Art deco rebirth

The Commodore (79 N. Western Av., St. Paul, ­ is coming back to life, and soon. Hurrah.

The art deco beauty, once a playground to F. Scott Fitzgerald and other St. Paul luminaries, has been operated as a private events space since 1984.

But owner John Rupp (proprietor of nearby W.A. Frost & Co. and the University Club) is kicking off a new era for the landmark address, inaugurating a full-service restaurant, bar, lounge and private events space.

“The original bar has been carefully restored, and we’ve expanded design elements from the bar into the whole space,” said Rupp. “I think it looks more beautiful than it ever did. People are going to be surprised. It’s really fabulous.”

Rupp has recruited University Club chef Chris Gerster to run the kitchen. Gerster’s résumé includes gigs at Red Stag Supperclub in Minneapolis and top-rated Graze in Madison, Wis. For the Commodore, he’s promising a “classically driven menu” that will include renditions of dishes popular during the Commodore’s 1920s and 1930s heyday.

Bar manager Christa Robinson will feature cocktails culled from the same era, made from Midwest-produced spirits.

Opening date is Oct. 27.

Ultimate kitchen table

Birdie (3753 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls.) is now open.

For this intimate, three-nights-per-week (Tuesday-Thursday) tasting menu format, chef/owner Landon Schoenefeld and his staff of four (including Nighthawks pastry chef Tlanezi Guzman-Teipel) do all the cooking and the serving in a great-looking corner of the busy Nighthawks kitchen.

The restaurant operates on a single-seating (at 7:30 p.m.) schedule, accommodating up to 12 guests (expect a 2½- to three-hour meal) and requires purchasing a ticket in advance.

“You can buy one ticket, or two, or 12,” said Schoenefeld. The $100 cost covers a dozen-plus courses, along with gratuity, tax and a service fee.

Tickets are sold through the restaurant’s website (­, and are available six weeks in advance.

The seasonal menu changes frequently, and a wine pairing is available for an additional $50. Another draw: Schoenefeld has found space for a phonograph, and he’s spinning records.

“I’m doubling as a DJ,” he said. “That’s a longtime dream of mine.”

Oysters, unlimited

Oyster fans, take note: The Oceanaire Seafood Room (50 S. 6th St., Mpls., is hosting its third annual Oyster Bash on Oct. 11. From 3 to 9 p.m., diners can delve into all-you-can-eat oysters, along with wines and craft beers. Live music, too. Cost is $75 per person (or a $20 a la carte option), available at 612-333-2277 or at

Oct. 11 is also the date for the fifth-annual Oysterfest at Meritage (410 St. Peter St., St. Paul). Festivities include food, drink (a special oyster stout from Summit Brewing Co.), oyster-shucking contests and more, and run from 2 to 8 p.m. Tickets ($25 to $60) are available in advance only, at

Iowa’s walking dead, headed north

Fans of Des Moines-based Zombie Burger + Drink Lab ( will be pleased to hear that the popular burger destination is headed north to the Twin Cities. Well, for a day, anyway. The company’s food truck is making its first Minnesota appearance at — where else? — the popular Zombie Pub Crawl (­ on Oct. 17 in downtown Minneapolis.

Rick Nelson