Q: Do you know of any restaurants in the Twin Cities area that serve sweetbreads?
A: They’re a menu staple ($14) at 112 Eatery (112 N. 3rd St., Mpls., 612-343-7696, 112eatery.com), where executive chef Jonathan Seltvedt amusingly uses hot-and-spicy chicken wings as a point of inspiration. “We can’t put chicken wings on the menu, so I thought we’d wrap those familiar football-season flavors around sweetbreads,” he said. Breaded in gluten-free cornstarch, they’re quickly fried, tossed in a lemon curd sauce and served with a parsley-celery salad that’s finished with a Roquefort vinaigrette. Order them with the kitchen’s refreshing sweet-and-sour crab salad, and call it a night with the glorious butterscotch budino.
Q: Do you have any new takeout ideas?
A: Since takeout is all about convenience, and you don’t mention where you live, I’ll give you east- and west-metro suggestions. For the former, Mucci’s Italian (786 Randolph Av., St. Paul, 651-330-2245, muccisitalian.com) is stocking its freezer with a few of chef Chris Uhrich’s greatest hits, including his fabulous lasagna ($15 and $22) and tender meatballs doused in a lively arrabbiata sauce ($6 and $12). Then there are the pizzas ($10 and $11). Not only is Uhrich’s unique deep-fried dough a natural for the freeze-and-reheat genre, but all three varieties — mozzarella with red sauce, pepperoni or meatball — will debut in the frozen foods section of most Kowalski’s Markets this week.
For the latter, consider Sum Dem (735 E. 48th St., Mpls., 612-564-6300, sumdem.com). The tiny shop has a few tables, but the whole operation seems designed for takeout (and delivery), focusing on hearty, affordable Korean fare that stands up to travel: marinated and grilled beef and chicken, sweet-smoky ribs, well-stuffed tacos and tasty kimchi-filled, tamari-scented pancakes, all paired with familiar (and well-made) side dishes. Tuesday is the big deal, when a family of four can eat a major meal for $39.99.
Q: There have been so many closings this year. Are there any restaurants on the horizon that you’re looking forward to?
A: Chef-to-watch José Alarcon of Lyn 65 (6439 Lyndale Av. S., Richfield, 612-353-5501, lyn65.com) is the culinary driving force behind the ambitious Popol Vuh and its casual sibling Centro (712 15th Av. NE., Mpls., popolvuhmpls.com), which will offer different portals into the rich world of Mexican cooking. Current opening date: Jan. 2.
I can’t wait for Nov. 9, when chef Daniel del Prado (of Burch Steak and Bar La Grassa fame) will finish his makeover of the former Upton 43 space and open Martina (4312 Upton Av. S., Mpls., 612-922-9913, martinarestaurant.com), his wood-fired homage to his Argentinean and Italian heritage.
There’s more wood-fired cooking to come at the Hasty Tasty (701 W. Lake St., Mpls., thehastytastympls.com), which is taking over the Lake-and-Lyndale spot that was the longtime home of Falafel King (the Hasty Tasty name reaches back to a popular but long-gone Minneapolis sandwich shop). The chef is Chris Gerster, formerly of the Commodore Bar & Restaurant, and the target opening date is the last week of the month.
Q: Is there a trend that you’re liking these days?
A: I’m continuing to marvel at the growth and ingenuity of the food truck universe. Here’s a case in point: After spending four-plus years cooking in a shared space in a north Minneapolis commercial kitchen, Jean Hutar and Shari Brochhausen, operators of the first-rate Butcher Salt (butchersalt.com), have purchased their own building. They’re embarking on converting a former welding shop near Interstate 94 and Lowry Avenue N. in Minneapolis into their own commissary kitchen. The space is roomy enough to make available to other food truckers, a valuable asset that will continue the industry’s growth. In Phase Two of the project, Hutar will apply her short-order cooking skills to a small (10-seat) breakfast-and-lunch spot. Nice, right?
Q: We live in St. Paul. Is there a hidden gem we should know about?
A: Here’s one that’s new to me but should have been on my radar ages ago: Brake Bread (1174 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-756-1581, brakebread.com), where the focus is on gorgeous, naturally leavened breads. There are sweets, too, starting with glass jars filled with shamelessly buttery cookies (hello, pecan sables) for 50 cents, a price this cheapskate thought he’d never encounter in a bakery ever again. Another draw? The simple, sculptural and gently sweet Spinners, each tender bite teased with cardamom. A person could make a habit out of them, and fast.
Q: What else can we expect to see on the bakery front?
A: The Armatage neighborhood of Minneapolis is about to get Lucky Oven Bakery (5401 Penn Av. S., Mpls., luckyovenbakery.com). Salty Tart veteran Kirsty Dirk will be baking up breads, cakes and pastries (including savory brioche-style rolls), and her 34-seat cafe — including a counter with a view into the kitchen — will serve breakfast and lunch daily, under the guidance of chef Adam Beal. “It’s going to be comfort kind of food,” Dirk said. “Sandwiches, soups, salads, all with a focus on quality ingredients and scratch cooking.” Dirk’s impressive collection of Easy-Bake Ovens — 52 in all — will provide a memorable decorative element. “I love what I do, and that’s the oven that started it all,” she said. Dirk has a planned opening date of Nov. 15.
On the subject of the Salty Tart, chef/owner Michelle Gayer has an opening date for her St. Paul bakery/cafe location, located in the Market House Collaborative (289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, saltytart.com). It’s Nov. 13.
Here’s some promising Mall of America news: Baker Maddie Carlos will be featuring 20 flavors (caramel vanilla, s’more, pistachio) of freshly baked macarons at her opening-this-fall Macarons by Maddie Lu. Find it on the mall’s first floor, near Macy’s.
Q: How about some downtown Minneapolis Sunday brunch ideas?
A: I’d start at service-oriented Eastside (305 Washington Av. S., Mpls., 612-208-1638, eastsidempls.com), where I recently encountered what might possibly have been the most remarkable caramel roll I’ve ever had, and that’s saying something. (The Benedict built with flavorful, fork-tender shears of lamb pastrami wasn’t too shabby, either.) Or I’d head to Borough (730 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-354-3135, boroughmpls.com) for scrambled eggs tossed with crab, terrific house-made doughnuts, the restaurant’s justifiably famous burger (brunched up with pork belly and an egg) and vivacious cocktails from Parlour, the downstairs bar.
Can I coax you slightly outside downtown’s borders? The let’s-sleep-in crowd is covered at World Street Kitchen (2793 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-424-8855, eatwsk.com), where chef Sameh Wadi and his crew start cooking at 11 a.m. on both weekend mornings, offering memorable spins on French toast and chicken and waffles, plus an English muffin version of the bánh mì (complete with a fried egg, naturally). With the Southside, the kitchen’s famous rice bowls get a sharp a.m. makeover with hash browns, runny-yolk eggs and lardon-like chunks of caramelized lamb belly. Top price? $13.50.
Oh, and there’s the new Rebel Donut Bar (1226 2nd St. NE., Mpls., 651-234-0723, rebeldonutbar.com), where you can carb-load on creative variations (chocolate-espresso, pineapple-hibiscus) on the fabled mini doughnut, including gluten-free options. Doors open at 8 a.m. on weekends.
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