The snow and ice may say otherwise, but warm weather can’t be too far away when Lake Pepin’s seasonal restaurants begin coming out of their annual hibernation. Several are launching their 2013 season this weekend.

The region’s longtime harbinger of spring, the 33-year-old Harbor View Cafe (314 1st St., Pepin, Wis., 1-715-442-3893,, opens Friday, with an initial schedule of lunch and dinner Friday through Sunday. Hello, cassoulet and kedgeree.

Fans of the popular Chef Shack food truck can get their late-winter fix at Chef Shack Bay City (W6379 Main St., Bay City, Wis., 1-715-594-3060, The bricks-and-mortar version of Lisa Carlson’s and Carrie Summer’s standard-setter is also kicking off its rotation (Friday and Saturday dinner, Sunday brunch) — and seasonally focused menus — this weekend.

Also opening Friday: Bogus Creek Cafe (N2049 Spring St., Stockholm, Wis., 1-715-442-5017, It’s going to be a while before diners can enjoy owner Colleen Flynn’s charming patio, but the breakfast-all-day menu, supplemented by lunch and a wide range of house-baked breads and sweets, will follow a Friday-through-Sunday schedule.

Coming next month: When it returns April 5, the Smiling Pelican Bakeshop (W3556 Hwy. 35, Maiden Rock, Wis., 1-715-448-3807) will continue its regular Friday-Saturday-Sunday format. Count me a fan of baker Sandra Thielman’s lavender-ginger sugar cookies and her awesome quiches, and I fully believe that if you don’t flip for her pies, then there’s something wrong with you.

Closer to home, there has to be a thaw on the way when Twin Cities drive-ins — the ones that shut down for the winter, anyway — start pouring root beer once again. The Minnetonka Drive-In (4658 Shoreline Dr., Spring Park, 952-471-9383) is already up and running, serving 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.


New in Bloomington

Opening Friday: the Twin Cities’ second FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar, part of the $137.5 million Radisson Blu hotel at the Mall of America (2100 Killewbrew Dr., Bloomington, 952-851-4040, Chef Paul Lynch’s local, seasonal menu promises bison bone marrow on toast, a walleye burger, wild rice soup and lefse with honey butter.

Meanwhile, at FireLake’s downtown location (31 S. 7th St., Mpls.), check out chef Jim Kynd­berg’s five-course dinner celebrating Stillwater-brewed Lift Bridge beer on March 28. Cost is $55 per person (tax and gratuity extra), reservations at 612-216-3473.

Crave Cafe & Deli (8500 Normandale Lake Blvd., 952-582-4800, opened this week. The quick-service extension of the Crave chain serves breakfast (pastries, quiche, frittatas) and lunch (salads, soups, sandwiches and sushi) on weekdays.


Vote local, vote often

The poll associated with Food & Wine magazine’s annual best new chef feature is underway, and the online competition features Minneapolis practitioners Paul Berglund at the Bachelor Farmer, Thomas Boemer at Corner Table, Mike DeCamp at La Belle Vie and Jamie Malone at Sea Change. Cast your (free) vote at, through Monday.