Whether or not you have paternal duties this weekend—or are just celebrating the coming solstice next week—it's a good time to soak in the school's-out vibe all over town. Do some late-night noshing in the booming E. Hennepin 'hood, get out to a garden grilling, and remember to tip well this weekend in the name of everyday heroics.
>> The Butcher Block may have been off your radar for a bit, but you need to check it out again. The small and hidden windowless Italian on E. Hennepin is windowless no more. They've accessed the store next door, blown it out and added a gloriously cool front bar area stylishly dressed in dark grey tones with a painted white tin ceiling. Full menu is now available in both the big bar area and the small and cozy back dining area.
>> PinKU Japanese Street Food, also bringing some new jam to E. Hennepin, is kicking open the door tonight with a late night opening cocktail party. From 10pm to Midnight, the small shop with the big pink fish on the wall will be open and serving snacks and drinks for those who stop by.
>> Kona Grill is open at Ridgedale in Minnetonka. This is their second location in MN, after Eden Prairie where they do quite well.
>> If you want to watch a kerfuffle evolve: The Rail Station, that crusty old bar and grill on Hiawatha has closed. The same owners are refreshing the interior (expanding the bathrooms, moving and adding taps, getting rid of some smelly parts for fresh parts) and changing the name to The Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar. And boy howdy, some of the locals are not taking it well. Change is hard. Look for the freshy new god-forbid-hipster spot to open sometime in July.
>> Tim Horton's Donuts is coming to town, though they've been open in some casinos up north and by Tower, for cripes sake. But all I can wonder is, if they start putting their logos on local rink boards, how will we know if the home team is Canadian or American?
>> Cafe Zupas is headed to the former Santorini spot in Eden Prairie. This will be their third location, with spots recently open in Woodbury and Maple Grove. The national brand aims to bring high quality and scratch made, chef-driven salads, soups, and sandwiches to the suburbs.
>> Here's a bit of good action after a few weeks of bad news: There's a new organization in town called BASA, Bartenders Against Sexual Assault. It was born from the bartenders themselves who saw the revolting actions of one Stanford rapist and his cowardly justifications surrounding alcohol consumption, and just couldn't stomach that shit anymore. It's time for all of us to take a stand and protect one another, and these bartenders are stepping up to say "we're watching, and we've got your back". The movement is just getting going, but it's got a lot of sway. This Saturday, June 18, participating bartenders will be donating a portion of their tips to the Joyful Heart Foundation, so find one on the list and tip big.
>> Can I just say I'm loving the play over at Valley Fair this year! This weekend they are all about Hotdish & Hops. Not quite sure how it flows with your ride plan (I'm all about the coasters, can't do the spinny things) but there will be pairings: Summit beer and tater tot hotdish, Excelsior beer and spaghetti hotdish, Schell's beer and chicken wild rice hotdish, and so on. Admission to the park, and hotdish sample card will run you $49, but a sample card only is just $12, but then no Wild Thing.
>> Ja, hier ist GermanFest this weekend! Out at the Schmidt Brewery, you can get your oompahpah on without all those drunken icky Oktoberfest posers hanging on, because this is June! More sausage, more schnitzel, more polka, and more cow bell.
>> The Northeast Night Market is now the summer solstice all day night market and launches this Saturday at Bauhaus Brew Labs. It starts at noon and runs to midnight, so come early for the booths and food trucks and beers or come late for the psychic and Zydeco music and beers.
>> ASI is throwing their Midsommar celebration on Saturday at the castle, at which there will be cloud berries, pole dancing (of the pure Scandi variety), fiddles on fire, and plenty of eats from FIKA to tide you over.
>> Dads shouldn't have to be forced to stand over the hot coals and make you dinner on Father's Day (nor should mom have to clean that up, since no one did dishes on Mother's Day, ahem). Why not pop out to the garden at the Arboretum for some professionally prepared (and cleaned-up-after) BBQ: Memphis ribs, Texas brisket, pulled pork, beer chicken, potato salad and more for $36 per person, kids 16-6 for $15, and under 5 for free.
>> Monday (the ACTUAL summer solstice according to, you know, scientists) appropriately marks the launch of the TIKI menu at the Norseman Distillery cocktail room. There will be special cocktails, guest bartenders, music spinning from the islands, Topolos Tacos food truck, and all sorts of craziness to stretch out your longest day of the year.
>> Summer is suddenly seafood boil season, and I like it. Happy Gnome is rolling forth with an all-you-can-eat boil on June 25th. You get a whole lotta crab and potatoes and corn plus 2 pints of Flying Dog Dead Rise for $45. More please.