Photo from Estelle's Facebook page
Travail fans know that Travail chief ringleader Mike Brown has had his brother Matt Brown in the kitchen at his side for the past three years, at both Pig Ate My Pizza and Travail. That was then. Now: Matt Brown and former Travail sous chef Travis Stanfield and former Haute Dish server Heidi Harstad (who is also Matt Brown’s wife) are going to open a small-town restaurant called Estelle’s Eatery and Bar, in tiny Harmony, MN.
What’s Harmony? Good question. It’s a town of about 1,000 souls none too far from Iowa, two and a half hours south of Minneapolis and St. Paul straight down on highway 52. It’s got one of those cute old centers with the 19th century buildings facing each other down the main street, and it’s right on the famed Root River bike trail. It’s also where Heidi Harstad grew up. Harstad and Matt Brown are expecting a baby this summer, and thought they wanted to put roots down and raise their family in a small town like Harmony—but then they found a restaurant for sale in Harmony, and they’ve been remodeling it and getting it ready for service ever since.
Here’s the plan: They will open this July 4th weekend, when the town is full with locals in from neighboring towns for the parade. Heidi Harstad will do the wine list, Matt Brown has done the beer list (12 taps, mostly local), they’re collaborating on the cocktails. The restaurants will be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and for brunch on Sundays. Most everything will be sourced from local farms: Think a whole-hog menu with carnitas tacos and barbecued ribs for lunch, and a Flintstone-sized huge pork chop, feather-cut and stuffed with sausage for dinner. Some other menu items: A big double-cheese-bacon burger, flat-iron steak and potatoes, but the potato is one enormous potato gnocchi deep fried. In a month or two, Matt Brown told me, they hope to debut a big pasta program. They’ll also be doing lots of canning and picking of all the local farm produce to get them through the winter.
Also, he tells me Harmony is really, really nice and you will like it. "We got married here, we love it here. The people are so nice, just everyone wants to help us with our vision, because they want a restaurant too. Not to be corny, but I have a kitchen downstairs, we’re going to live upstairs: It really is a cook’s dream come true.”
Want in? Make your travel plans now!
Estelle’s Eatery, 121 Main Ave. N., Harmony, 507-886-1234