Tucked inside the eclectic elegance of Mr. Paul's Supper Club is a wall of painted canvas cutouts of circus sideshow performers. Taken straight from Barnum & Bailey's "Greatest Show on Earth" many years ago, it's a promise of unexpected fun and, possibly, something a little out of the ordinary.
It's a fitting display for the sprawling new restaurant inside Edina's Nolan Mains complex. Both the art and New Orleans inspiration come from chef/owner Tommy Begnaud's grandfather, the eponymous Mr. Paul. (When Begnaud was young he would spend sweltering summers visiting his grandfather in Louisiana, just outside the Big Easy, soaking in the culture and cuisine.
Begnaud has banded together with an impressive crew to create the wildly popular dining destination, including cocktail maestro Nick Kosevich and co-owners Courtney Briden, formerly of 4 Bells, who keeps the hospitality humming, and Carrie Erickson.
Location: 3917 B. Market St., Edina, 612-259-8614, mrpaulssupperclub.com.
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Tue.-Sun.
Good looks: The eclectic interior is filled with opulent bohemian vignettes designed by Wittkamper Studios. In one corner, a marabou feather light fixture fans over a large table; in the main dining room, a giant chandelier made of twigs provides ambient lighting; in a back bar, a wall gallery of more art from Mr. Paul's collection provides a lively backdrop. A rich jewel-toned color scheme of peacock teal and gold ties the whole mood together.
Beverages: Kosevich, who is credited as an early architect of the Twin Cities craft cocktail revolution, treats the bar as his playground, where the noise levels are boisterous and the drinks are built around New Orleans classics like the Sazerac ($14). Specialty drinks ($12-$15) include daring new creations like a pecan-infused gimlet and the Southern Jewel martini, served in a large goblet and garnished with a full bouquet of aromatics and wildflowers. While cocktails are the backbone of the beverage menu, there's also an extensive wine list ($10-$20 by the glass, $42-$140 for a bottle) and beer ($7) available.
Food: The menu is broken out by appetizers, soup/salad, steaks and chops, seafood and Creole club classics. The steakhouse options offer a top-shelf rib-eye ($52) and a pickles-and-popovers plate ($21), or diners can opt for a more affordable Cajun snack of boudin balls ($14) or gumbo ($14). A mounded steak ($19) dressed in bone marrow aioli, jalapeños and shallot, served under a dusting of shaved cheese that's reminiscent of a freshly shoveled snowbank, is one big, beefy piece of fancy toast.
Entrees are hearty, like a lobster-studded gnocchi with sizable hunks of meat and a sauce that's enhanced with a little white truffle ($37). A smash burger delivers all the welcome beefy flavor in two slices tucked in with oozy cheese ($17) and crinkle fries.
Desserts come courtesy of pastry chef Scott Shelby and include beignets under a mountain of powdered sugar ($10), a salty/sweet caramel apple tart ($12) and a cavalcade of chocolate textures and flavors ($10).
Next up: In addition to the supper club, Mr. Paul's has launched a lunchtime-only po'boy sandwich shop that's open Tue.-Sun. from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Still in the works is the Balloon Emporium, where Kosevich will have room to go full-on boozy Willy Wonka with tasting menus, spirit innovation and experimentation. Plus, there will be balloons. Look for that to open sometime this year.