The Keg and Case plans for the former Schmidt brewery are heating up with the announcement that beer and ice cream have been added to the lineup (already including Five Watt Coffee, Hola Arepa and a new concept from Corner Table/Revival masterminds Nick Rancone and Thomas Boemer.) The Pioneer Press reports that Sweet Science Ice Cream will open a fancy little scoop shop on site. This is a huge move for the artisanal ice cream made by Ashlee Olds has only been available in a few retailers or at free tasting events. Plus, there will be beer once again made on site as Clutch Brewing sets up operation in the complex.
—Chef Donald Gonzalez, the one-time chef at Forepaugh's is poised to make a comeback. The Pioneer Press reports that he will consult on a restaurant in the Lowry Building in downtown St. Paul. The chef has been tapped by Madison Hospitality to help develop the concept and lead the kitchen. The restaurant group is known for its Lowertown meaty gem the Handsome Hog, the un-Google-able Public Kitchen and Bar and are part owners in Oxcart Alehouse and Fitzgerald's. According to the newspaper, the building has been vacant since 1982. The restaurant will seat 122 with more seats available on a rooftop patio. If all goes well, it will open this summer.
—Cochon 555, the national pork competition returns to the Twin Cities with a mostly new lineup of chefs set to compete. Last year's winner, chef Jorge Guzman of Surly will compete once again, alongside J.D. Fratzke from The Strip Club Meat & Fish and Saint Dinette; Justin Sutherland of Handsome Hog; Grae Nonas of Tullibee and Thomas Kim of The Rabbit Hole. The event will be held February 19 at the Loews Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. In addition to the meaty festivities, there will be a Punch Kings competition (bartenders yet to be announced), Somm smackdown, pop up butcher shop and a lot of bourbon for the drinking.
What there will not be this year is an Asian speakeasy pop up leading up to the event, a dinner that was ruined by some seriously insensitive costuming of a participant.
The event's goal is to raise awareness of heritage breed pork and support small farmers.
—If you haven't heard the Ladies Who Lunch weeping, then you might have missed that January 27th is the final day of service for Macy's Oak Room. The department store that was once the grand dame of downtown Minneapolis has withered under their care, and it's not a shock, but more akin to the sadness of watching someone die a drawn out death. While the 113 year old dining tradition might not have caught the flash and glamor of a new world, it was a beautiful place to imagine the glory days of Dayton's. We will miss those popovers and nostalgia. Rick Nelson at the Star Tribune gives the restaurant a fitting send off.
—In other closures, The Craftsman on East Lake Street is shuttering briefly. Stephanie March of Mpls./St. Paul Magazine reports that they are changing hands and will open back up again on January 21 with a daily lunch menu, but few other changes.
—Can Can Wonderland is now open. It's an indoor gaming operation as imagined by artists, so it's all kinds of cray in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood. By all accounts there's a lot of fun to be had from kooky mini-golf to pinball games along with a soda fountain manned by the ever-busy crew at Bittercube. Plus, they're serving fried food goodies.