Barring an unforeseen circumstance, it looks as if J.P. Samuelson is going to get his own restaurant. The chef, who once ran the kitchens at D'Amico Cucina and Bobino, expects J.P. to open this fall next door to the Jungle Theater in south Minneapolis' Lyn-Lake neighborhood.
"It's going to be an American bistro," said Samuelson. "But we're going to feature foods of the Mediterranean, which is what people associate me with. Serious food, with an emphasis on seafood, but in a less formal neighborhood atmosphere."
Entree prices will probably fall in the $15 to $22 range. A full liquor license is in the works.
Samuelson initially pursued the idea of a downtown Minneapolis location, but dropped the idea when the economy tanked after Sept. 11. He's been working on the Lyn-Lake deal since late last fall. J.P. will occupy the first floor of the Theis Brothers building.
"I drove past it all the time, until it finally hit me that this is where I belong," he said. "I like the idea of going in here. This is a neighborhood in transition, and I want to be a part of that. It feels like the right place at the right time."
Eating at Caribou Coffee now means more than a double latte with extra foam, thanks to a partnership with the New French Bakery and D'Amico & Sons. Both will be providing metro-area Caribous with an array of pastries, sandwiches and salads. The new menu -- which includes exclusive-to-Caribou items such as orange-caramel rolls and a sandwich of roasted peppers, provolone and chevre on whole-grain focaccia -- made their debut last week. Eighty-six metro-area Caribous will be carrying the New French's baked goods, and 72 will offer the D'Amico items.
Caribou is no stranger to locally made high-end provisions. Franklin Street Bakery, the bread-and-sweets division of Cuisine Concepts (the company that's also behind Goodfellow's, Tejas and Bar Abilene), had been a Caribou supplier through most of the late 1990s when the coffee company abruptly nixed the contract in 1999. Franklin Street sued, and in March 2000 a Hennepin County jury ordered Caribou to pay the bakery $900,000 (the rough equivalent of 356,000 lattes) in breach-of-contract damages.
The latest restaurant trend? Tasting menus. Rock Star in downtown Minneapolis is the latest to jump on board. Chef Steven Brown is offering five-course tasting menus on Saturday evenings. Prices range from $35 to $65 per person, depending upon the menu. Reservations required; call 612-333-9911.
Finally, another late-night dining option. The New Uptown Cafe (2821 Hennepin Av. S., Minneapolis, 612-874-0481) is now keeping weekend night-owl hours, serving its breakfast-and-burgers menu from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
-- Rick Nelson is at firstname.lastname@example.org .