You heard about the Lynn, right? The new restaurant going in on Bryant, just south of 50th Street, beside Patina, in part of the new building that replaced that which burned down in the old Heidi’s fire. If you’re like me you had heard some things about it but were kind of vague on what the Lynn really was or would be. So I called up the new chef, Peter Ireland, and got some details. Ireland has a ridiculously starry background—he cooked at the Gramercy Tavern, Café Boulud, and Daniel in New York City, and at Paul Kahan’s Blackbird in Chicago. Yes, you read that right—it’s a white-tablecloth Michelin-starred parade of above-the-fold celebrity chefs. Oh, he also had his own place in Vermont for a number of years, and moved out here so his wife could attend law school at William Mitchell. They like it here—“The first morning we were in our new apartment my wife went down the street and brought back Kopplin’s coffee and their pastry, from Rustica, and I was like, Whoa: We can live here,” remembers Ireland—so they’re staying. And staying means Ireland’s opening The Lynn.
What does a white tablecloth, superstar-trained chef do in South Minneapolis? A lot. Ireland tells me his restaurant will basically be a French-influenced American spot, in the same way that Lucia’s or Meritage are French-influenced American, which is to say more real-life-modern-American than French, but a little French under there too. In terms of real-life-modern-American: They’ll have third-wave coffee! The Lynn will operate as a coffee, light breakfast, and pastry spot first thing in the morning. But not just any coffee, light breakfast, and pastry spot—the coffee program is being designed by Andrew Kopplin, of St. Paul legend Kopplin’s Coffee. Kopplin tells me he does a little consulting like this: “I consult on a limited basis. I helped Wise Acre with their espresso. I won’t do it for everybody. I’ll do it for Peter. I’ll do it for people who will do what I say.” Turns out Kopplin’s is currently roasting its own espresso, and plans in the next few months to start doing all their own roasting, and if the timing lines up, The Lynn will be the Minneapolis place to get that coffee. At lunch, the Lynn will be a casual restaurant—think farmer’s market-driven salads, burgers and hand-cut fries, and croque monsieur, but no quiche, no crepes—and no foie-gras-and-truffle stuffed DB Burger, the zillion dollar burger that turned New York City on its ear some years ago, even though Ireland says he knows how to make them, and has made many, in his years as part of the Boulud empire. The restaurant is physically shaped like an ‘L,’ and the restaurant will have about 30 seats in each arm of the L. At dinner the restaurant will be split into a half-and-half arrangement of no-reservation and reservation seats. In the no-reservation front people will be able to order from a casual menu including burgers, duck confit, and salads as well as a $40 or so 3-course prix-fixe more elegant menu. In the back at the reservation seats the only menu will be that prix-fixe. If there’s a demand for it, Ireland sees himself offering more ambitious tasting menus as well. But that’s not all! Ireland plans to offer a lot of to-go options: In the morning you may pick up a bagged lunch with your coffee, there will be full dinners (say a salt-crusted chicken, or fish en papillote, roast potatoes, and creamed spinach, and you finish the chicken in your own oven) for dinner parties or any day, and fully stocked picnic baskets to take to Lake Harriet for the summer concerts, filled with salads and snacks. “And if you love the basket, you can just keep it, or bring it back and get your deposit back,” explains Ireland. What else? A small but carefully curated wine- and beer-list (no taps, there’s no room) a target opening date of October, a front of the house manager and partner in the form of Jay D. Peterson, the well-known long time manager of Uptown bookstore Magers & Quinn, and chef-painted ceilings. Yes, all week Ireland has been up on a ladder using his serious cooking background to brandish some flat-white up high. Welcome to town, chef. It’s cold in the winter, hot in the summer, we really like our coffee, and we like picnics too—you should fit in just fine around here, we’re glad you came. The Lynn on Bryant, 5003 Bryant Avenue S., Mpls. + Facebook