>> It's a bar that's good for your chakras. The kids from Verdant Tea and Prohibition Kombucha have teamed with Intelligent Nutrients to launch IN Spirits by Prohibition: The first-ever aromatherapeutic cocktail bar that fills the former Wunderbar space at the Intelligent Nutrients HQ in Nordeast. Aromatic oils and natural ingredients and spices form the backbone of the drinks on the menu, many of which use teas from Verdant's stock. I will say, I loved the drinks at the old Verdant Tea Shop while they existed, so I guess I'll open myself up to the Universe for aromatherapeutic cocktails. The bar is only open on Thursday and Friday, with traditional tea service from 3 to 5 p.m. with cocktails starting at 4 p.m.
>> Giordano's is open in Uptown, according to the line around the block that formed outside the front door on Wednesday. Peeps be serious about their deep-dish pizza love, especially when it has legitimate Windy City roots. I admit to loving a good red sauce with copious amounts of cheese, so really, I'm in.
>> The original Figlio spot in Uptown is aglow again as Parella. The space, which has been through a lot of changes since 2009, is totally different this time around: airy, open, bright. There's a lofted table perched on the side of the bar, and even one smack dab in the middle of the bar. Using the old wood-fired oven, chef Todd McDonald is putting up plates of Italian fare like whole branzino and wood-baked gnocchi. There's also some real good panna cotta from pastry chef Khan Tranh (most recently of Bachelor Farmer).
>> The Rabbit Hole has opened for lunch with a new concept known as The Fry Cook. Break it down: head into TRH, pick up a Fry Cook menu which is populated with fries, be they dusted, sauced, or loaded. Order your spuds from the bar, take a seat and wait for the magic. I tried the OG Tommy's with chili, yellow mustard, and pickles (it works), and the serious Fire In The Hole with ghost pepper hot sauce. My favorite was the Nam Nom (front and center, above) which topped fat fries with marinated pork, jalapenos, cilantro, and umami mayo with a poached egg add-on. I won that lunch for $10.
>> I keep forgetting to tell you guys that ping-pong bars are a thing, and that they are now a thing here. Hop21 is the table tennis bar and lounge that has opened in a basement on Washington Ave. (near the Eagle Bolt Bar). When it hits 90 degrees in summer, what do you do ... head to the basement! There are both pro and amateur leagues to join, plus snacks in the form of paninis and a full bar.
>>Blaze Pizza is now open in Knollwood Mall. It's the latest national entrant into the local wood-fired Neapolitan pizza category (you know, Punch-y). To announce their entrance with authoriTAY, the shop is giving away FREE whole pizzas today, from 11am to 10pm, for anyone who follows them on social media.
>> News about the first restaurant coming to Mayo Square dropped this week. Old Town Pour House is a Chicago-based eatery that sports about 90 local and global beers on tap in a upscale casual bar/dining venue. The menu seems American tavern-esque with braised short ribs, risotto, pulled pork sandwich, couple of burgers and the like. I can't help but wonder how The Pourhouse down the block feels about all this.
>> Good news for Eat Street and hungry folks, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen is opening a real Jamaican restaurant at 26th & Nicollet, in the former Cafe Kem space. The team that won the Food Network's Food Court Wars to open the original spot in the Burnsville Center, has partnered up with ReFillMN (you know how I love those guys) to create an eatery where every meal you purchase also helps feed someone in need. Check out their Kickstarter and pop into the open house/sauce tasting on Thursday the 23rd, let's get this rolling!
>> There's a new delivery service in town, Caviar has launched in Minneapolis with a few goodies on the roster: Be'Wiched Deli, Bombay Bistro, Rinata, Hot Indian, Unideli, Hen house Eatery, and more! Get the app and get your vittles, first time is free, delivery charges start at $1.99. There are no minimums, so go ahead and feed that onion ring craving.
>> Summer Sundays are now for the Loring Alley Rally. One of the coolest spaces in Mpls. is the Loring alley behind Third Bird, and they are smartly putting it to good use. Starting this Sunday and going through August, you'll find a market from 11am-6pm with more than 35 vendors, live music, and general good citizenry.
>> What was Lumberjack Days is now Log Jam! and it's happening in Stillwater this weekend. Head out there and say hey to our DMG as she emcees the Chef's Competition on Saturday at noon. Chefs from Smalley's and Phil's Tara Hideaway will be given $50 to spend at the farmers market to get the goods they'll cook live in front of YOU and three James Beard Award-winning judges. Game on.
>> Now that we've had our Bastille Day frivolities, it's time to move on to another country. Festa Italiana is on this weekend at Harriet Island. That's a big grazie for gondola rides, bocce tournaments, wine tasting and all the pizza/pasta that implies.
>> I love it when the East comes West, especially since the Lowertown seems to be getting all the good things lately. Anyhoo. JD Fratzke of Strip Club/Saint Dinette and Erik Eastman of Easy & Oskey are packing over to Birchwood Cafe for a five course Guest Chef's Dinner with Marshall Paulson on July 29th. Tix are $60