It's about time - for a walk of fame and for some romantic dining

  • Article by: BARBARA FLANAGAN
  • Updated: March 19, 2008 - 2:21 PM

The Flanagan Memo - Re: Time for a "good grief!" and plus the romantic month.

Yes, I said good grief because there is a chance that another one of my constant "nags" has connected.

Linda and Brian Gensmer of Eden Prairie tell me that they are working on the idea of honoring famous Minnesota show business names on downtown Hennepin Avenue. It would be called the Minnesota Proud - Walk of Fame, and the thought is to select two or three stars a year to have their names placed in the Hennepin sidewalks.

It all began with Robert Roessel, a Minnesotan who has spent the past few years as executive of a film festival in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Last year, he called me to say he had read a column in which I was, as usual, nagging about saluting our stars. He said he wanted to take on the task of creating the Walk of Fame.

Somehow, he and the Gensmers got together, and now it is moving.

Roessel will work with Tom Hoch, president and CEO of the Hennepin Theatre Trust -- the people who revived the State, Orpheum and Pantages -- to bring it about. Roessel will start by raising money, of course.

He sees the event as a festival of film, but also of Broadway and the music industry. Well, great. I nominate the late Judy Garland and the very alive Bob Dylan for the first two names on the street.

Linda Gensmer said they are definite possibilities. She added that the hope is for a jury of people who enjoy show business to pick the annual winners.

The current vision is to place names on Hennepin from 5th to 10th Streets. For each choice, Roessel would like to have the stars attend to dedicate their names or, as in Garland's case, have a member of her family participate. How about Liza Minnelli? I am told it is possible.

Who else? Who's that?

There are so many stars on my list, including the Andrews Sisters and Edith Day.

Edith who? Ah, I knew you would ask.

Back after World War I, in the Broadway show, "Irene," Edith Day -- originally of Minneapolis, kids -- introduced the tune "Alice Blue Gown." It was a big hit.

So I will definitely vote for Miss Day. And no, I wasn't there. Good grief!

Aren't they romantic?

It is February, the romantic month, right? I have always thought so and not just because of Valentine's Day on Feb. 14.

No, February is usually cold, but cozy, and that's good.

As a result, it creates warm and comfy restaurants such as the Chateau de Paris. Do you remember it?

It was the idea of Morrie Levy, who was head of the Dyckman Hotel on 6th Street downtown. He was and still is a Francophile. So to encourage business, he imported a French -- or was he Belgian? -- chef and set to work. The food was totally superb, of course, but the atmosphere was perfect. It was so-o-o romantic.

So I have been thinking about what is romantic nowadays. There are so many restaurants around now, and I haven't eaten at more than half of them, but here goes:

I like Muffuletta on Como Avenue, in St. Paul. It is especially wonderful in summer with its front porch -- a good spot to mutter sweet nothings while dining on good somethings.

Cafe Barbette on Lake Street and Irving Avenue S., is suitably illuminated, meaning not too much light, and it seems very European and isn't that always romantic.

D'Amico Cucina in Butler Square is a shoo-in for romance and great food. And duplex on 25th and Hennepin has its romantic corners.

Curiously, I will also pick the Oak Grill in Macy's, better known as Dayton's Oak Grill, particularly, I suppose, for lunch-hour romance. The popovers are romance plus, really.

Finally, and I have not eaten there yet, but Heidi's at 819 W. 50th St., looks good. Not only does everyone, critics too, say the food is spectacular, but chef Stewart Woodman looks, from his pictures, to be greatly in love with his wife, pastry chef Heidi Woodman. Now that's romance.

As for restaurants elsewhere, well, San Francisco is probably our most romantic city. And I have been told that Café Jacqueline is loaded with romance because of its soufflés. Yes, a soufflé can be romantic if it doesn't fall. Go and try one.

Barbara Flanagan, longtime columnist for the Star Tribune, writes on the first Monday of each month. Her interests are the metropolitan area -- what's good and what's bad -- and the fascinating people who live here. She can be contacted at barb-flanagan@comcast.net.

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