Oh no, this is not really happening, is it? It is, it is! Guess who the three finalists are for the Lake Nokomis Concession? Two of the great chefs of Minneapolis in the current era, and longtime best friends, Doug Flicker (Piccolo,) and Steven Brown (Tilia), and the restaurateur who has taken the Great Recession as the opportunity to build a restaurant empire as green and LEED-certified as it is hip and beloved, owner of Café Barbette, Pat’s Tap, the Bryant Lake Bowl, Red Stag, and Bread & Pickle, the park concession at Lake Harriet, the one and only Kim Bartmann! Look at this PDF: You will die! Now I’ll tell you what I see when I look at it: Steven Brown’s Frank ‘n Stein’s Hot Dog House: One of those co-owners up top is Phillip Becht, longtime sous chef of Brown’s, longtime cook at the Modern, recent operations guru at the Birchwood, where he’s been getting high-volume experience. Brown has been exploring craft beers at Tilia—but can any of us imagine a world in which a chef driven local beer garden with a killer view could succeed? Kim Bartmann’s Pete’s Paddle House: Bartman’s done a solid job at Lake Harriet. I love the coffee, I adore the filtered water, I respect and applaud the locally-sourced, environmentally meaningful rest. Obviously she knows how to pull such a thing off. But we’ve seen Bread & Pickle, do we want more? Doug Flicker’s Sandcastles: Probably in the vein of Sea Salt, in that there are certain bits of fine cooking that are all about freshness, and high volume allows for fast ingredient turnover. Flicker was known for his unbelievably good pizzas and undeniable bar snacks at Auriga, still, this is the most brain-bending, in that he has been honing his craft over the smallest, and finest of plates these past few years, at Piccolo. Can the king of perfect sling burgers too? Next steps? Argue amongst yourselves, and then get ready to make your case at the public hearing in August. Then it all opens next spring, target of April 2013. Who do you want to win? Who do I want to win? I can’t even really tell, I’ve never seen such a win-win-win in a municipal decision. Aren’t we usually having debates about whether to spray burnt garbage over downtown or build a space station for billionaires? I’m going to be happy no matter which way this goes. Yippee, 2013 here we come!