This week Red Rabbit’s second location, the Nighthawks second-coming, and Fhima’s City Center revamp of the Forum space will all open imminently. Here is the refresher on what’s going on and which restaurant to visit first.
Fhima’s 40 South 7th Street, Minneapolis
David Fhima is the latest restauranteur to take a turn inside the historic restaurant attached to City Center in downtown Minneapolis. What was once the Forum/Goodfellows/Il Foro will open again on Friday September 28. Very few changes are allowed to be made to the space itself because of its historical significance. Curtains have been drawn around “kissing booths” on one side of the bar to provide some intimacy and reduce the cold nature of the dining room. The art deco glory of the room is all spiffed up and ready to shine again.
Sean Jones, Bar He’s worked with Bittercube and was a longtime fixture behind Minneapolis’ Parlour Bar. He’s pulling out all the stops on the cocktail menu making this a sure bet for downtown after-work-drink seekers.
Patrick Atanalian, Kitchen The longtime culinary force behind Sanctuary in East Town. The Frenchman revels in playing with unexpected flavors and textures.
David Fhima, Owner/Kitchen A well-known name in Twin Cities culinary circles for restaurants like Faces, Fhima’s, Minneapolis Café and his work with the Lifetime Fitness cafes. Fans will be heartened to note that his famous tagine will certainly make an appearance on the menu.
Opening Date: Friday, September 28
Red Rabbit Saint Paul, 788 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul
“We want you to be able to close your eyes and whether you’re in Minneapolis or Saint Paul be able to tell you’re in Red Rabbit just by the taste,” said owner Luke Shimp. This is the second outpost of the Italian restaurant which Shimp paired with chef Todd MacDonald to create, with the original in Minneapolis’ North Loop. What was once the notorious bar/restaurant the Wild Onion has become a casual eatery with the removal of the dancefloor and a revamp of the bar. Large booths have been added and crystal chandeliers have been hung.
Ian Lowther, bar A cocktail bible includes several low proof and no proof drinks along with an extensive bar menu. The cocktail books are as fun to read as ever and the coasters come with a little cocktail recipe.
Todd MacDonald, kitchen This lauded chef returned to Minneapolis a few years ago after racking up accolades for his Italian fine dining around the country. Expect a kitchen that’s masterful with pasta and pizzas and without even a hint of pretension.
Luke Shimp, owner Shimp rose came up through the Blue Plate Company, group of restaurants before branching out on his own with the successful Red Cow mini chain of burger pubs. He is also an avid wine fan. So all of his restaurant have way above the usual wine offerings along with the beer selection expected of an upscale neighborhood pub.
Nighthawks 3753 Nicollet Avenue South, Minneapolis
The neighborhood diner is getting a touch of a facelift and a new direction under chef Max Thompson. Thompson steps into the void that was left when Nighthawk’s original owner/chef departed nearly two years ago. Among the changes there will be a full liquor license available when it returns. What was was once just beer and wine will include all the boozes and an exciting drink menu made by neighbors Five Watt.
Max Thompson, Kitchen The chef is also the owner of Stewart’s in St. Paul, that underwent a major transformation under his ownership into a popular spot for a burger and Korean-spiced fries. Thompson promises some major burger upgrades, but don’t worry, the pancakes are coming back.
Five Watt, Bar The fantastic coffee shop just a couple doors down from Nighthawks has already been turning out stunner cocktails in coffee form, but now the team will branch out into make spiked drinks for the new bar. The list won’t be novelty, but classic cocktails, done well at affordable prices.
Opening date: Tuesday October 3