You were wondering what was next for chef JD Fratzke after The Strip Club? The answer is: small French.
When Fratzke teamed up with Matty O'Reilly to develop the Red River Kitchen at City House menu, many of us knew it was just the beginning for those two (who have been friends for a long time, way back to opening Chino Latino days). In fact, Fratzke has officially signed on as Culinary Director for Republic and Red River Kitchen.
And that's not all—the two are launching a new restaurant together in the closed Ristorante Luci space at Cleveland and Randolph quite soon. Bar Brigade will be a 40ish seat French-inspired tavern. Don't think of it as stuffy upscale Euro food, they really want this to be a neighborhood gathering spot. Inspired by a trip to France, O'Reilly recalled, "I just remember being happy. The food was straightforward and delicious, and the wine was mostly affordable and reflective of the region. There weren’t linen tablecloths or servers in uniforms, no logo plates or really any stuffiness. It was much more laid back than what typically translates back to America. So, we use the word ‘tavern’ to reflect the feel and to communicate that it’ll be pretty approachable.”
Fratzke says that the menu will be casual and seasonal, made with the best local ingredients, and heavily vegetarian . . . about +75% vegetarian. The kitchen is small, so really they're looking at a mix of cheese plates, salads, small plates, and vegetable sides, plus a daily selection of oysters, with just a handful of entrees. Prices will range from $5 to $16, generally.
There will be a full bar, complete with cocktails designed by Dan Oskey of Tattersall and an all-French wine list. "We're really excited to offer some off-the-beaten-path bottles along with some incredible French wines we've been finding from small producers who are playing with organic and sustainable practices." Six taps will hold one beer, three ciders, an orange blossom tonic from Spruce Soda, and a French rosé. Yes, a neighborhood tavern with rosé on tap is a reason to have hope for the future.
Work is under way, and if you know anything about O'Reilly, he doesn't let grass grow under his feet. They're planning a bit of a refresher for the space with new paint and carpeting (think lots of plants and candles as simple decor) but the small and square footprint will stay the same. Bar Brigade will be open for dinner only, Tu.-Su, taking reservations for 50% of the space.
So as one small St. Paul neighborhood loses Fratzke, another one gains him. Lucky St. Paul indeed.