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Continued: Grain Stack: Minneapolis Institute of Arts gets restaurant makeover

  • Article by: RICK NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 16, 2014 - 1:21 PM

Kanson-Benanav oversees the company’s overall food-and-drink operations — which includes Parka in south Minneapolis, as well as the savory lunch items served at the Rustica mothership — while Lange manages the day-to-day cooking at Grain Stack. They’re part of a wave of young talent — both are 24 — that’s invigorating the Twin Cities dining scene. The MIA is fortunate to have them.

Stock and Badge’s other improvements include a superb first-floor Dogwood Coffee outlet, which has transformed the formerly sterile lobby into a lively gathering place for meticulously brewed beverages, local beers and, of course, a full phalanx of Rustica goodies.

Meanwhile, the notion of a kids’ cafe seems a bit half-baked, but the adorable Half Pint is anything but. The young (and the young at heart) will enjoy its fruity-and-fizzy house-made sodas, Izzy’s-made ice cream treats, a sly (and tasty) twist on the Lunchable and a handful of beyond-cute cookies. Don’t miss the crisp, gently lemony cutouts (I’d like to think that their gingerbread-man form is Rustica’s salute to the Doryphoros, the museum’s monumental Roman statue) or the supremely addictive ode to the Oreo.

Looks-wise, Half Pint could pass as a snack-bar prototype for Pottery Barn Kids. Dogwood Coffee is similarly stylish. Unfortunately, Grain Stack still bears a remarkable resemblance to its drab predecessor.

An easy overhaul could start with adios-ing the funky half-moon-shaped chairs. A remarkably durable chrome-and-pleather callback to the room’s Me Decade roots, they’re as uncomfortable now as they were then, and perhaps it’s time to bid them farewell.

Semi-dreadful as it is, the Grain Stack name is a logical shout-out to the museum’s “Grainstack, Sun in the Mist,” a Monet canvas of a wheat field shimmering in the rosy morning light.

The Impressionist masterpiece will never hang in the restaurant, but perhaps Grain Stack could follow the example of the coffee bar, a similarly all-white space that’s dominated by a blowup of a 1927 Japanese woodblock print. It’s a total eye-grabber, one that not-so-subtly celebrates the extraordinary Asian art collection housed on the floor above.

Imagine taking a lunchtime seat beneath a billboard-scaled Monet knockoff. It may be a tad literal — a grainstack in Grain Stack — but there are worse ways to spend an hour.


Follow Rick Nelson on Twitter: @RickNelsonStrib


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  • Harissa Beet Salad Roast Beets, Roast Cauliflower, Harissa, Beet Green Pesto, Almonds at Grain Stack.


    **1/2 • 612-870-3000

    LOCATION: 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls.

    HOURS: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tue.-Wed. and Fri., 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Thu., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Dogwood Coffee and Half Pint open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Wed. and Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m. -9 p.m. Thu., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.

    SERVICE: A sole Grain Stack cashier can result in ordering pile-ups, although the kitchen makes up for the wait by sending out food at an admirably quick pace. Staffers at all three venues are notably friendly and accommodating.

    PRICE RANGES: At Grain Stack, breads and soups $4-$6, entrees $9-13, desserts $1.75-$4.50. At Half Pint, nothing over $8.

    RECOMMENDED DISHES: Menu changes frequently, particularly during major events.

    BEVERAGE PROGRAM: A short list of affordable wines and beers. Kudos for making the museum a Coke- and Pepsi products-free zone.

    SPECIAL MENUS: Many vegetarian options and child-friendly choices.

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