Architectural rendering of Tullibee, to open in the fall/ Provided

Architectural rendering of Tullibee, to open in the fall/ Provided


The North Loop in Minneapolis welcomes another restaurant -- and star chef -- to the neighborhood.

The Hewing Hotel, in the historic Jackson Building (300 Washington Av. N., Mpls.) will be home to Tullibee when it opens later this fall, with executive chef Grae Nonas at the helm. 

Nonas comes with a significant pedigree. The native New Englander -- who once dreamed of becoming a musician -- was one of Food & Wine magazine's 2015 Best New Chefs.

He's headed here from Olamaie in Austin, Texas, where he was co-chef at an establishment that was nominated for Best New Restaurant in 2015 by the James Beard Foundation. Nonas also was nominated for Beard's Rising Star Chef award this year.

Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, Nonas has cooked at a one-Michelin-star restaurant in Tuscany and for Anne Burrell and Mario Batali in New York, among others. 

He and his family (wife Chiai Matsumoto and 14-month-old daughter Aya) will be moving into the North Loop neighborhood soon.

Nonas will shift gears from Southern fare at Olamaie to very Northern cooking -- as in Nordic -- at Tullibee, where the restaurant will take up half of the first floor of the 124-room hotel. A rooftop terrace will be open to the public and offer a more casual dining experience than the dining room. 

Nordic is familiar to Nonas given that he's of Norwegian descent. "A good portion of my upbringing was around this cuisine and philosophy," he said in an interview. As for the move to Minnesota from a much warmer spot, "I missed the seasons," he noted, and that included the difference in seasonal foods as well as the weather. As for his family, well, let's just say that winter will be a new experience. 

The restaurant name offers a tribute to the Minnesota fish, the tullibee (also known as a cisco), that lives in our northern cold waters, and which will appear on the menu, including a pickled version. 

The Minnesota connection doesn't end there. The hotel name is a nod to the hewing process in the logging industry (squaring off round logs), which reflects our state history. 

Breakfast and lunch will be more traditional (it's a hotel restaurant, after all), but look for more refined technique in the evening. "We're definitely in the experimenting phase," he said. "Our list of menu items is big and we're cutting it down." The emphasis will be on what comes from the woods and lakes, many of which will make use of the restaurant's open hearth and wood-burning oven.

He does have a few items he is likely to start on the menu: a dish with fermented cabbage with smoked bone broth; a meatball of aged duck with nuances of winter. And there's likely to be a pumpkin hung over the hearth to cook for a special dish he has in mind.

The hotel is housed within a structure from 1897 that once served as a farm implement showroom and warehouse. It's part of the portfolio of the Aparium Hotel Group of Chicago.

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