Photo by Caitlin Abrams
>> Naf Naf Grill has opened its first TC location . . . in my building! The quick-service Middle-Eastern joint features Chipotle-style service, but instead of burritos they're jamming pitas with shawarma and falafel. Yesterday was day one, and as they were giving out free pitas, the line snaked around the lobby.
>> The day has dawned. The former Joe's Garage is now 4Bells, a southernly joint with some low-country cooking, lots of seafood, and a bit of crisp chicken. The vibe is cool with light industrial touches, I see no problem grabbing a Mr. Perkin's Punch and lolling on the alley patio with some peel 'n eat shrimp. Rooftop ain't happening until September, deal.
>> Kowalski's has opened a new store in Excelsior, which is the closest it's inched toward the Land of Lunds & Byerlys. The new digs on the edge of town has a lot of grab 'n go with expanded sushi, a hot sandwich bar, and make-to-order pasta stations. Plus there's a wine shop next door.
>> Fig.To.Fork is the newest subscription service in town. The local outfit is working with area farms and chefs to put together a fresh box delivered to your doorstep once a week. For around $52 you'll open your door to a box filled with enough seasonal goods to make two dinners for two adults, plus maybe some snacks. And we're not just talking about kale and eggplant—each box promises meat, fish, pasta, grains, artisanal cheese, and the like. Recipes from the pros will guide you through your prep and help give inspiration. When I saw that they even deliver to me, out in the Boondocks, I signed right up. Stay tuned, my first delivery lands Aug. 19.
>> What's going into that old IHOP in St. Anthony? It's The Unofficial Dive Bar & Grill. Gotta love a place that flies the divey flag from the outset, especially with the mantra: It's a dive bar, don't overthink it. The owners also have Sporty's Pub in Como, so they know a thing or two about the Laid Back Life. The Unofficial has a menu that looks similar to Sporty's, with wings, tots, and plenty of burgers including one called The Nutty Buddy with pepper jack, mayo, peanut butter, and bacon.
>> At Lucid Brewing's big party last weekend, they formally announced their plans to open a brewery and taproom in the North Loop (SHRN)* by this fall in a former warehouse at the corner of N. 5th St. and 7th Ave. N., just a few steps NW of Fulton. The Minnetonka facility will still produce, but the new city shop will have a cool taproom, retail, and brewhouse. AND there's another brewery coming to the hood, Modist Brewing will open a huge brewery and taproom in a space on 5th Ave. and 3rd St., near Darby's. This new brewery is a confluence of beer peeps from John Donnelly and Kale Anderson of Lucid, Keigan Knee of Dangerous Man, and Eric Parades a home brewer. Look for an end-of-year opening.
>> Also, in the Go-Big-Or-Go-Home file, Bryn Mawr Brewing has announced its intention to open a brewery and taproom in the former Glenwood Inglewood facility right on the edge of the city. What with Basset Creek burbling by, there is a planned beer gardern which could be damn bucolic.
>> While we're at all this beer talk, you should know that tickets are on sale for the Craft Brewer's Guild's Sept. 19 Autumn Brew Review. Get them while they're fresh.
>> Super Secret Sweet Science Ice Cream Pop-Up Tonight! Location has been revealed, get thee to Cook St. Paul tonight from 5-8 p.m. for a taste of 6-8 flavors that have NEVER been seen before, and never will be seen again (da dum dummmmmm). Think chocolate salted caramel with brownie chunks and cashews. Think lemon basil. Think watermelon lime sorbet. Not to mention a few retired flavors making an appearance. Ice cream pop-up. More, please.
>> Outstanding in Field, the grandpappy of farm dinners, is hosting its local stop this Sunday out at Clear Spring Farm with chef Steve Hesse of Libertine as cook. The tickets are $205, but this may be your only chance to have a yak dinner on a yak farm, so don't snub so easily.
>> Coup d'Etat chef Tommy Begnaud is BACK in business after a car accident that took him out of play for a few months. He's thanking everyone for their support with a little shindig this Sunday from 2-8 p.m. Join in for $25, which gets you all you can eat and drink, inlcuding crawdads, jumbalaya, and smoked brisket, plus live tunes and a general sense of well being.
>> Pork & Pickle is popping up at Lyn65 on Aug. 18. Here's a fun reason to gather your peeps, this pop-up has two seatings at the Chef's table, which will include special treats, an extra course, and a unique chef's cocktail to boot. General seating is $50 for six courses, the chef's table is $75.
*(So Hot Right Now)