Rival House debuts in St. Paul

Finally, a reason for diners to step inside the urban fortress that is downtown St. Paul’s Town Square.

Rival House — the creation of Graves Hospitality (Bradstreet Craftshouse, Cosmos, Solera) — opened Monday, inside the complex’s DoubleTree by Hilton hotel (411 Minnesota St., www.rivalhousestpaul.com).

Chef Andy Vyskocil (a Bradstreet vet) is promising small plates with a Southern bent, along with pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven, a formula created in conjunction with Red Wagon Pizza Co. owner Peter Campbell. The bar’s beer focus means 24 brews on tap along with a list of beer cocktails. Lunch and dinner are served daily, and the restaurant is located a block from the Central station of the new Green Line light rail.

Green Line happy hour

Take another stop on the Green Line (exit at the East Bank station) and reward yourself with a hidden gem of a happy hour.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. through the end of August, the Campus Club (Coffman Union, 300 Washington Av. SE., Mpls., www.campusclubmn.org) at the University of Minnesota opens its doors to nonmembers, with a raft of $1-off specials from the bar and chef Beth Jones.

A major draw is the fourth-floor club’s open-air terrace, which offers spectacular Northrop Mall and downtown skyline views.

More Merchant details

When we reported in early April that Bloomington native Gavin Kaysen — the James Beard award-winning chef of New York City’s Cafe Boulud — was returning to his hometown and opening Merchant, the chef didn’t want to reveal the exact North Loop address.

The news is out. A few days ago, Kaysen posted a photo on his Instagram account showing him holding the keys to his new place, at 211 N. 1st St., across the street from the Bachelor Farmer.

The long, 6,000-square-foot space — originally a horse stable — is fronted by a garage door and features an 80-foot skylight.

“I worked hard and looked at a lot of spaces, and when I saw this space I just fell head over heels,” Kaysen said. “It’s over a hundred years old, and it has an incredible amount of character. It has a story, and I have a story. I didn’t want to be in a brand-new building. There’s nothing wrong with that, but from my perspective — and from where I’ve cooked in my life, all around the world — I’m used to being affiliated with a story.”

Other news: Bill Summerville, formerly of La Belle Vie, has signed on as the restaurant’s general manager. “It’s good to have him on board,” said Kaysen. “He’s so knowledgeable. It seems like a perfect fit to have him on the team.”

Rick Nelson