Lake Street spot Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group is now shuttered for a quick turnaround reboot by Twin Cities chef Tim McKee (best known as the executive chef at La Belle Vie), who will open a new restaurant, Libertine, in its place, according to the Star Tribune's Rick Nelson. Rumors had been floating around about the possible shutter/reboot for a little while now, ever since Parasole—the restaurant group that owns Cafeteria as well as Burger Jones, Salut, Chino Latino, and several other Twin Cities restaurants)—sent out a survey asking diners about naming options for a new Uptown spot (according to a commenter, the survey was very closely targeting Uptowners in their 20s and 30s and wouldn't let a 45-year-old fill it out).
Apparently the name Libertine was the winner, and the new concept will open on July 16 after a quick renovation on Cafeteria's street-level space; the uber-popular rooftop Sky Bar will stay open as is during the renovations.
McKee told Nelson lots of details about what to expect on Libertine's menu. The restaurant will be "functioning similar to a steakhouse" (but maybe not quite a steakhouse?), and McKee says it will be somewhere that "people in their twenties and thirties can get a modern steakhouse experience for a reasonable price."
How will the prices stay "reasonable"? The menu won't be including any high-priced fillet, but will introduce classic butcher cuts like the feather blade, the onglet, the point, and a grilled short-rib. In other words, more affordable cuts that require a little more muscle. McKee told Nelson: "They have great flavor, you're just going to have to chew a little more." Good thing those twenty and thirty-year-olds have strong young teeth.
The menu will also include a pork section (a ham steak and a Berkshire pork chop), burgers (of course), fried chicken (more fried chicken!), oysters (raw, charbroiled, fried, or served in shots), and a crispy pig's ear starter. Barman-about-town Johnny Michaels (who recently left La Belle Vie) will be designing the cocktails.
In addition to lots more menu and renovation details, the article has one more particularly interesting piece of info: Cafeteria was not a failure, McKee says, and in fact did $3.5 million in sales last year. He tells Nelson: "...that's winning by all kinds of measures. But this is an expensive location, and maybe $3.5 million isn't enough. We're viewing this as an opportunity, to do something meaningful and special."
· Tim McKee Opening Libertine in Uptown [Star Tribune]
· All Coverage of Cafeteria [Eater MPLS]
· All Coverage of Tim McKee [Eater MPLS]