Photo by Caitlin Abrams
>> The Loop West End is now open in the old Figlio/Sopranos/Ringo spot. Something tells me this one might stick. They've reoriented the bar to make it more central, given the place a nice makeover, and created a menu that's all-star hits of American tavern food with a little bit of class: Fulton beer battered chicken tenders, pot roast sliders, but also gnocchi with pork ragu, shrimp and octopus with butter beans, and buttermilk fried chicken.
>> Prairie Dogs is in a limited state of openess in the LynLake neighborhood. The journey for this hot dog shop seems to be an epic one that is almost in its final phase. For now they'll be open at 4 p.m. on weekdays and earlier on weekends during this soft open while they wait for the liquor license. If all goes well, they should be offering delivery through ROCKIT this weekend, which would be perfect for your couch-bound Oscar viewing.
>> Down in the North Loop, Shag Sushi is now open. From the guy behind Rojo and Ling & Louie's, comes this boldly non-hipster spot to the 'hood. It's a '70s themed joint with some very interesting sushi and snazzy drinks, nary a selvedge denim piece to be found. Instead of barn wood, there's mauve shag carpeting on the walls. A refreshing break perhaps?
>> Sad to hear that Frogtown's Daily Diner is now closed.
>> Twisted Fork Grille in St. Paul will finish up business as of February 28. The Green Mill sibling will close and change hands, becoming another location for Colossal Cafe after a bit of a makeover.
>> There's also this weirdness. The shop that was formerly Verdant Tea, became Verdant Lounge (without the tea peeps who created it) with an Argentinian menu, which then morphed into La Posada for a hot second, and is now closed. All within a matter of months. Verdant Tea is still doing their tea thing, btw.
>> James Beard Semi-finals (a.k.a. "It's an honor to be nominated") have been announced, and there's plenty of love for our Twin Towns. Spoon and Stable is up for Best New Restaurant, both Rustica and Patisserie 46 are up for Outstanding Baker, Kim Bartmann is in the running for Outstanding Restaurateur, and Restaurant Alma is up for Outstanding service. In the Best Chef Midwest category, the locals with nods include Paul Berglund of The Bachelor Farmer, the Travailians, Jim Christiansen of Heyday, Doug Flicker of Piccolo, Michelle Gayer of Salty Tart, Russell Klein of Meritage and Lenny Russo of Heartland. PHEW! Now we have to wait for March 24 to see who of these lovelies makes it to the next round. Good luck all!
>> Yo Yo Yo, Restaurant WEEK starts Sunday.
>> Save the drama for your mama and take her to Mattie's On Main for the Oscar party this Sunday. Hosted by CAST Party, there will be an open mic, games, showtunes for the ages, sing-alongs, the Awards, plus food and drink specials to help make it a raucous endeavor (of course you could make a day of it and kick it off with Mattie's Sunday Drag Brunch and those bottomless bloodies). Way more fun than just putting on a dress and sitting at a table.
>> It’s time to become the local legend you’ve always believed you could be. Enter Mayslack’s Annual Chili Cook-Off this Saturday, and make your bid for immortality. First place wins $1,000, your name on the Hall of Fame plaque, and the chance for your chili to be Mayslack’s house chili for a year. Winner decided by public vote, so gather ye friends.
>> Next Thursday, Feb 26, you could get ALL the inside dirt on whether Giada chews and spits, if the McNeely’s are really that nice, or if Bobby Flay really isn’t. Ok, maybe you won’t get all those answers, but you can get some of the goods from Andrew Zimmern and Alan Salkin (author of From Scratch: Inside the Food Network) as they dish at the St. Paul JCC. The $25 ticket includes a copy of the book.