Nightlife: Mocktailing at WSK's new outpost

  • Article by: MICHAEL RIETMULDER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 29, 2012 - 2:22 PM

The popular food truck lands Uptown and launches a drink program without hard liquor.

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WSK co-owners (and siblings) Sameh, left, and Saed Wadi at the new World Street Kitchen.

Photo: Courtney Perry, Special to the Star Tribune

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One of the pioneers of the Twin Cities' mobile-food movement finally has gone stationary. Don't fear, food-truck fans: The four-wheeled World Street Kitchen will return next season.

Last weekend, owners (and brothers) Sameh and Saed Wadi opened a brick-and-mortar home under their popular nameplate in Uptown, on Lyndale Avenue S. near 28th Street.

While the international street-food angle is the same (yes, you'll be able to satisfy your Yum Yum Bowl cravings), the new digs give the Wadis more freedom in their menu.

"My flat top is as big as my whole kitchen in the food truck," said Sameh Wadi, head chef and co-owner, referring to his grill.

Along with new food items, the Wadis, who also run Saffron, are rolling out some boozier treats. Well, semi-boozy.

World Street Kitchen doesn't have a full liquor license, which Wadi said doesn't suit its fast-casual concept, but that didn't stop the Wadis from getting clever with a cocktail program using beer, wine and sake as base ingredients for nine "mixed drink thingies."

Wadi's not trying to compete with the Marvel Bars of the world, but he does want to spruce up his drink list and creatively complement the food while working within his license. "A lot of the food tends to be very bold-flavored, so we wanted the cocktails to tame down on the flavor," said the "Iron Chef" alum.

Chef turned drink general (or, you know, bar manager) Rob Jones helped design Saffron's cocktail menu. This is the Bradstreet Craftshouse-schooled beverage bro's first foray into the world of half-cocked cocktails. "It's hard, man, when all of a sudden half your portfolio's gone," Jones said. "It's a fun challenge, though."

His roster ranges from a conventional michelada to the peculiarly pleasant Usagi Yojimbo, made with sake, carrot juice, Bittercube orange, an aperitif wine and house-made ginger syrup. Fittingly named after a rabbit character appearing in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," the robust mocktail is the most adventurous in Jones' fleet. The Gypsy Tickle, one of a few champagne cocktail variations and the best in class, is another standout, with a flavor fusillade of sparkling wine, jasmine and kaffir lime.

Still, it's the back-to-basics Premostura -- a bitters-spiked Grain Belt that Jones used to special-order for himself in northeast Minneapolis dive bars -- that's been a hit with the cooks. "It's just so stupid and so good," Jones said. "It's taking a beer that a lot of people think is subpar and totally changing the dynamic of what that beer is."

Initially taking World Street Kitchen to the road was somewhat of a detour, Wadi admits, as the plan was for a traditional, grounded restaurant. Despite the quasi-cocktail crafting and menu maneuvering his new eatery permits, he clearly has a soft spot for the portable version.

"It's too much fun to let it go, man!" Wadi said, grinning beneath his fedora.

If only food trucks could sling curbside cocktails.

2743 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-840-2522, www.eatwsk.com

A site worth waiting for

Last week St. Louis Park's Steel Toe Brewing won City Council approval to open an on-site taproom.

In line with the brewery's working-man moniker, owner/brewer Jason Schoneman is building the small, in-house pint post by hand. Schoneman said he hopes to open in the coming weeks, but has been busy brewing his Lunker barleywine ale for a holiday release.

4848 W. 35th St., St. Louis Park,

952-955-9965, www.steeltoebrewing.com

Altered states

Twin Cities-reared Christian Bauhofer, a dance-music producer who goes by the name Minnesota -- though he is based in California -- is returning Saturday for a hometown gig. The onetime local boy has a burgeoning bass-music career thanks to his melody-flecked blend of dubstep and glitch-hop.

The 23-year-old's week-old "Altered States" EP embraces trap and ambient elements with the genre-tweaking nuance of Colorado contemporaries Big Gigantic and Paper Diamond, with whom Bauhofer has toured. 56K (a local pairing of Profresher and Toffler) and others open.

9 p.m. the Loft, 711 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 18-plus $15-$20, 612-333-6100, www.skywaytheater.com

Michael Rietmulder writes about bars and nightlife.

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