Counter Intelligence: Brown at home at Ivy

  • Updated: October 17, 2007 - 5:30 PM

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.

Opening soon

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."

Around town

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.

Rick Nelson

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