This weekend, after eight standard-setting years, Chez Jude (411 W. Hwy. 61, Grand Marais, is saying goodbye.

Like countless Twin Cities visitors, I've enjoyed many inventive and sharply executed meals at the restaurant -- I still recall every detail of the fine afternoon tea that I relished this past June -- and the closing is a loss for the region.

But the bright side of the announcement is that chef Judi Barsness and her spouse and business partner, Peter Barsness, are taking the opportunity to segue into semi-retirement.

"We got a great offer on the property, and so we decided that this is probably the best way to ease ourselves into retirement," said Judi.

"Maybe this is my way of weaning myself off the adrenaline rush that comes with working as a chef. People will often tell me that they think I'm a workaholic, but what I really am is an adrenaline junkie."

The couple plan to continue their catering operations and cooking classes, in a new, to-be-determined Grand Marais location.

For its final weekend, the restaurant will serve lunch and dinner Thursday and Friday, and will conclude with a six-course harvest dinner ($75 per person, reservations at 1-218-387-9113) on Saturday. The dinner is sold out, but there's a waiting list to cover last-minute cancellations. Cost is $75 per person plus tax and tip.

The dinner will also be a reunion of sorts. "We've had a great team of people who have worked with us over the years," said Judi. "Saturday is special for me because four of the original people who helped open Chez Jude that first night are able to come and be with us on our last night. We're definitely going to go out with a bang, and a wow."

The announcement comes on the heels of another notable North Shore closing: Nokomis Restaurant & Bar (5593 North Shore Dr., Duluth, 1-218-525-2286,, which is serving its final meal on Sunday.

Movies + food = fun

What a great combination: Short films about food, and food., the Star Tribune's weekly going-out guide, is sponsoring the Small Bites Feastival during the Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul's Feast For the Eyes Food & Wine Film Festival, being held this weekend at the St. Anthony Main Theater (115 SE. Main St., Mpls.)

Here's how it works: Pay an admission fee ($20 for one event, $35 for both) and enjoy small bites from a collection of Twin Cities restaurants, including Barbette, Butcher & the Boar and Birdhouse on Friday evening (starting at 7 p.m.), and the French Meadow Bakery & Cafe, Mojo Monkey Donuts and Rustica for Sunday brunch (starting at 11 a.m.). An hour of food-related short films follows.

For details, go to