurant, choosing a site that's a stone's throw from the lake.
The menu at Brim (1806 W. Lake St., Mpls., brimrestaurant.com) will focus on nutrient-packed bowls, assembled in a Chipotle-like mix-and-match array of ingredients, most of them sourced locally: base (brown rice, sticky rice, wild rice), sides (crispy Brussels sprouts in a fish sauce, cauliflower-goat cheese gratin), proteins (grass-fed beef, arctic char, baked tempeh, poached eggs), toppings (avocado, microgreens) and dressings (cashew-chipotle aioli, citrus balsamic), each served from a long line of brightly colored Le Creuset Dutch ovens.
"We want to be approachable for all," Sidoti said. "You can be 100 percent vegan, or you can have a steak-and grain bowl. Ninety-five percent of what's in each bowl is plant-based. It's very vegetable-forward. We'll use meat as a condiment."
A basic bowl will start at $12.99, with add-ons taking the top price to $16.99.
Kate Sidoti is the restaurant's chef. She trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City and has spent much of her career as a private chef. Patrick Sidoti works in production for Fallon, the Minneapolis ad agency. This is the couple's first restaurant.
"It's a dream experience to be part of this food community," she said.
She has been a wheat-free baker since age 12. The restaurant's made-from-scratch baked goods, following Paleo and gluten-free norms, will start with a few cookies, including an almond butter-chocolate-cherry combination. Once Brim is up and running, the Sidotis plan to expand into nondairy ice creams.
Beverages will include local beers, kombucha and biodynamic wines, as well as a high-tech Toper brand coffeemaker that produces, at the push of a button, a wide range of brewed coffee beverages in 20 seconds.
"It's a big investment," Kate Sidoti said. "But it's less expensive than hiring a barista."
Brim is located in the space formerly occupied by JJ's Wine Bar, and the couple have extensively overhauled the place. Accordion-style windows link the sunny dining room with a patio that looks out on the neighborhood's constant parade of walkers, runners and bikers.
The plan is to start with lunch and dinner daily, adding weekday breakfast and weekend brunch next winter or spring. The opening is set for Sept. 22.
Sept. 14 is the opening day of Keg and Case Market (928 W. 7th St., St. Paul, kegandcase.com) in the former Schmidt Brewery complex. Most of the food hall's vendors will be open when the doors open, although a pair of anchor restaurants will debut later: In Bloom on Sept. 21, and Pimento Jamaican Kitchen later this fall.
Also opening: Lat 14 (8815 7th Av. N., Golden Valley, lat14.com) will welcome diners on Sept. 22. Chef/owner Ann Ahmed will begin with dinner service, then add lunch starting Oct. 1
Read full reviews and other restaurant news at startribune.com/dining.