Food question of the week: Why isn’t everything in life as easy as growing chives or rhubarb?
Anyone been to Soul Daddy yet? That’s the restaurant at Mall of America that was part of the three city mini-chain launched overnight . . . the one based on America’s Next Great Restaurant . I know, I can’t think of anything worse frankly, and walking by the other day it seemed soulless in appearance. But the line was a crusher, and I am curious if anyone has been? Whaddja think? I am not optimistic, but curious.
Speaking of quick serve and fast casual, here’s a list for you. Burgers are not going anywhere. They are hot, have been for 100 years. There were a dozen burgers in the TC alone that I wanted to include but couldn’t for a variety of reasons. Lemme know what your top five are in town: 5-8, 112, Vincent, Busters, Blue Door, Nook, Lions Tap, Lurcat, Sandy’s, Manny’s, Modern, Tilia . . . those are my top five.
In other news, here's part of the official press release we've all been talking about:
In 2012 Delta will be redefining the edible landscape at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as part of a $2 billion investment in enhancing the overall customer experience. At Concourse G terminal, Delta will offer 12 new local chef-driven restaurants, fresh markets, the integration of Apple iPads throughout the terminal and concierge services for frequent fliers on the go.
Chefs will work with local farmers and producers to use high-quality ingredients to create fresh menu offerings and a sustainable, health-conscious approach to dining. In addition, Bill Summerville, one of the best wine-os in the country will be overseeing a selection of tasteful wines and locally produced beers that appeal to both local travelers and jetsetters from around the globe.
Restaurants will include:
• Mill City Tavern™. A reflection of the wealth of Midwestern farms and artisan purveyors, and inspired by Chef Lenny Russo's commitment to fresh, local ingredients. Chef Russo is a James Beard Award nominee for Best Chef.
• Mimosa . A raw bar and brasserie inspired by Provencal cuisine. Created by Chef Russell Klein, Mimosa features the flavors and textures of simple French country cooking. Chef Klein's Meritage is consistently recognized as one of the best French restaurants in Minneapolis - St. Paul since its debut.
• Minnesota Beer Hall™. Beer halls have historically been a gathering place for communities and celebration and are the inspiration for The Minnesota Beer Hall. This lively venue will offer passengers a festive gathering place to relax prior to flight. OTG has teamed with Chef Erick Harcey of Victory 44 to create this entertaining pub offering 48 beers on tap, a selection of signature cocktails, and classic food staples, including breakfast.
• Minni Bar™. An easygoing cafe offering a menu of globally inspired sandwiches. Chef Andrew Zimmern, renowned for his knowledge of world cuisine, will oversee a menu that features authentic global flavors combined with locally inspired ingredients.
• Twinburger™. A collaboration with Scott Nelson, owner of famed Matt's Bar, which is often credited with inventing the Jucy Lucy, a famous South Minneapolis cheeseburger that features cheese inside the meat patty rather than on top.
• Shoyu ™. A concept of Chef Koshiki Yonemura Smith, Shoyu, is a modern Japanese menu that celebrates fresh ingredients and traditional technique. The noodles and dumpling wrappers will be made fresh daily in a glass structure that juts out onto the terminal, engaging travelers with a unique, inviting experience.
• Vero™. Delivered by Pizzeria Lola chef and owner Ann Kim, Vero features thin-crust, artisanal pizzas. The individually sized pies will be baked at nearly 700 degrees to create the perfect crunch. Kim's fresh twist on toppings will offer diners delicious combinations.
• Volante ™. A modern Italian restaurant, Volante, is overseen by Chef Doug Flicker, who is renowned for being able to take three seasonal ingredients and create a true Italian experience. Chef Flicker's own Piccolo restaurant has been recognized for its outstanding cuisine throughout the Twin Cities.
Cibo Express Gourmet Food Halls
Patterned after a local farmers market, the Food Halls offer fresh produce, baked goods, premiere coffee and tea blends and classic food staples.
• Cibo Express® Gourmet Markets. These markets feature a wide assortment of freshly-prepared products and bottled beverages to provide customers with a delicious meal to enjoy prior to or during flight. The markets are also a great opportunity to celebrate local and artisan foods, including Chef Michelle Gayer, owner of the Salty Tart Bakery, who has developed a line of "black label" sandwiches that feature artisanal meats and cheeses, and neighborhood bakery Rustica, which will be providing the markets and restaurants with fresh baked bread daily.
• Custom Burger™. Custom Burger will feature a custom beef blend using regional farm-sourced meats. Chef Erick Harcey has composed burgers for the menu, which will also include veggie, turkey and fish burger options, as well as house-made milkshakes and fried pickles.
• Lucy's Asian Kitchen®. Offering a new twist on quick-casual Asian, all of the delicious rice and noodle dishes at Lucy's are wok'd to order in front of guests.
• Tagliare®. Offers classic pizza by the slice or by the pie, based throughout the day using fresh ingredients.
• World Bean®. At MSP, Minneapolis' own Dogwood Coffee Company is the premier micro-roaster and will be the purveyor of coffee for Worldbean and the restaurants. Worldbean will also feature a seasonal assortment of whole-leaf teas. Bill Waddington, owner of TeaSource will select the seasonal teas and help guide the baristas on proper brewing techniques.
So, yes, I will be offering up plenty of news about this as the months progress, and no, I am not really getting back in the restaurant business in terms of day to day operations, but I found a deal I was really excited about executing. I have is an amazing and sophisticated partner in OTG and a world class commitment from a world class company in Delta and here is the bigger takeaway . . . if you have any business that offers food, and you are not seeking excellence however that is defined, well, you will soon be without customers. The food world platform is massive, and the average flier finally wants something more than unhealthy, boring fast food options. Speaking for myself, I can’t wait to get my amazing sandwich menu into production and out there for the world to eat. We are not doing anything fancy, not re-writing any record books, but we will offer a great sandwich, one that’s fresh and delicious and easy on the wallet. The idea of quick serve is brilliant. It's just that most of the execution out there is horse crap. Anyway, as Minnibar develops, you will hear about it here.
And be honest, look at the amazing list of chefs and food mavens involved in this massive project and tell me you aren’t psyched about the prospect. This is like the first day of spring training . . . anything is possible. Speaking of which, No. 3 was my favorite ball player: A massive talent and a superb human being; Killebrew will be missed.