St. Paul's Cooks of Crocus Hill has finally come to Minneapolis, after skirting it for years with stores in Edina, Stillwater, and satellite operations in the Kowalski's of Woodbury and White Bear Lake. Opening this Friday in the North Loop, occupying the former Local D'Lish, the first MPLS store is a contemporary looker with a small cooking school space in the back. Though it might be smaller than its sister locations, it hits all the right foodist notes for this neighborhood.
Gotta love the pot and pan installation over the entrance.
Owners Karl Benson and Marie Dwyer want this store to work on a theme: taste. Every product they have on the floor will be available to sample. They'll have a vinegar and oil sampling table, but will also open and sample jars of sauces, preserves, condiments, whatever they have, so that you can do a test-drive before you buy.
While they love local products, they've also joined the Good Food Retailers Collaborative so that they can source unique quality products from all over. A big part of their cooking school curriculum will center around the products they bring in and how to use them in different ways.
The classroom area in the back can be booked for private events and seats up to 24. They're trying out induction burners in the store and some specially created Belgian cookware designed for it. There's also a steam oven they're excited to play with.
On the other end of the room, there's a beverage tasting area. "This is the first time we're doing this, having a dedicated wine and cocktail tasting area," Marie told me, "we hope it fits well with the neighborhood. Maybe someday, when people are waiting for a table at one of our neighbor restaurants, they could stroll over here and get a little preview sip."
Of course you'll find all the Le Creuset they're known for, but there's also a nice bunch of cast iron on display, from the affordable Lodge skillets to the more boutique Finex stuff out of Portland. Prices can range from $20 to $450 for pots and pans, and they believe they'll keep the product mix moving as the neighborhood dictates.
A cooking school schedule is already out, and you can think about joining one of their farm crop shares which will be available at this store for pick-up. Though the store officially opens on Friday, September 16, if you happen to stroll over ... they'll be there ready to sample!