Celebrate the season
Crayfish, those tiny, semi-adorable and wonderfully sweet-tasting freshwater crustaceans, go by plenty of different names — yabbies in Australia, ecrevisses in France, and crawdads, crawfish, creekcrabs and mud bugs in the United States.
Whatever the name, they’ll be garnering plenty of attention during the next few weeks here in the Twin Cities, including these celebrate-the-crayfish events:
Aug. 3: The Bachelor Farmer (50 2nd Av. N., Mpls., www.thebachelorfarmer.com) is throwing Kraftskiva, its second-annual crayfish festival/street fair, from 5 to 10 p.m. Chef Paul Berglund and his kitchen crew will be preparing chilled crayfish, the restaurant’s awesome meatballs, sweet corn and snow cones, and the Marvel Bar will be pouring locally brewed beers and chilled aquavit. Live music, too, including appearances by Joey Ryan & the Inks and the Cloak Ox. Admission $4, sold at the door.
Aug. 10: The following week, the crayfish party moves to a second North Loop location: Crayfest, at the Smack Shack (603 Washington Av. N., Mpls., www.smack-shack.org). From noon to 8 p.m., the lobster-centric restaurant will line up 20 (60-gallon) crayfish boils down the center of 6th Avenue N. Other menu items will include boiled new potatoes, sweet corn and coleslaw, along with beer and fruity rum Hurricane cocktails. Live music, too, along with, yes, a crayfish eating contest. Tickets $40, available at www.tix.com.
Aug. 16: Naturally, Ikea (8000 Ikea Way, Bloomington, www.ikea.com) will be part of the crayfish act. The Swedish retailer is offering its annual all-you-can-eat crayfish buffet, served from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Cost is $9.99 to $12 for adults, $2.49 to $4.99 for children; advanced tickets (recommended) are on sale now at the store.
Aug. 17: One of the Twin Cities’ most enchanting outdoor dining venues — the courtyard at the American Swedish Institute (2600 Park Av. S., Mpls., www.asimn.org) — is playing host to another crayfish-o-rama: a traditional Swedish crayfish dinner (6:30 to 10 p.m.). Drinking songs (and a shot of aquavit) included. Cost is $50 for ASI members, $60 for nonmembers; reservations by Aug. 8 at 612-871-4907.
An ideal situation
The Ideal Diner (1314 Central Av. NE., Mpls., 612-789-7630), which has been feeding northeast Minneapolis since 1949, is back after a brief closing. If the friendly faces behind the counter look familiar, they should.
New owner Kim Robinson worked at the 14-seat landmark for 23 years, alongside her mother, Donna Stevens, a 40-plus-year veteran. Both left in 2008, and when Robinson heard the restaurant was up for sale this past spring, she jumped at it.
Stevens came out of retirement to work the counter, and Robinson is at the stove, putting her own spin on short-order breakfast and lunch fare (it’s open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily), including making her own corned beef for Reubens, Rachels and hash.
She has also fixed the distinctive neon sign and spruced up the dining room, although regulars, not to worry: The well-worn pink laminate countertop remains.
“She looks good,” said Robinson of her old/new domain. “She’s 64 years old, and she’s ready for another 50.”