Photo by Katherine Harris
Tilia, the small Linden Hills gem, is one of the best restaurants in town and that fact owes a lot to it being the home of Steven Brown who formerly ran Porter & Frye, The Local (when it was fine dining), and Rock Star, and has been an important mentor to chefs who went on to open Travail, The Third Bird, and HauteDish. Which is why it's good news that Steven Brown just confirmed to me that he is indeed taking over the former Lynn on Bryant space to create a "buvette" (French tavern) that he'll call St. Genevieve.
Ah, come again? A buvette? “[It's] an American tavern, with French accents,” Brown says. “You mean like cheese curds made of brie?” I ask. And then he laughs and won't say anything more, except that St. Genevieve will be a casual sort of spot with French beer, French-influenced sandwiches (including open-faced tartines), and soup.
“Think typical French things” Brown says, “with our sensibility.” That didn’t clear things up too much for me so I peppered him with more questions about what sort of dishes might be on the menu and he was reluctant to say, which was not a surprise, as he is famous for his restaurant opening slogan ‘Under promise, over deliver.’ Which means your guess is as good as mine. There is a buvette named Buvette in New York which sells coq au vin at night, if this helps you speculate.
As for why it’s called St. Genevieve, no speculation needed, as I do have an answer for that. It's because St. Genevieve is the patron Saint of Paris, Brown’s daughter’s birthday happens to fall on St. Genevieve’s feast day, and Philip Becht, chef of Victor’s on Water and a longtime best pal of Brown’s, had a motorcycle for many years called St. Genevieve, which led a good and fast-going life until it died a noble death on the side of the road in Montana.
A few more details. The Lynn on Bryant had a small upstairs and a large basement kitchen; Brown has removed the upstairs cooking space to add seating, and when it does open they will serve weekend brunch, lunch, dinner, and various snacks. The interior is being designed by Heather Keena, who did Tilia, to add the same feeling that Tilia has of transport, both emotional and literal.
“I remain convinced that one of the keys to Tilia’s success is that there are emotional cues right when you walk in that this is a place to relax,” Brown says. “I’m hoping to get something similar going at St. Genevieve—it’s a place to come and celebrate a birthday with some good food, but also to come back with your friends and drink a couple beers and talk about the game.”
Estimated open? “When it’s done,” Brown says. Which after further pushing was revealed to be 2015. Hopefully spring. Maybe summer. You know how these things go. So, restaurant watchers, start watching! And let the speculation begin. Brown said there was an ice cream maker left behind in the restaurant . . . what flavor is a Steven Brown French tavern ice cream? Lardon? Caramelized leek? We'll know soon enough.
St. Genevieve, 5003 Bryant Ave. S., Mpls.