Photo by Paul Vincent
>> The Lowry Hill gang is super psyched that Bradstreet Neighborhood Craftshouse is finally open. It went from swank hotel bar with exclusivity issues to darkly lit low-slung neighborhood joint in the former Rye space. There's a bigger focus on food than in the old spot, many dishes lean interestingly Eastern, and a solid agreement to keep the snobbery away.
>> Art deco is back in a big way with the opening of Il Foro. The Forum Cafeteria space is alive once again with a slight zshoozsh: the front area has been converted to the bar, the main floor is now level and occupied by six football-shaped, high-back booths. Chef Joe Rolle is working the stoves to bring out modern takes on classic Italian dishes. There's a suckling pig porchetta to get in your mouth immediately.
>> Remember when the Sofitel was a hot spot in Bloomington? It could be again with Lela, which opened yesterday. Though Sofitel is now a Sheraton, the restaurant space that sits adjacent is completely new and refreshed. Modern grey tones and light wood floors play a sophisticated vibe along with copper-colored booths and a kitchen bar. The story they're telling is one of steaks (the huge Cowboy ribeye will run you $90, but it's meant for four people), house-made pasta, and fresh crudo, which could include Peruvian ceviche or a thinly sliced scallop. It's not really Italian, other than the naming of the pastas, but I'm ok with that.
>> Big River Pizza is sorta quietly open in Lowertown. The shop is in limited open, running with slices and a few salads as menu options through this Saints homestand. After that they'll bump it up to the full menu format.
>> The St. Croix Chocolate Shop is officially open in its new spot just down the road! Besides later hours (open till 10 p.m. tonight), there's a short menu of savory eats like bruschetta, wood-fired potatoes, rosemary prosciutto palmiers, plus wine. Since the shop's turning five years old on Saturday, they're throwing a party! Go check out the new digs, get some cake and champagne, plus chocolate samples all day. Call it Dad's Day pre-gaming.
>> Lederhosen are just too sassy to only pull out of the trunk in October. Get 'em on for a slappin' good time this weekend at GermanFest in St. Paul's Historic Schmidt Brewery. You like schlagen? They got both kinds: hammer and firefighter schlagen. There will be German films (kind of a downer), Weiner dog racing (kind of an upper), strongman competitions, classes on how to properly say gemütlichkeit and of course, buckets of beer and yards of sausages.
>> On the other side of the stretch, little lakeside Excelsior is about to be overrun by pirates and eye patches. Excelsior Brewing is hosting its first-ever Pirate Barrrr Crawl and the $20 ticket will get you a T-shirt and wristband good for all sorts of booty: free can koozies, beads, headbands, eye patches, $3 rum punches at The Suburban, $3 Capn' Morgan drinks at Haskell's, access to live music, and more. Someone's going to rig up a sweet peg-leg, I know it.
>> Nothing like a little night market at a brewery. The first-ever Northeast Night Market will commence at Bauhaus Brew Labs this Tuesday. A ton of people applied for booth space, so you can bet there's going to be a varied bunch among the 30 vendors. Among the prints, pottery, jewelry, woodworkings, and other things, you'll find roving musicians, a caricaturist, and perhaps a pint or two.
>> The food trucks will herd up this weekend up in Blaine for the first MN Food Truck Fair of the summer. If you miss this one, you'll be able to catch them in Uptown, St. Paul, and Burnsville still this year. Gotta say, I'm liking the Blaine option for parking and space (plus you can come out early and donate some non-perishable food for MyTalk 107's Food for Families drive and catch a live broadcast of Weekly Dish now from 9-11am! Come and hang!)
>> Fancy a bit of travel with a little grape or (watery) grains focus? Hit up this Pack Your Bag! Happy Hour with Amusee's Leslee Miller and A Perfect Pint's Michael Agnew and you'll taste some great Oregon wines and beers while chatting up their upcoming Grains & Grapes Adventure Travel trips. I'd hang out with those two on a Rhone river boat any day of the week.
Two To Get On
>> This one will likely sell out, so get your tix soon for the Travail Lakeside Party in which the rogues take it to the park on Sunday, June 28 from 1-8pm. Your measly $10 in advance will net you some Good Old Summer Fun in the form of live music, dunk tank, human foosball, cornhole and more. Eats and drinks are cash only, so bring some green for grilled oysters, shrimp tacos, sexy avocados, cheddar brats, elote, chicken legs (all done with in the Travailian style) and a lotta lotta beer. Take the first month of summer down with the appropriate splash, hmmm?
>> This one you'll want to get on the calendar and book soon. Madden's Food & Wine Weekend is happening August 28-30 this year and the first lineup of chefs is already a doozy: Jim Christiansen, Jamie Malone, Erik Anderson, Niki Francioli, Doug Flicker, Landon Schoenefeld, Amy Theilen, Robert Wohlfeil, and more . . . plus Andrew Ticer and Micheal Hudman from Memphis, John Kraus from Patisserie 46, and a new Hot Wings Cook Off this year. This weekend is a smashing good time.