It’s been more than a successful Kickstarter campaign for Sean Sherman and Dana Thompson, who together run the Sioux Chef catering operation. Their effort to fund a start-up restaurant — the Sioux Chef: An Indigenous Kitchen — went far beyond their initial goal of $100,000, resulting in $148,728 raised. Although there were some gifts of more than $1,000, the flood of single-dollar donations made Thompson emotional.
That grass-roots effort brought more individual backers — 2,358 — to this restaurant fundraiser than national Kickstarter efforts have experienced before in this category, all enthused about the indigenous foods venture.
“It’s so humbling,” Thompson said. “I think the story really resonates with people of all demographics. It’s this really magical combination of food and artistry, and then the cultural preservation, reclaiming of food, health and nutrition aspects on top of that. I mean, it would be pretty weird to find somebody that thought that was a bad idea.”
The Sioux Chef: An Indigenous Kitchen will incorporate the near decade of research Sherman has done on indigenous food systems, which rely only on elements found in a place’s natural environment before colonial influences changed the landscape. Sherman, who prepares meals for pop-ups, catered events and food summits, plans to work with meats such as bison, smoked turkey, Red Lake walleye, rabbit and duck as they’re available, as well as a wide variety of plants — milkweed pods, cattails, crabapples and sunchokes, among them. He will not be using eggs, sugar, beef, pork and chicken.
“I think we’re going to try to stick with some of the proteins that have been big winners for us, but we’re really going to be focusing on the wild edibles above and beyond the proteins,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the earliest the restaurant could open would be six months from now, but it could take as long as a year. The pair is still searching for a 4,000-square-foot location that will allow space for a catering operation and an educational indigenous culinary center. And they want it to be near public transportation.
“It’s kind of a tricky Rubik’s Cube,” Thompson said, “but we’re just hoping the universe will kind of give us what we want.”
The New Black Dog
One of the original pillars in St. Paul’s Lowertown just got a major makeover, complete with a new look, a new menu and a full bar.
The 19-year-old Black Dog (308 Prince St., St. Paul, blackdogstpaul.com) in August reopened in full — it never shut down entirely — after seven months of renovations. The new space is twice as large after the cafe took over the adjacent spot in the Northern Warehouse building.
Chef David Perez (previously at Meritage) remade a menu that includes casual fare such as burgers, bahn mi sandwiches, salads and pizzas, as well as a new brunch service. Look for items such as roast beef egg and shakshuka (an Israeli egg and spicy tomato dish). Soon, Perez plans to roll out a limited menu of entrees that initially will include homemade pasta, roasted chicken and a vegetarian dish. Steak frites could be on deck. The Black Dog will still feature its popular lineup of live music.
“We were just bursting at the seams in our last kitchen,” said Sara Remke, who owns the Black Dog along with siblings Andrew and Stacy Remke. “So it’s very exciting to be more of what we always wanted to be.”
Cocktails and art
The American Swedish Institute (2600 Park Av. S., Mpls) will host an open-air gala on Friday night that invites eventgoers to enjoy craft cocktails, specialty snacks and live music and performances in the outdoor courtyard while they peruse the exhibitions and the historic Turnblad Mansion. Entry is $17 for ASI members and $20 for nonmembers, and beer, wine, cocktails (think watermelon basil shrubs and gin-rosemary concoctions) and food will be available for purchase.
The event’s menu, created by Fika, includes smoked salmon rillet flatbread, beet salad and apple brandy hand pies. Tickets are available at asimn.org.
Herbie’s on the Park, a neighborhood “social house” inspired by local hockey legend Herb Brooks, will open on Sept. 24 in the historic Minnesota Club (317 Washington St., St. Paul, herbiesonthepark.com). General manager Aaron Johnson (co-owner of the Strip Club in St. Paul) and chef Tim Kovacs (formerly the head chef of Basil’s at the Marquette Hotel in Minneapolis) have developed a menu of what they’re calling “upscale tavern fare” for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
The restaurant, which will sit adjacent to the Xcel Energy Center hockey arena and Rice Park, will offer a full bar as well.
“Herbie’s on the Park will be known as a gathering spot where locals and visitors will feel comfortable in team jerseys and jeans or suits and ties,” Johnson said.
If you’re looking for something free to do Saturday, head to Birchwood (3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., birchwoodcafe.com) for the cafe’s 21st birthday celebration from 4-8 p.m. The event will include free roasted corn, popcorn and cupcakes; beer and root beer floats will be available for purchase.
A St. Paul nod in the WSJ
The Wall Street Journal is giving the Twin Cities a little love this month, featuring chef Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant & Wine Bar (289 5th St. E., St. Paul, heartlandrestaurant.com) in its Slow Food Fast column for several weeks. The first recipe, for grilled pork with corn relish and tomato salad, ran last week. A WSJ subscription is necessary for online viewing, though it’s available in print.