Don’t call it a comeback, he’s been back for months, but Scott Pampuch—one of the founding chefs of the Minnesota locavore movement and the originator of Corner Table who left town for Milwaukee but then returned to run the University of Minnesota’s food service operations—may have been back, but it was frustratingly not in a way that most people could access. But that was then! Turns out that Pampuch has been quietly testing something called Lunchbox, a sort of pop-up to-go lunch spot in a tent, on the U of M campus for the past four weeks, and it’s about to become permanent.
For the summer, Lunchbox will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.–1:30 pm on Northrup Mall, selling things such as FishSmart sustainably certified fish tacos and shrimp po’boys, grilled cheese sandwiches, roasted-corn coconut salads, basil-ginger lemonade, and Thai iced coffee. The menu will evolve over the summer, Pampuch said, as they get in fresh produce from Cornercopia, the farm run by U of M students and faculty.
So—good on that! If you miss Pampuch’s food, swing on by for an arugula salad with almonds and olives sometime before the snow returns. And if you really miss Pampuch’s food, swing on by Northern Spark this Saturday at 9 p.m., for a free—yes, free!—100-course dinner, brought to you by the good people of the Institute for Advanced Study and University Dining Services.
Here’s how it will work:
They’re setting up a 100-seat table. You are allowed to grab a seat and hang out as long as you like. (Just show up, no ticket required.) At 9:01 p.m., the first course will go out, probably on the theme of ‘salt and pepper.' All 100 courses will then follow an idea of a ‘perfect pairing,’ like tomato and basil or lemon and lime. The courses will be tiny, one-bite offerings, like restaurant amuse-bouche. And then they will just keep serving them until they get to number 100, which Pampuch guesses will be sometime between 1 and 5 a.m. (Need directions to the site? Official map here.)
100 courses and a permanent lunch tent? Pampuch revealed he’ll be doing some of his famous farm dinners upcoming too, at the U of M’s Landscape Arboretum. Seems like a comeback in a big way.