The critics were out and all over the place this week as City Pages' Bridgette Reinsmoen hits up the tartly named Mattie's on Main and finds herself seduced by the food and drink there. The Star Tribune's Rick Nelson marveled at the changing face of Eat Street and found comfort in the dishes inside the Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen. Meanwhile Jess Flemming of the Pioneer Press digs into the meatiness at Libertine.
First, let's head on down to St. Anthony Main, where the new Mattie's on Main opened in the former Kikugawa space earlier this year. Owned by the same team as nearby Wilde Roast Cafe, the restaurant name was inspired by a brothel owner who supposedly did business in the area.
Reinsmoen describes the food as "elevated bar food with some fine-dining flourishes." The crispy lefse nachos were "summery delight," and the cream cheese wontons (so often a staple of fine dining) were not quite as crispy. She crowns the Monte Cristo dippers "new best State Fair dish not served at the State Fair."
Not all was quite so rapturous. "The Mama-San pizza, topped with hoisin-marinated pulled pork, scallions, and chuck fu slaw (cabbage with a rice vinegar dressing), had all the taste notes right but the pieces just didn't hold together on a crust."
Over on Eat Street, Rick Nelson is inspired by the story of owners Danielle and Chris Bjorling who are living their dream at the Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen. With the help of Kickstarter, a history of baking and a solid business plan the duo opened their shop at 2515 Nicollet Ave. S. in Minneapolis. He writes, "The restaurant shines in the a.m., and not just because the soothing setting is the antithesis of the cramped, boisterous coffeehouse culture. The slim menu hits all the right chords." House made English muffins are toasted and packed with "fluffy scrambled eggs crisscrossed with crisp bacon, spinach with a juicy grilled tomato slice." He goes on to say that the hand pies are even better. Plus, they regard the humble yogurt parfait with "the utmost respect."
It seems Nelson's only quibble is consistency. "Pizzas, with their just-bordering-on-sourdough crust, were marvelously crisp-chewy on one visit, drearily drab the next." Plus, bacon on the chevre-fig one would rock our collective worlds.
All the while the Bjorlings "make their work appear effortless, even though it's anything but."
In Uptown, Jess Flemming dug her teeth into a first look at the meat-centric menu at Libertine, noting that the menu is so carnivore friendly that the dishes are broken out by species. Tim McKee's new concept, owned by Parasole, boasts a menu of lesser known cuts like feather steak and a lamb saddle chop.
Her first impressions seem good with casino charbroiled oysters, "which were topped with crisp bacon and bread crumbs. The oysters were tender and luscious." She also found the feather steak pleasantly chewy, "An herby marrow butter added a complexity that might make it our go-to steak when we're in the mood for red meat."
Her group ordered the bacon chop as almost an afterthought and declared, "It was so huge it became dessert — smoky, juicy, meaty dessert." They paired all the dishes with "fantastic craft cocktails" from local star barman Johnny Michaels.
· Mattie's On Main [City Pages]
· Copper Hen Eatery and Cakery [Star Tribune]
· Libertine [Pioneer Press]
· Copper Hen Image [Facebook]
Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen. [Photo: Facebook]