You've been wondering what's going on in the old Shorty & Wags spot on 38th and Nicollet haven't you? People have been bustling about in there, and someone first papered the windows and then put up a logo. Well, that person was chef Landon Schoenefeld of HauteDish.
The space will soon become Nighthawks, a post-modern take on the urban American diner (yes, inspired by Edward Hopper's iconic painting). "The building owners are from my hometown and they approached me about consulting on the space around six months ago, and then one thing led to another and now we're partnered up and doing this," Schoenefeld told me.
They're talking about well-executed takes on simple, classic diner fare, with a few expected twists and turns along the way (hello, this is the man who redefined tater tot hotdish). "Diner food is near and dear to my heart, but we'll obviously throw some interesting curves in there. And it will be more like a diner menu with a New York deli twist." Some of the items on his brain include a good solid chicken soup, pastrami sandwich, and chopped liver along with short/tall stacks of pancakes, hashbrowns, plus burgers and dogs. They'll be opening at 4pm, so needless to say you can have your breakfast for dinner.
There will be a craft beer focus, with 20 rotating taps, plus wines on tap. Rob Jones is consulting on a creative aperitif drinks list, because it's only a beer/wine license, but there's talk about mastering some gin-flavored sodas and ballyhoo like that. Kids will be courted and welcomed with soft-serve ice cream and a house soda program, which will anchor the family- friendly brunch.
Maybe more exciting, there's another restaurant buried inside this new restaurant. Birdie will be a different experience all together in the same building. "I'm kind of building the kitchen of my dreams in here. I miss cooking, and I'm excited to do some more of the fun stuff." On Tuesday through Thursday nights, Schoenefeld will host a "spontaneous restaurant" in the built-out prep kitchen area (shall we say weekly pop-up? .... really it's the ultimate kitchen table of sorts). The meals prepared for this dining experience will be like culinary improv, where the menu is really dictated by the market and the seasons and served in the kitchen with the chefs and eaters all hanging out together. "I mean sure you'll see some small focused plates, but there will also be family-style servings and we'll be working with great, cool ingredients like lamb belly and tons of vegetables. I might be cooking one course while the sous is making pasta for another course and people will be able to watch and talk about it as it all comes together." Though details are still being hammered out, Birdie will deliver 8-10 courses for around $50 per person, with additional wine pairings as an option.
Man this is becoming a hot corner with Five Watt Coffee, Kyatchi, and longtime Blackbird! Things are progressing with the plans, menus, and permits. But if everything goes well, look for an opening sometime early winter.
3753 Nicollet Ave S.
Mpls, MN 55409