Counter intelligence: Now open, in both downtowns

  • Updated: November 21, 2012 - 2:15 PM

Also: A little bit of France on Grand, and eating at MOA on Black Friday.

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Union's rooftop patio offers a full kitchen and bar.

Photo: Bre McGee, Special to the Star Tribune

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It has been a big week for openings.

Union (731 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. www.unionmpls.com), the project that has transformed the former Shinders building in downtown Minneapolis, is now serving weekday lunch and dinner daily on its dramatic, glass-covered rooftop, and dinner daily in its first-floor dining room and bar.

The project has quite a pedigree: Ownership is Kaskaid Hospitality (Crave), the kitchen is being run by chef Jim Christiansen (Il Gatto, La Belle Vie) and the bar menu has been created by mixmaster Johnny Michaels (La Belle Vie).

In St. Paul, Louis Ristorante & Bar (211 W. 7th St., St. Paul, www.cossettas.com), part of the ambitious $10 million expansion of the landmark Cossetta, is now serving dinner daily and cooking to midnight.

Louis (pronounced Loo-eez), located on the building's third floor, is being billed as a traditional full-service Italian restaurant, with a warm-weather outdoor rooftop bar.

The complex's casual Eatery & Pizzeria is now open, and mid-December is the target date for launch of the expanded Italian market. The project's fourth and last phase, a pastry and gelato shop, is set to open in January.

Coming next week: World Street Kitchen (2743 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., www.eatwsk.com), the permanent version of the food truck of the same name, operated by Sameh Wadi and Saed Wadi, co-owners of Saffron Restaurant & Lounge.

"We were hoping to open this week, but we're still waiting for a few things to show up that are really important for opening a restaurant," said Sameh Wadi. "You know, like chairs."

When the doors open Monday -- or possibly Tuesday -- the restaurant will serve lunch and dinner daily.

France on Grand

Pastry chef Arnaud de Rambures has thrown down the gauntlet in St. Paul, opening a well-appointed branch of his Chez Arnaud (1085 Grand Av., St. Paul, www.myfrenchbakery.net) across the street from Wuollet Bakery. But while the latter is a well-documented source for all-American baked goods, De Rambures fills his cases with a range of carefully crafted French breads and tarts, eclairs, cakes and cookies, an eye-catching bounty familiar to those who patronize his outposts in Maple Grove and White Bear Lake.

Black Friday notes

The Mall of America is girding for an expected 200,000 shoppers on Black Friday. When the doors open at midnight, more than 150 stores will be up and running, including restaurants such as Cupcake, Ruby Tuesday and Masu Sushi & Robata (which opens at 10 p.m. Thursday and is offering half-price wines by the bottle and $3 steamed buns, filled with pork belly or bacon, eggs and cheese).

Stay caffeinated at Caribou Coffee and Starbucks. Oh, and say hello to Pinkberry, the new-to-Minnesota frozen yogurt pioneer that opened this week on the first floor of Macy's.

Friday morning megamall shoppers, take note: Starting at 8 a.m., Tucci Benucch will be preparing $5 pizzas and $3 meatballs and Mimosas.

OK, one more Black Friday deal, this one outside the Mall of America. Take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, drop by Sonic (five Twin Cities locations, www.sonicdrivein.com) after 6 a.m. and enjoy half-price breakfast burritos (seven varieties) all day.

RICK NELSON

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