Hard Rock making a Minnesota comeback

After a three-year hiatus, the Hard Rock Cafe is returning to the Twin Cities.

This time, instead of Block E in downtown Minneapolis, where it had a home from 2002 to 2011, the rock n’ roll memorabilia-soaked chain is opening a 400-seat outlet in Bloomington’s Mall of America.

The Hard Rock, which operates 140 restaurants, 19 hotels and nine casinos in 56 countries, is promising two bars, a retail outlet and a music stage with capacity for 1,200 guests, in a space located on the south side of Nickelodeon Universe on the mall’s first level. Opening is planned for this summer.

This isn’t the mall’s first brush with celebrity eatertaineries. Planet Hollywood had a 10-year run that ended in 2003, and the Gatlin Brothers operated a music club from 1992 to 1996.

Last month, 400 Bar owners announced plans for a new fourth-floor live-music venue and museum opening in June, followed by a pub-style restaurant operated by Merlins Rest (3601 E. Lake St., Mpls., www.merlinsrest.com).

Hopefully this news also heralds the return of Prince’s guitar and Christina Aguilera’s bustier. Both were once part of the memorabilia collection at the Minneapolis Hard Rock.


On Wisconsin’s Hwy. 35

This week’s thaw — thank you, Mother Nature — has positive implications for the dining-out circuit. Namely, the return of the Harbor View Cafe (314 1st St., Pepin, Wis., 1-715-442-3893, www.harborviewpepin.com).

The Lake Pepin institution is kicking off its 2014 season on Friday, serving lunch and dinner Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Elsewhere on Lake Pepin, chefs Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer begin service at their don’t-miss Chef Shack Bay City (6379 Main St., Bay City, Wis., 1-715-594-3060, www.chefshack.org) on April 4, following a schedule of Friday and Saturday dinner and all-day-Sunday brunch.

Baker Sandra Thielman is firing up the ovens at her ever-delightful Smiling Pelican Bakeshop (W3556 Hwy. 35, Maiden Rock, Wis., 1-715-448-3807) that same first weekend in April, and she’s also following a Friday-Saturday-Sunday format.

Look for a familiar face in her kitchen: Ruth Raich, she of the late, great Jenny Lind Cafe in Stockholm, Wis. (and later at the now-closed Smokey Row Cafe in Red Wing, Minn.), will be giving Thielman — possibly the hardest-working baker in the business — an assist.

Fans of the Homemade Cafe (809 3rd St., Pepin, Wis., 612-396-5804, www.thehomemadecafe.com), will have to wait until May for the restaurant’s seventh (and hopefully pie-filled) season.


Coming soon: Sushi

The former Lyn-Lake home of Tiger Sushi is about to get a new tenant: Kyoto Sushi (2841 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.). Meanwhile, the former home of True Thai is on its way to becoming Drunken Sake (2627 E. Franklin Av., Mpls.).


St. Patrick’s Day preview

Honey and Rye Bakehouse (4501 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, www.honey-and-rye.com) is closed Mondays, but that isn’t keeping baker/co-owner Anne Andrus from celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. She’s just observing it earlier than March 17.

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Andrus will be offering a non-traditional Irish soda bread (“We’ll be adding orange zest and currants for excitement,” she said), a chocolate-Baileys Irish Cream cheesecake and a chocolate-mint cake “with a splash of green,” she said with a laugh.