Bottle Rocket, the Blue Plate Restaurant Company’s remake of the former Scusi, will debut on Valentine’s Day.
“We were aiming to beat the Lexington, but I guess they got us by a couple days,” said co-owner Stephanie Shimp with a chuckle, referencing the long-renovated institution on Grand Avenue. “A little friendly St. Paul rivalry.”
For Bottle Rocket (1806 St. Clair Av., St. Paul, 651-789-3333, bottlerocketmn.com), the wait will be just under a year after closing Scusi in March 2016.
The new iteration in the 70-seat space will lose the Italian motifs in favor of an easygoing American menu with a hint of Southern flair.
Culinary director Bill Kaufmann will churn out dishes such as tamales with griddled spoonbread and salsa verde, chicken and waffles — a Blue Plate specialty — turkey burgers, shrimp toasts, smoked tuna salad and baked spaghetti pie, a nod to a popular Scusi dish.
Lunch and dinner will be available daily, and breakfast will be served up on the weekends. There’s a new counter peering into the kitchen, as well.
“Bottle Rocket should be accessible to people who live in the neighborhood,” Shimp said. “Scusi was a little ‘special occasion.’ I think this will be a lot more approachable for some people.”
In addition to remodeling the bar area, Shimp & Co. have added a full liquor license and a craft cocktail program with the help of Erik Eastman of Easy & Oskey (easyandoskey.com) flavor company — look for such classics as an old fashioned and a gimlet with pink peppercorn simple syrup, as well as a beet margarita and a bottled negroni with cedar gin. A wine list will be stocked with about 15 “affordable” options by the glass.
Shimp is expecting afternoon crowds. For kids, there will be classic soft-serve flavors and milkshakes available for after-school walk-ins. The “aggressive” adult social hour will feature $5 wine, as well as two-for-one beers and single-pour cocktails.
“That should draw quite a crowd,” she said. “The happy hour at Scusi was always pretty good.”