Brown at home at Ivy
Doesn't the Hotel Ivy + Residence, the swank hotel-condo project nearing completion in and around the historic Ivy Tower in downtown Minneapolis, seem like a tailor-made venue for chef Steven Brown (at right)?
From the looks of it, the project's restaurant, Porter & Frye (201 S. 11th St.), seems closer in spirit to Brown's adventurous culinary style -- illustrated to perfection at the former Levain and Rock Star -- than his last gig, Harry's Food & Cocktails (500 Washington Av. S., Minneapolis), where he put his one-of-a-kind spin on bar-food favorites.
He's calling P&F's menu "modern Americana," and a sample menu includes dishes along the lines of duck with an orange-red onion jam and corn meal porridge, suckling pig with parsnip pudding, and a mushroom-potato terrine with a black truffle fondue. There's also a long list of familiar-with-a-twist hotel-style dishes such as tuna sliders, crab nachos, grilled pizzas and a fancy grilled cheese sandwich.
The restaurant's brain trust is being boosted by consultations with chef Stewart Woodman, who preceded Brown at Levain. (Woodman is a busy guy; any minute now, he's also opening Heidi's Minneapolis at 819 W. 50th St.) P&F will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Brown will also supervise the hotel's banquet and room-service operations. Ballpark opening date? Between mid-December and mid-January.
Aleen Okey is an industrious role model for us all.
"I'm over 65 and I'm not ready to retire," she said. So she left her job of 11 years -- running the dining operations of a suburban retirement home -- and is channeling her energy into opening a breakfast-and-lunch restaurant in downtown Minneapolis.
When the Checkered Apron Cafe (10. S. 5th St.) opens in early November -- taking over a short-lived pizzeria in the Lumber Exchange Building -- it will specialize in home-style cooking: cinnamon rolls, quiche and egg bakes at breakfast and sandwiches, soups and blue-plate standards such as spaghetti and meatballs and meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy at lunch. "There's enough fast food in downtown Minneapolis," Okey said. "I'm not a chef, but I'm a darned good cook."
If you're a fan of "America's Test Kitchen" -- the PBS series hosted by the whiz kids behind Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country magazines and one of television's more practical, user-friendly cooking shows -- then you'll want to stop by Barnes & Noble at the Galleria in Edina (3225 W. 69th St.) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Christopher Kimball, the show's bespectacled and bow-tied host, will be in the house, chatting and signing copies of his latest book, "America's Best Lost Recipes."
Check this out: On Oct. 26, chef Matthew Fogarty of Napa Valley Grille (Mall of America, Bloomington) is hosting a special dinner featuring a cider-roasted stuffed suckling pig, roast leg of lamb and paella for a crowd, along with 50 wine selections. Tickets are $65; call 952-858-9934.
Calling all women: Let the Oceanaire Seafood Room (1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis) bring out the oyster lover in you tonight from 6 to 9 p.m., with a female-only evening of tastings, wine pairings, classic cocktails and appetizers. Tickets are $30; call 612-333-2277.
Copper Bleu in Lakeville has closed.