The Twin Cities in Minnesota will always be referred to as home. However, when I moved out of state 6 years ago; the culinary scene was amateur, which is putting it nicely.
As the job market has progressively become better each year, people have flocked to the area, especially since the cost of living remains relatively low versus wages. Also, Minnesota is home to a number large corporations, such as: General Mills, Target and 3M.
Along with the strong job growth came a younger demographic with disposable income and very few trendy restaurants and bars to spend that cash.
WARNING: from here on, every picture will make your hunger exponentially grow.
There are very few things that folks in Minnesota look forward to more than summer. Spending those weeks on the Land of 10,000 Lakes is part of the appeal. One of the Lake Minnetonka cornerstone restaurants is Maynards. Feel free to dock up your boat and head straight into the venue.
The Firecracker Shrimp Tacos stole the show within our group. Portions in Minnesota are generous and very reasonably priced. Other signature options include a walleye sandwich (state fish), chicken nachos and save room for the fudge brownie sundae dessert.
One of most trendy restaurants in Tangletown (Minneapolis) is Revival, a place that transports you into the deep south. All sorts of fried goodness from chicken livers, pork rinds and even pigs ear.
Since the caloric intake simply cannot be enough with fried chicken; add some savory mac n cheese.
The second half of this article focuses on the talented folks, who made my experience in Minnesota memorable and surely will for future visitors.
Peter Plaehn (Sommelier)
Ironically, Peter and I share multiple industry friends. A couple things stood out during our conversation about a New Zealand wine producer (Kumeu River). We both share a deep passion for wine, but Peter’s desire to expose Minnesotans to wine education is clear from his extensive wine list selections. Granted some of these are standard Marriott producers that are universal across properties but he takes significant pride in the art of a well rounded list to pair with food.
Everton Clarke (Executive Chef) & Laura Bartholomew (Executive Sous Chef)
These two are simply the best duo that I’ve seen in quite some time. Both of them have an extensive history with Marriott properties, which includes international properties as well. Their focus with Cedar + Stone Urban Table is to leverage “Minnesota’s natural surroundings and relationships with farmers within 200 miles. Cedar + Stone creates a vibrant dining experience that is not only fresh, delicious and unique, but true to its local roots. Relish in a dynamic farm to table Minneapolis experience.”
Everton is originally from the Bay Area and I selfishly would like him to return.
The primary reason that these two are a special pair; attention to detail and they are progressively looking to take a modern approach with historical favorites. In addition, they are incredibly personable folks.
A perfect example of that are the cheese curds. An overnight process drying Frank’s Red Hot sauce that is integrated the next day. The result, mind shattering taste especially with the side of blue cheese. Cheese curds have long been a Minnesota staple from our neighbors to the east (it starts with a W), but this local favorite has been entirely reinvented.
When the chefs insisted on their signature 12 hour slow cooked short rib; who am I to argue. I typically refrain from ribs because of the chewy texture and fat versus meat ratio. It’s a good sign when the knife wasn’t necessary. This meat fell off the bone moments before plating and is 7 oz of pure meat. The new menu name should be: Heaven on a Plate.
Last, but certainly not least. Chef Paul Lynch, who is very well known in the Twin Cities because of his farm to table pioneering efforts within the area. He’s responsible for opening both Radisson Blu Firelake restaurants and most recently Urbana Craeft Kitchen. With a hyper focus on showcasing Scandinavian favorites with a modern twist; there’s something on the menu for everyone, which happens to change 6 times per year. A number of the featured summer ingredients come from the sustainable garden on site at the Hyatt Regency Bloomington.
Pictured below are the Duck & Crimini Meatballs with root vegetable mash, brussels sprout slaw and lingonberry preserve. An incredible balance of sweet and savory that pairs nice with a Sauvignon Blanc.
The Twin Cities has more to offer than tax free shopping at the Mall of America. These exceptional restaurants and more can be found within the Zipkick app.