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BREAKING: Shane Oporto IN as Chef de Cuisine for La Belle Vie
BRUNCH BEAT: Nicollet Diner
By: | Posted: 05/05/2008
This weekend found me breaking one of my cardinal rules: Never shop at Costco on Saturday. And yet, with a teenage dinner party looming, it seemed my only choice. The key is to be there early so that I don't have to fight as many sample snackers, who snack on food samples while leaving their cart to block the entire aisle. Heaven forbid you should say "Excuse me, I just need to get by" and lay a finger on the handle of said blockade because the sample snackers will turn and bite you. Swear to God, they will bite you. But I digress.
After such an early adventure, and since we were in the area, I thought that the teens and I would sneak over to 3 Squares just to see if they were open to the public yet. Technically, they weren't; they were having a training party. But luck was on our side, and they offered us a seat at the bar and a free meal to give the bartenders some practice.
The gang behind 3 Squares is Blue Plate Restaurant Company, the one who mastered the urban diner concept with Highand Grill, Edina Grill, Longfellow Grill, and the burger and beer lovin' Groveland Tap. This looks to be its first ex-urban joint and definitely has a softer, less edgy feel to it.
We couldn't order the full menu but were happy with the amount of choices offered. I am not ashamed to say that we had crispy wings as an appetizer at 10:30 a.m. because damn, they were good. I followed with the breakfast tostada, the teens with French toast and pancakes. Peeking at the regular menu, it looks much like the others in the diner collection.
I have to say, being a person who has opened a ton of restaurants, that the Blue Plate gang is doing it right. Our sweet and chatty bartender told us that throughout the last two weeks of training, she and the crew had tasted everything on the menu and that they were in the middle of four full days of practice parties. I saw hands-on management everywhere, and as we were headed out the door, no less than four people said "Thanks" and "Come again!" Too many restaurants think training is a bothersome expense, never quite grasping how expensive it can be in the long run.
3 Squares opens today (May 5), and I'm thinking of manufacturing a need for a Costco run just so I can reward myself with some mac and cheese.
12690 Arbor Lakes Pkwy., Maple Grove, 763-425-3330
Stephanie March is Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s food and dining editor. See bio
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