Maybe third time's a charm. Union's main level dining space is about to burst back on the scene as The Workshop.
The name and general concept was announced earlier this summer in conjunction with a pop-up that gave eaters a pre-view of the new space and menu designed by Kaskaid's newly minted Culinary Director Stewart Woodman. It seems that all cylinders were firing, as they successfully fed around 400 guests, so have decided to take the place out of dry dock.
The Workshop plans to open August 20 (smartly in conjunction with The Book of Mormon down the street) with a menu that will evolve week to week. Woodman told me, "It will offer seasonality, share-ability in an environment that encourages interaction between guests and staff, without sacrificing quality. More than the typical dining experience of more traditional restaurants, where everyone orders their own entrée and it’s more of a function of 'get food into my body', Workshop will provide an opportunity, with the state's best theaters just steps away, for those that appreciate the theatrical nature of the dining experience." This has been Woodman's wheelhouse in the past, making creative small plates that focus on seasonal flavors at affordable prices. The first version of the menu on the website is small, but includes some dishes that are reminiscent of menus past.
Amuse-bouche bites include beet "chicharrones" with truffle salt, and fried oysters with dashi. Mini Apps feature a tomato variation with basil and mini burrata, seared foie gras, but also tater tots with blue cheese and beef cheeks. Mid-Sized Apps include a crumpet "burger" tar tare and shwarma-spiced shrimp on a stick. The top price is $18 for a prime strip of hoisin beef which Woodman says "marries my love of Asian ingredients with my classic French training. That just makes me dance with excitement". There's also seabass in pho broth and a vegetarian lasagna (hoping it's akin to his legendary vegetarian bolognese of days past). For dessert, there's a cheeky "Suck it DQ" banana split for four at $22, along with a rootbeer float, and coffee & donuts.
Woodman added, "I'm very excited to bring a modern progressive dining approach to downtown. I'll have the opportunity to pursue my culinary passion of presenting small exquisitely prepared dishes at a price point that is accessible, in a space that is energetic, modern, casual, and unpretentious. For years I've worked to redefine the traditional 'fine dining' experience in Minnesota. Workshop is an evolution in that ongoing conversation with diners."
Despite the Wednesday night debut, the space will then regularly be open Thursday through Saturday from 5-11pm, with the exception of show nights and special events.