Stepchld (24 University Av. NE., Mpls., stepchld.com) has quietly opened in northeast Minneapolis.
There's a story behind that name, and yes, you read correctly, there's no "i" in this Stepchld.
"All of the menu items are basically a step removed from their origin," said brand director Kamal Minneapple. "For example, we're doing birria for lunch, which is usually a Mexican dish but ours uses berbere spices from East Africa. We're trying to think outside the box. We want to surprise the taste buds, to give you something that you know but veer a little to the left or the right."
Owners Nabil Ghebre and Hamza Muridi are the team behind the GoldRoom Restaurant & Lounge (528 S. Hennepin Av., Mpls.). The chef, Jessica Cak, is a Barbette veteran, and general manager Jessi Larum comes from Penny's Coffee.
"We have a power team," said Minneapple. He should know: his family is behind Nashville Coop (300 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul, nashvillecoop.com), the fried chicken food truck-turned-restaurant that has been a runaway hit during the pandemic.
"We got lucky, and it was the right concept at the right time," Minneapple said of Nashville Coop. "It gave me the confidence to wonder, 'What else could we do?' When my friends reached out and said, 'Do you have another concept?' I said, 'As a matter of fact, I do.' "
Stepchld — and its adjoining speakeasy-like craft cocktail bar Hyde — has taken over the former JL Beers space.
"Northeast deserved something that was going to be a bit more eccentric, something that is unique to this neighborhood alone," said Minneapple. "This neighborhood has grown significantly, and there are a lot of exciting buildings going up. We're trying to think ahead for what the neighborhood is going to be in the next three to five years."
Cak's $10-and-under breakfast items include scrambled eggs on a potato bun, biscuits and gravy with roasted mushrooms and overnight oatmeal boosted with cherries and blueberries. Lunch ($12 to $15) features fried chicken with pickled cabbage on a buttermilk biscuit and a rice noodle salad with a tea leaf vinaigrette. Dinner ranges from lamb meatballs ($13) to tamarind- and ginger-infused short ribs with collard greens ($40).
The dining room features an overhead garden in what Minneapple describes as "the only living ceiling in the Midwest."
"It's a self-sustaining hydroponic aeroponic system," he said. "It changes over time. We're excited for people to come in and then come back a month later and say, 'Wow, it looks different.' "
Stepchld is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For now, Hyde is open 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.