Photo by Caitlin Abrams
>> Blackstone Bistro quietly opened in St. Louis Park, in the former Panera space of the Shops at Excelsior & Grand. The food is an eclectic and international mix, with American and Mediterranean influences. The Egyptian owners have two other locations in Cairo, and this is their first US location. There's everything from jumbo lump crab cakes to flatbreads to pastas, burgers, seafood, steak—even paella.
>> The Danger is up and turning at Betty Danger's Country Club. The glowing pink mechanical tree that rotates (revolves?) is a-churning and you can grab a seat that will take you "nowhere, at a leisurely pace." Buy a package, which includes drinks and snacks, and you get to ride for around 30 minutes and take in the view of the dulcet beauty that is Nordeast.
>> Well, tis the seasonals! The Dari-ette Drive In is open in St. Paul (hello pizza burger), Also, ones to look forward to: Sandcastle opens April 17 and The Tin Fish is opening a second location in Edina at the Braemar Park. Still no word on Sea Salt other than: April.
>> Lariat Lanes, where you could get a cold beer, some warm wine, and Heggies while you bowled, is closing as of May 10. Richfield be getting fancy.
>> After a seriously institutional run, Campus Pizza is closed after 56 years of feeding hungry Gophers.
>> I believe I am right when I say that the wood-burning oven at Uptown's Figlio was the first in the city way back in 1984, that Phil and Pete had to help pen the city code for it. Well, the crusty old horse is about to get fired up again by chef Todd McDonald when he launches the rustic Italian Parella in the space. Look for summer opening.
>> Truck-to-Mortar is so HOT right now. Big River Pizza has started construction on its new digs in the Lofts at the farmers' market in Lowertown. And the Gogi Bros. are putting down roots in the Shady Oak prefecture in Eden Prairie. Let's go small business!
>> Famous Dave Anderson let it fly on Facebook this week that he's ready and primed to start cooking some new, freshy ribs. The founder of Famous Dave's is no longer associated with the chain, and is now free to do his own thing again. Watch out, that man knows BBQ, no matter what you think of the chain. Look for Jimmie's Old Southern Smokehouse BBQ to come to Hayward, Wisconsin (the site of the original Dave's, which burned down) sometime this year.
>> Well shine on, local food people! NOT shocking, but Jim Christiansen of Heyday has been named a Food & Wine Best New Chef 2015, joining the ranks of other starry notables: Erik Anderson, Jaime Malone, Stewart Woodman, Tim McKee, and Gavin Kaysen. Helluva fine bunch. ALSO, it should be noted the Mirra Fine of Perennial Plate was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for her opening work on PBS's relaunch of The Victory Garden. OH AND HEY, while you're at it, vote hard and vote often for Thomas Kim in the F&W People's Choice category (I mean you could vote for Paul Berglund too, but he's already up for a Beard nom, and Jim is already sporting the shiny ribbon, soooo, let's spread the love. Hmmm?)
>> ROAD TRIP! Head down to Chicago for a spell while our own Erik Anderson takes a temporary lead role at Intro starting May 14. The restaurant is the brain child of Lettuce Entertain You's Rich Mellman and aims to have a rotating roster of notable chefs from across the country pulling short shifts. Don't freak out peeps, Brut is still in the works.
>> Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya? Cook? If you do, you could win a trip to Ireland with Twin Cities Live. Submit a video of yourself cooking something luscious with Finnegan's beer by Sunday, April 5, and you might be chosen to cook live on TV to win the trip! Pro tip: Don't make the beer green.
>> Whole hog butchery is an art form, and there's something very cool about learning how to break down a whole animal. If you've always wanted to learn how, check out the class that Jon Wipfli of The Minnesota Spoon is offering. The small classes on April 11 and 25 are limited to four people each (but you can contact Jon and set up your own class for another date if you have the pals and the time). Your $200 will get you hands-on knowledge, practice, and a quarter of a hog, which is around 35 pounds of meat to bring home. Email Jon.Wipfli@gmail.com to hold your spot.
>> Great Read: Dig into this piece by NYT's Pete Wells on the evolution of small plates. "When Mr. Colicchio says now that he has lost interest in cooking or eating main courses, it’s like hearing that Wolf Blitzer gets all of his Middle East news from Upworthy."