Harriet Brasserie takes Cafe Twenty Eight spot

The historic firehouse space that once housed Cafe Twenty Eight didn't stay empty for long. Five months after it closed, its replacement, the Harriet Brasserie (2724 W. 43rd St., Mpls., www.harrietbrasserie. com) started serving a breakfast-lunch hybrid this week, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner will be arriving later this month, when the wine and beer license materializes.

Alain Lenne, the hard-working guy with the French accent working the counter at La Belle Crêpe (825 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., www.labellecrepe.com) is one of the forces behind the new Linden Hills restaurant.

"I look around and think, 'How did I manage to get here?'" he said with a laugh. "That little La Belle Crepe has brought me a lot of luck. Everyone wanted this spot, it's such a great location, in such a great neighborhood."

The other key player is chef Fernando Silvo, a longtime vet of the French Meadow Bakery & Cafe (2610 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., www.frenchmeadowcafe.com).

Silvo's opening brunch menu (top price: $13) includes items such as crawfish with Cheddar grits and poached eggs, a crab cake Benedict, a grass-fed beef burger topped with bacon and truffle-infused aioli, a tofu hash with shishito peppers and watercress, and a chilled pea soup garnished with crème fraîche and smoked trout caviar.

Silvo cultivates several acres of vegetables in Lakeville, and is already incorporating radishes, arugula and other early-season crops into his menu.

"When I get too crazy, I go down there and spend six or seven hours doing manual labor," he said. "It's good for me, and my mind. Besides, it's great to be able to say, 'Look, I harvested these two hours ago, let's cook them and see how they taste.'"


Up and running

Meanwhile, on the other side of Lake Harriet, George & the Dragon (813 W. 50th St., Mpls., www.ganddpub.com) is now open. Co-owners and spouses Fred and Stacy Navarro -- both veterans of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant conglomerate -- plan to start out by offering a British pub-inspired lunch and dinner service Monday through Saturday. Sunday brunch will arrive on May 20.

"We don't want our first brunch to be on Mother's Day," said Fred Navarro with a laugh.

ALSO OPEN: Angel Food Bakery + Coffee Bar, the sweets-and-breads side of Hell's Kitchen (80 S. 9th St., Mpls., www.hellskitcheninc.com).


And the winners are . . .

Best wishes to Minnesota's nominees at this weekend's 25th annual James Beard Awards in New York City, the "Oscars of the food world."

At Friday evening's media awards, Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift of American Public Media's "The Splendid Table" are in the General Cooking book category for their "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends," and the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern" is in the "Television Program, On Location" category.

At Monday evening's restaurant and chef awards, Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market (289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, www.heartlandrestaurant.com) is up for Best Chef: Midwest, sharing the category with two Wisconsinites -- Justin Aprahamian of Sanford in Milwaukee and Tory Miller at L'Etoile in Madison -- and two Missourians -- Colby Garrelts of Bluestem in Kansas City and Gerard Craft of Niche in St. Louis.