If Kieran Folliard is opening a cafe, Irish poetry can’t be far away.
The restaurateur, whose name is stamped on Kieran’s Irish Pub (he founded it but no longer owns it or its sister restaurants, which include the Local), drew inspiration for his newest restaurant, Kieran’s Kitchen Northeast, from a poem by Seamus Heaney called “Digging.” The poem’s imagery of a squat pen and a spade became the logo for Folliard’s cafe, which opens Friday in the Food Building (117 14th Av. NE., Mpls., 612-354-2808, kieranskitchen.com).
But other than some verse and some whiskey, the new place is a departure from Folliard’s previous ventures, which rested heavily on his Irish origin. Kieran’s Kitchen Northeast is no pub — though you will find dark wood bars, ornate mirrors and other reused relics from Folliard’s pub-owning days, in the new restaurant’s horse stable-chic historic dining room.
Kieran’s Kitchen Northeast is an all-day spot for coffee and pastries, sandwiches and fresh pastas that highlight the products of the Food Building’s other tenants. (Folliard owns the building.) It will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Baker’s Field Flour & Bread make the croissants, doughnuts bagels and loaves for sale at the counter and used as the building block for sandwiches. Red Table Meat Co. and Alemar Cheese Co. fill those sandwiches with their salami and cured pork and Brie and fromage blanc, respectively. Honey comes from Skinny Jake’s Fat Honey, which has beehives on the roof of the building. Dozens of other ingredients come from local producers as well.
Executive chef Ian Gray’s daily trips to produce markets yields a crisp salad with croutons rendered in Red Table salami and other playful dishes that give veggies their due — like a meaty-yet-meatless smoked carrot sandwich on Baker’s Field Hundred Rye with harissa hummus and Alemar Brie. One housemade pasta dish pays homage to comfort food in the form of cream cheese dumplings, served over a mound of julienne vegetables.
“This is really about shining a light on craft foods,” Folliard said.
Kieran’s Kitchen Northeast replaces previous tenant the Draft Horse, which Folliard felt kept the rest of the Food Building’s activities at a distance.
“I asked them if they’d sell me their lease back,” Folliard said. “We need to have something that is focused just on the products in the building and how we can be expansive with them.”
He added, “There was a disconnect. There was a wall. We wanted people to come in and be in the building, see things and hang out.”
That wall was literal, and it’s gone. Guests of the restaurant can now walk from the restaurant into a newly connected hallway, with windows into the cheese-, bread- and cured meat-making stations.
“It’s all about where you shine the light,” Folliard said.