Strange rumblings from readers regarding Nick and Eddie. My e-mail inbox has been lighting up like a Christmas tree for a week with reports of an exodus from the kitchen—Vranian gone (supposedly “bought out” a few weeks ago, which is oftentimes restaurant code for many other things), Steven Brown gone, and Flicker helping out at D'Amico Kitchen. Several friends who are regulars buzzed me to say they had asked about some of these chefs and were told they weren’t there anymore. Some of these folks were just cooking at N & E between other gigs, but some of them have been publicly despondent about the place on their social media pages.
It seems just a few months ago (literally) that the best kept secret in town was the all-star lineup killing it over by Loring Park, so all the recent hubbub made me kinda sad. I ate there twice early on, and really liked much of what I had. Plus the place had that certain indescribable something, sort of like the umami of ambiance. Doug Anderson, the public face of the enterprise, has an incredible knack for striking the right tones with his restaurants and getting details pegged, both elements of restaurant creation that escape so many local owner/operators.
The underlying feeling I have right now about this restaurant is a Yogi Berra-inspired dreamlike evanescence. It’s déjà vu all over again—remember Bakery on Grand and A Rebours? Great openings, great vibes, great teams in place to handle the food coming out of the kitchen, killer cuisine, great everything. Then, just as the restaurants entered puberty, shazam! Kitchens in upheaval, management shake-ups and so on, all ultimately ending in broken hearts as the restaurants became only memories. And looking back, it seems odd that after trying for years to put N & E together and spearheading its concept and design, Anderson wasn’t publicly part of the “official” ownership team. If I remember correctly, it was his wife Jessica, one of the best bakers in town, and Vranian who got all the juice as owner/operators. It seemed quirky at the time, but often what gets written up in press releases or publicly touted when an eatery opens runs contrary to the actual business registry in terms of who owns what. Now looking back, it seems even more odd.
So tell me why I should stay positive on this one where is N & E headed?
One of the most plugged-in and switched-on food mavens in town suggested that Anderson, David Fhima, and Eric Austin should all open a restaurant together called Cataclysm. Cracked me up. I think we get Hecker and Petters to finance the deal and start taking reservations
And am I the only person truly let down by the lack of interesting new edible offerings at the State Fair this year?