I got a sneak peek tour of what the Dayton boys have been cooking up in the crusty old building on 1st Street and 2nd Avenue in the North Loop. The ambitious project called Peer House, which includes space for retail and a basement bar, will be centered on a restaurant known as The Bachelor Farmer.
Personally, I have long coveted that building and am glad to see it get some love. It seems that Eric and Andrew Dayton feel the same way, much of what they are doing to the structure celebrates the inherent beauty of the old aesthetics, while bringing in a new, cool, vibe. The old floorboards will be preserved, but there might be a cutting edge mural on the wall. I wasn't allowed to take pictures, as it's not ready for prime time just yet, but I did get a snap of this section of wall that should give you a taste of what they have planned.
The Bachelor Farmer will be a restaurant that uses local ingredients to create food that celebrates our Nordic heritage. Chef Paul Berglund has been brought on to man the kitchen and create a menu that defines exactly what that means, but the idea is to create an authentically Minnesota restaurant. Does that mean a menu chock-full of hotdish? I don't think so. In fact plans are in the works to make a rooftop farm on the building where cooks could run up and gather ingredients as needed. Berglund, originally from St. Louis and formerly of Oliveto in California, has been working locally at Rustica and Heartland. The cocktail program is being run by local drinks guru Pip Hanson.
The main floor will contain about 85 seats. A small bar occupies the front room and the main dining area is set completely with banquet seating. The second level of the restaurant, accessed by stair or elevator, will be used for regular seating during busy times and be available for private dining and events. The upstairs space is divided into four flexible rooms, the first containing a spectacular skylight and fireplace. The two areas closest to the front of the building will be more lounge-like, possibly containing a ping-pong table and maybe a bubble domed hand hockey table. You know the one.
Things are still in serious construction mode, and the idea is that they hope to open some time in July. I'm looking forward to see how the space fleshes out and what exactly will be on the menu of this Minnesota restaurant owned by brothers with a distinctly Minnesota name.