Two years after opening Lyn 65, owner Ben Rients has a new restaurant up his sleeve.
The name? Well, there isn’t one yet. The space? It’s not finalized, so he isn’t telling.
But the concept – refined regional Mexican cuisine – is fresh and inspiring in the minds of Rients and Lyn 65 chef Jose Alarcon, who are collaborating on the project, and they’re inviting the public to take part in the restaurant’s development with a series of preview dinners.
The idea started with Alarcon, who is from the state of Morelos in Mexico. Alarcon wanted to create a restaurant that celebrated his native food, which is heavy on vegetables and is known for its small, tapas-like plates. Rients (pictured above), hearing Alarcon’s ideas, thought such an eatery would fill a niche locally.
And thus, the venture was born.
“[Alarcon] is one of the best people I’ve ever met and one of the best chefs I’ve ever met in my life,” Rients said. “I just thought it was such a great idea, so we’ve been working on it together and fleshing out the concepts.
“In town here, there’s really no place that’s giving [Mexican food] the justice for the ingredients and giving it the heightened and disciplined cooking and putting all the attention to detail that we’d like to do here.”
Rients and Alarcon hope to conceive a restaurant with two distinct parts: one, a hyper-refined fine dining experience and two, a casual “cantina” in a separate area of the building to delve into Mexican street foods. Both aspects will remain true to the specific Morelos region Alarcon is from.
“It’s really fresh, really clean flavors and I think it’s really going to translate to our seasons really well here too,” Rients said. “We’ve got our muse, we’ve got our parameters of what we want to explore and we’re going to explore it as much as we can.”
Rients – who also plans to brings a Lyn 65-like cocktail program to the new spot and put together “one of the best tequila selections in the nation” – has a location in an “up-and-coming” Minneapolis neighborhood in mind if all goes according to plan.
For now, it’s clear the project is still evolving, and could be a year or more away. But diners eager for a taste of what’s to come won’t have to wait.
As Rients and Alarcon develop their menu, they’ll also be staging a series of coursed dinners to explore flavors and specific dishes. The first of the “Pigeon Hole” dinners will be on Monday, Nov. 7 with seatings at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. There will be an optional drink pairing highlighting Mexican-inspired cocktails as well as wines and beers. Tickets for the five-course dinner are $45 per person.
“We thought it would be a perfect way of starting the dialogue for what this restaurant could be,” Rients said. “I think for this concept and this town, it’s the right time. So we’re really excited about it and we’re excited to share our vision.”