It’s been two years since St. Paul’s Snelling Avenue lost an institution, when the St. Clair Broiler closed.
And though that particular address in Mac-Groveland shows no signs of new life yet, a fresh lineup of businesses across the street is bringing a mini culinary revival to this strip of Snelling between St. Clair and Stanford avenues.
Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit, Monkey Temple Tandoori Grill and Alehouse, and Simplicitea are the new tenants, neighboring the two-year-old Rah’mn and Mac’s Fish Chips Strips.
The block is anchored by The Grove, a just-opened apartment building from which the new restaurants are hoping to find a future, loyal customer base — along with longtime neighborhood residents who stroll to the area for a bite.
“This neighborhood really needed this,” said James Munson, general manager of Monkey Temple, a British-style pub with an Indian menu. “It’s so nice to have a bar and grill in walking distance.”
Tara Coleman, chef/owner of Hot Hands (the name is a nod to how much heat a baker’s hands have been trained to withstand), lives down the street from the bakery she opened in September.
“I wanted to make a place I wanted to be, because it’s my home,” she said.
So did T.T. Bui, proprietor of Simplicitea, a boba tea cafe opening later this month.
“I’m in the neighborhood,” she said. “We are family.”
(These aren’t the only recent additions to the avenue. Further north at Snelling and Selby is John Kraus’s Rose Street Patisserie. FireBox Deli opened at Marshall Avenue, and there’s a new Dunkin’ at Hague Avenue.)
Decked out with a geometric wood wall made by her father-in-law, and slathered in "millennial pink" paint, Hot Hands is a bright breakfast-and-sweets spot from a former Patisserie 46 baker.
Coleman’s pie list spans from traditional (apple, pumpkin) to the indulgent cookie pie — essentially gooey dough baked into a crust. There’s also classic chicken pot pie.
“Pies are really comforting,” Coleman said. “They’re a great vessel to introduce fun new flavors and interesting textures.”
Her buttery biscuits are the canvas for jams or more elaborate fillings, notably avocado, frizzled shallots and a runny egg for a decadent breakfast sandwich that requires a fork and knife. “It’s a pile of food,” Coleman said.
Though she’s a French-trained pastry chef, she’s not doing croissants and danishes. “It’s an American-style bakery,” Coleman said.
Next door at Monkey Temple (which is owned by the family behind Minneapolis’ Himalayan Restaurant), the menu fuses Indian flavors with American and British bar food, by Nepalese chef Sumit Shrestha. Streaky bacon naan is a spin on the BLT. Chicken wings are flavored with biryani spice. Poutine is topped with black lentil daal.
“It’s approachable, elevated bar food,” Munson said.
Simplicitea, from the owner of St. Paul’s Cleveland Wok, will have boba tea and coffee, finger foods and croissants, served in a yellow and orange-splashed cafe designed to resemble an indoor patio. In addition to a sculpture of a giant cup of boba tea (for Instagram, naturally), there’s a large pergola taking up a corner of the space, like something from a Palm Beach courtyard.
“Winter is so long,” Bui said. “We want this to be a chatty place, for friends and family in the neighborhood.”
Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit, 272 Snelling Av., Suite 100, St. Paul, 651-300-1503, hothandspie.com
Monkey Temple Tandoori Grill and Alehouse, 272 Snelling Av., Suite 200, 651-330-1617, monkey-temple-tandoori-grill-and-alehouse.business.site
Simplicitea, 272 Snelling Av., St. Paul, no number