As we await the flurries that will surely fly today, let's consider the flurry of activity that's happening at the end of the year in restaurants! Openings, closings, and swapatooies! It's crazier than a mall parking lot out there. While you revel in the local evolution, take time to order your holiday bagels, really hone your cheeseball game, and swap out new toys for beer.
>> Esker Grove opened in the Walker Art Center this week. Doug Flicker and his team are running the new restaurant in the new ground level lobby and it's bright, modern, and friendly. Lunchers should give the place a shot, sure there's a fried chicken sandwich and a burger, but do not sleep on the beautiful deviled ham sandwich, oohdelolly.
>> Babani's Kurdish Restaurant has opened their new Babani's 2 location, on Filmore in Westside St. Paul. They've closed the original location, but the new one has free parking, free wifi, beer & wine, and that new restaurant smell! Same phone number, which is nice.
>> Bonicelli Kitchen opens for real today on Central Ave. in Northeast. Laura Bonicelli, who has a successful meal delivery biz as well, has certainly weathered a few starts and stops to get here. Her full service eatery will focus on fresh small plates served for dinner on Tu-Sa evenings.
>> Get ready for to crush some pink donuts Nordeasters, Glam Doll Donuts opens this Sunday at 10am. In the fresh Red20 building, this location will have an expanded menu, plus a beer and wine license and so much fried dough you won't be able to Instagram fast enough.
>> The Bourbon Butcher is now open down Farmington way. The casual eatery is severely whiskey focused and decked from stem to stern in barrels and staves. Smoked meats, craft cocktails, a righteous list of brown liquor (especially for the suburbs), live music, and a whole side room dedicated to retro arcade games makes this a potential entry into your GPS.
>> Ali Kaplan muttered something about malls, Scotch-filled chocolates, and Dom Perignon-infused gummi bears so she gets to be in the FEED: Welcome Sugarfina to the MOA.
>> And Williams-Sonoma is closing out at the Mall of America. Don't worry, there are still four other metro locations.
>> St. Louis Park is getting a new distillery and cocktail room when Copperwing Distillery opens their doors in January. Cocktails at the bar are being created in collaboration with the Big Watt Bev Co. team.
>> CONFIRMED: Portillo's will be opening their first Minnesota outpost in Woodbury in July. If you don't know about Portillo's and cake shakes and Italian beef sandwiches and chili cheese dogs, go find your nearest Chicago friend and ask them. This will be their 50th location in 6 states, with more local sites planned in the coming years.
>> Revival St. Paul will open for business on Dec 26 at 11am starting with lunch, and there will be takeout too. That might be enough to get you out of your jammies.
>> Your favorite Frenchie wine guy, Nico Giraud, had left Meritage to join Gavin Kaysen as Wine Director of Spoon & Stable and Bellecour. I bet he's chumming it up with Daniel Boulud, right now.
>> Did you order your pre-holiday bagels from Rise Bagel? You only have until Monday!
>> Sharpen up the tuuks, it's Indeed Brewing's Stir Crazy Skate Party tonight at the Depot downtown. No shoveling required chums, it's indoors. And DL Shannon Blowtorch will keep you warm.
>> It's Santarchy! Lowertown hosts its 9th annual Santacon this Saturday, so dust off your Krampus mask, braid your beard, and join all those drunken holiday merrymakers who will be working hard to get on the naughty list. I suggest eating when you get to Big River Pizza, for carbs sake.
>> The Brass Barn Polka Band will take up the tunes at Bau Hau Brew Labs Christmas Party on Saturday. It also marks the last day of their Sweet Toys for Sick Kids toy drive, so bring in a new unwrapped toy and they'll hand you a beer. Pro Tip: "The cooler the loot, the bigger the boot" is the motto of the night so don't skimp, you Scrooge.
>> So last week The New York Times picked up Dara's cheeseball story from last year and basically made a trend piece out of it, which is nice. And now the Linden Hill Farmers Market is rather going ''(Cheese) Balls to the Wall" at the holiday market this Sunday. Head over and do some last minute shopping while you judge the entrants in the cheeseball competition that will make someone super cheesy, and proud of it.
>> With all my heart I hope I can make it to the Pub Caroling taking place at Merlin's Rest on Sunday afternoon. It's very simple, go have brunch (fish n chips will do you right), sip some libations (whisky, you fools), and be prepared to lead the room in song without the help of a song sheet, or just hang out and sing with those who feel the calling to lead. It's pure magic.
Photo by Bob Shrader, licensed under CC BY 2.