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First Bite: District Fresh Kitchen + Bar
By: Stephanie March | Posted: 04/23/2014
A lot is hopping over in lake town! The old Biella space in Excelsior has been dark for some time, but recently papers on the window hinted at its future potential.
The sign announced the coming of Coalition: “Chef-driven, locally sourced, passionately prepared, fresh flavorful.” There's not that much more info out there, but after a bit of digging I found out that the project is the work of Eli Wollenzien, who used to be the corporate chef at Crave before going over to the Blue Plate Group.
After being immersed in big-company kitchens for years, Coalition will be his first solo venture. “I can’t wait to be in a new, more intimate setting, where I can enjoy getting to know our guests, working hands-on in the kitchen, and being involved in the community.”
The new spot will have an eclectic, seasonal American menu that uses local ingredients when possible, including grass-fed steaks, sustainably sourced fish and oysters, plus high-quality products from purveyors such as Peterson Limousin Beef, Dragsmith Farms, and Moo Oink Cluck among others. There will be a full bar with craft cocktails, which is new for Excelsior, plus eight tap beer lines Wollenzien plans to dedicate to all local brands. He also plans a large wine selection with many by-the-glass options.
As the interior is being worked on, they’ve removed the plaster from the walls to expose the original red brick and plan to give a buffing to the original tin ceiling and wood floors. The eventual vibe will be casual and rustic, but sophisticated.
If all goes according to plan, they should be open by June. The space is down the block from the also-coming-soon Victor’s (currently under construction) and around the corner from the almost-ready new tap room for Excelsior Brewing.
Stephanie March is Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s food and dining editor. See bio
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