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First Bite: District Fresh Kitchen + Bar
By: Stephanie March | Posted: 12/12/2013
Well, some lucky ducks have already snacked at the Chef Shack Ranch, via friends and family nights, but tonight is the first time the new joint will be open to the public.
Though it is still technically in soft-opening, Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer's new outpost on 31st and E. Franklin will open the doors tonight from 5-10pm and run service through the weekend. They're still working on their adult beverage license, and the service style is still rolling out, but the space is decked, the kitchen is cooking, and it smells like brisket!
There's a whole new ranch vibe to the old spot that has been many things, including a curry house and an Ethiopian restaurant. Walls are hung with found objects that the ladies have scoured the country for, as well as pieces from Summer's family barn, the doors of which clad the front bar. It's a small space and very casual-cool, if you've been to their Bay City shop you'll get it.
The menu for tonight is also relaxed and casual. Delivering on the promise of a "meat hut", there's a Big Boy Ranch Plate with pulled pork, house-smoked brisket, baked beans, slaw, sausages, potato salad among other things. The tray feeds two and runs $25 for whole and $15 for a half tray. The Ranch Burger with fries is their famous griddled truck burger piled with the goods and an egg on a Salty Tart brioche bun. And new to their repertoire are some whole Kadejan Farms wings that are lightly tempura fried with a side of sweet and spicy sauce.
But this isn't just for meat lovers, Summer pointed out that there will be a lighter side to the menu for veg lovers. Right now she's super proud of the Colt 45 Indian curry which plays creamy coconut with almond, tomato, and veggies to a create a warm and satisfying dish that is vegan and gluten-free. There's also a white salad of shaved celeriac, cauliflower, fennel, and their cult-status pickled ramp dressing. And there's much to look forward to as this joint evolves: they're playing with a noodle hot-pot recipe, there's talk of a walk-up window, and perhaps, some Karaoke nights (squeeee!).
Don't bother calling, it's first come, first serve. Tonight when you walk in, you'll be guided to the counter/bar for ordering from the menu board (while they work with their new servers), and more importantly if the seats are all taken, you can get it all as takeout. Lucky Seward.
Stephanie March is Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s food and dining editor. See bio
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