Restaurant notes: Libertine, Tour de France, cooking lessons

  • Updated: July 16, 2014 - 2:31 PM
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Wade Gregory teaches a Lunch Counter class at Cooks of Crocus Hill in Stillwater; the concept will now be available at the Edina location through the rest of the summer.

Photo: Courtney Perry • Special to the Star Tribune,

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Libertine debuts in Calhoun Square

That was fast: After an eight-week renovation, the former Uptown Cafeteria is now Libertine (3001 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., www.libertinempls.com).

The restaurant and bar remains under the same ownership — Parasole Restaurant Holdings — but has been revamped by La Belle Vie chef Tim McKee, in his capacity as a Parasole partner and the company’s vice president of culinary direction.

“It’s 100 percent my idea, as if I’m opening a restaurant, but with someone else’s money,” McKee told me in May.

The dinner-only restaurant (for now, anyway; brunch is on the way) specializes in yesteryear cuts of beef, pork and lamb, all at prices below the average steakhouse tab (the top price, $24, is for a pair of side-by-side lamb porterhouses, with the belly in between).

There are also oysters — raw, charbroiled and fried — along with a handful of small plates (fried baby artichokes with ham and lemon, steak tartare topped with a quail egg) and a half-dozen salads (potato-smoked trout, Moroccan-style tomato-burrata). More good news: the kitchen cooks to midnight daily.

On the Tour

Another Parasole property, Salut Bar Americain (5034 France Av., Edina, and 917 Grand Av., St. Paul, www.salutbaramericain.com) is paying homage to the Tour de France by offering a well-garnished cheese platter ($15) featuring four selections, all culled from regions along the race’s route. The promotion runs through July 27.

Meanwhile, the Tour de France-fest continues at Vincent (1100 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., www.vincenta restaurant.com), where chef/owner Vincent Francoual is offering limited-edition burgers tied to the region where the race is taking place, including one topped with Gruyère, crispy scalloped potatoes and black olive ratatouille (through July 19) and another decked out with a duck-mushroom ragoût, cantal cheese and tomato crisps (from July 24 to 26).

And Birchwood Cafe (3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., www. birchwoodcafe.com) is all over the Tour with a special turkey burger topped with a blue cheese-walnut spread, garlic scape aïoli and cured ham from Red Table Meat Co. The chocolate éclairs are also pretty special.

50th-and-France lunch

The twofer lunch experience at the Stillwater branch of Cooks of Crocus Hill — an hourlong meal disguised as a mini-cooking class — is coming to the company’s Edina location (3925 W. 50th St.). Walk away with a tasty noon-hour meal, a few new recipes (they change weekly) and a long list of kitchen tips.

Dates are July 24 and 31 and Aug. 1, 8, 22 and 29. Cost is $18 and reservations (www.cooks­ofcrocushill.com) are recommended but not required.

(Cup)cake and ice cream

The sign on the door says A Cupcake Social (3800 28th Av. S., Mpls., www.acup cakesocial.com), but co-owners Suzette Herr and Jessica Stone take time away from their ovens to keep eight varieties of ice cream in their scoop case.

The shop, a brick-and-mortar extension of their three-year-old food truck, features eight flavors: vanilla, salted caramel and some variation on chocolate are always available, and the other berths change frequently, with new options coming in once or twice a week until they sell out.

For example, this week’s roster includes lemon-strawberry swirl, espresso chip, Key lime pie and a cream base blended with dark cherries infused with Minnesota-made ale.

The duo started making ice cream when they decided to create a sundae using crumbled cupcakes.

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