The closing of La Belle Vie a year and a half ago was perhaps the biggest news in the last decade of Minneapolis food. Since then, all of Minneapolis has been waiting and wondering about Tim McKee's next steps—would he amp up his presence at one of the restaurants he still runs, like Sea Change? Would he come back with some new fine dining spot, brand new? Or would he redo one of the restaurants he helps the local powerhouse restaurant group Parasole manage in his partnership with them, such as Libertine, Chino Latino, or Muffaletta? Well, I just got off the phone with him and the answer's finally in: Nope, none of those. Instead, he's going big in goose barnacles.
The details: McKee has resigned his partnership with Parasole, though he will be consulting with them for a year. He has now come on in a partnership with the Fish Guys, the restaurant supplier to most of the fine dining spots in town. This of course comes on the heels of big changes in local fish at powerhouse Coastal Seafoods, which survived the death of the truly beloved and still-missed Brian Nelson in 2014, and was sold to Chicago's Fortune Fish last year.
"If I think about reading that Tim McKee is going to the Fish Guys, it seems like an odd move to me," McKee told me, giving voice to the thoughts in my head. "But I loved learning about fish at Sea Change and Masu," both sustainable seafood places he opened, "and there's so much more to learn. The things I'm finding out are mind-blowing. I never understood how complicated getting really great fish into this market, and keeping it in pristine condition, really is. It's been a wild ride so far—and super exciting. I've seen things, I've got access to things I didn't even know were possibilities." Like what?
"Like goose-neck barnacles. I never knew they could be available in this market, but I got some, I got to play with them. I dropped some off for Jim [Christiansen] at Heyday, dropped some off for Gavin [Kaysen, at Spoon and Stable], Alma picked some up, Monello did too—to my knowledge, I don’t know if these have been in the market before." McKee also told me about raw, bright purple king crab, sustainable scray cod collars, and lots more. So first off, we can expect better seafood at local restaurants because of this new partnership. But could that be all? Surely Tim McKee without a restaurant doesn't make any sense? Would the Fish Guys and McKee ever do something like April Bloomfield's butcher shop-cum-restaurant White Gold, that combined a seafood market and restaurant? No no, McKee told me. Don't put the cart before the horse. "I'm just getting started. There's so much to learn, and I'm having a blast learning."
Congrats to all! And if you start seeing odd fish on local menus, Twin Cities, you know what's going on.