It seems that not everyone is opening a beer bar, like I feared. Chef Lisa Hanson is braving the downtown scene and opening her restaurant Mona sometime this spring.
Hanson has some serious cooking cred, her first job landed her in the New York Aquavit's kitchen which was followed by stints at Ilo, Four Seasons, and eventually L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon. Making her way to Minneapolis, she worked as chef du cuisine for Scott Pampuch at Corner Table.
But it's always been about opening her own place and once she found the right location she was sold. The Black Bamboo space in the lobby of the Accenture Tower has been in her sights for more than a year. After thorough negotiations, she signed the lease for the space last August and has been working with Jim Smart on design while waiting for Black Bamboo to vacate.
Mona will be a chef-driven restaurant with modern American food. While she will strive to use local producers when possible, Hanson isn't really going for the farm-to-table style of Corner Table, "honestly, it's food I want to eat. It will be fun and approachable, but driven by technique." An early draft of a menu shows smoked oysters, rabbit and foie gras with rhubarb bread pudding, chicken and waffles with a brown butter honey jus, and beef marrow with apple butter on raisin toast.
The space is small with just over 100 seats, and the vibe will have touches of old-world style with wrought iron sconces and dark walls. The front room will be centered on the full bar while the back dining will focus on the open kitchen. There will be free underground parking after 4 p.m. in the building's ramp, one of the reasons that made the space so attractive.
For now, Hanson is having fun going through the process of licensing and permitting and just itching to get the kitchen up and running. She's been bartending at Merlin's Rest, but plans to really focus on the business as they take over the space and start buildout in the coming days.