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Gray Duck Tavern opening in St. Paul with Minnesotan name, international flavors

 

 

A soon-to-open downtown St. Paul restaurant has a name most Minnesotans will recognize and maybe chuckle at:

Gray Duck Tavern.

Yes, that’s an homage to the childhood game Duck, Duck, Gray Duck (which of course in every other state of the union is called Duck, Duck, Goose).

From there, though, the playfulness veers in a decidedly un-Minnesotan direction.

Chef Don Gonzalez, who took a break from the restaurant scene to work in development at Taher, Inc. after seven years at the helm of Forepaugh’s in St. Paul, will run the kitchen at Gray Duck in the historic Lowry Building at 345 Wabasha Street (pictured above, courtesy of Gray Duck's Facebook page).

“I had kids and I was at the point where I wanted to see what having nights and weekends off would be like,” said Gonzalez of the restaurant break. “But I just missed cooking. It’s a beautiful thing. I missed that team environment.”

 A California native who has traveled the world, Gonzalez’ vision for the restaurant reflects those wide-ranging experiences, with a globally inspired comfort food menu in the making.

Expect a host of carved meats at dinner time such as prime rib, a Singapore broil and Cuban pork lechon with bitter orange and mojo sauce – which will be repurposed into sandwiches for lunch – as well as a lot of family-style plates and handmade pasta. There might be a coconut curry, Asian noodle bowls and falafel. A preview at Lowertown’s Green Lantern this week also featured samosas, Thai chicken wings and savory-sweet elote corn soup.

“America is a melting pot of flavors, techniques and people,” Gonzalez said. “So it would be a shame to be limited by just a single genre.

“It’s who I am, so it’s hard not to think in those terms,” he added. “I like to eat the world’s food, not just what’s in our neighborhood.”

Look for a late-May debut for the restaurant, which is a project of Madison Restaurant Group.

Madison Restaurant Group also owns Green Lantern, Public Kitchen + Bar, Handsome Hog, Ox Cart Ale House, Fitzgerald’s and Eagle Street Grille

High demand causes new St. Paul vegan restaurant to close temporarily

J. Selby’s, a new vegan restaurant in St. Paul, has closed temporarily due to a shortage of staff and food, according to a Facebook post.

The eatery opened on April 15.

“Our opening week has left us at a place where we are unable to provide you all, our customers, with the service, the food, and the experience you deserve,” the post read in part.

The restaurant, owned by Matt Clayton, shut its doors on Friday at 4 p.m. and has not given a timetable for re-opening.

J. Selby’s is, however, holding a meatless “burger” cookout in its parking lot across the street from the restaurant on Wednesday (April 26) from 4 to 7 p.m. Patrons are asked to bring their own buns – because, well, they’re low on buns.

“We are going to close…so we can better prepare ourselves for the large crowds we expect in the future,” the post continued. “We apologize deeply for this, but we want to make sure that the experience you get here at J. Selby’s is the one you deserve.”

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