Talk Of The Town

A trifecta of impending restaurant openings, and one departure

Like most Minnesotans, I recently took one of my precious, fleeting, God-given days on this earth and used it to drive a ridiculous distance to a store about the size of the world-feeding potato field it replaced. Once inside, I enjoyed comparing various file cabinets that had been made in China with glue, dust, staples, and plastic veneer in a way meant to recall the glories of the British Empire, or the hand-labor apex of pre-War America. I stood there and considered how much of my daily labor would be translated into purchases that would start as a compromise and turn swiftly to disintegrating rubbish. It was such a depressing moment, it and spoke so eloquently of a culture at the tail end of all natural resources where a shell game of easy credit fuels a global circle-jerk of lack of accountability, that I concluded that God, personally and with amazing specificity, hath directly commanded unto me to leave my filing on the floor.

Later it occurred to me that I could just publish some of the information I've been hoarding. And so, without further ado, news!


Midtown revival: David Vlach is executive chef of the reinvented Town Talk Diner
Raoul Benavides
Midtown revival: David Vlach is executive chef of the reinvented Town Talk Diner

Location Info


Town Talk Diner

2707 1/2 E. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Seward/ Longfellow/ Minnehaha

Talkin' Bout Town Talk: Remember the good old days, when all the cars had fins, all the girls' hair was up in beehives, and all the malted milkshakes were health food for growing boys? Me neither. Nonetheless, I can't wait for the rebirth of the dear, long-departed Town Talk Diner. Yes, Minneapolis's most beloved and most photographed abandoned restaurant is about to light up anew, as...the Town Talk Diner. Not the old one, the new one.

While the name will be exactly the same, everything else should be exactly different: The restaurant is the first by three young partners with more fine-dining experience than any other group of Gen-X/Gen-Yers I can think of: Tim Niver (the sweet, slick former general manager of the Minneapolis Aquavit), Aaron Johnson (onetime restaurant and bar manager of Cosmos, the Le Meridien hotel restaurant), and chef David Vlach, who spent two years working at California's beyond-legendary French Laundry and cooked at Levain for Stewart Woodman in that restaurant's opening days. These three young-uns, who have more rarefied, ultra-fine-dining experience than you'll find in many of our local white-tablecloth hot spots, are trading in an obvious future in squab and mother-of-pearl caviar spoons for a less obvious one in burgers, malts, "canned beer and hard-core American food," as Niver told me.

Canned beer? From people who emerge straight from the world of kitchen-steeped fresh wasabi-aquavit and cauliflower panna cotta? Well, there will be bottled beer too, but I think it's safe to say you can expect a beverage program as ambitious as the ones at the big-ticket restaurants downtown, but built along everyday south Minneapolis lines. Think $3 and $4 everyday picnic wines by the glass, as well as homemade Cherry Coke floats (don't ask me, I don't know how that'll work either) and, for dessert, a few shakes and malts made with (don't tell the kids!) special grownups-only ingredients, like orange vodka in the Dreamsicles.

"The general idea we're working with is, good and tasty, but also light and lively," explains Niver. To wit, options on the opening dinner menu will include crowd-pleasers like smoked-tomato soup with a grilled cheddar-cheese sandwich, as well as more highfalutin, but still down-home, choices like a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with endive jam and cherry sauce.

If you remember the old itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny Town Talk space, you should know that the new diner will have an additional attached dining room, bringing the total seat count to about 80. "We're hoping that this will be the kind of place that people can come into three times a week and not break the bank," says Niver. "It will also have great, well-trained service. Hopefully people will sit there and think, I can't believe we're getting this incredible level of service in a diner."

The new Town Talk is hoping to open in mid-August; keep an eye out for the big sign--when it's lit up, that will be your chance to see what our youngest generation of up-and-comers can do when they pay for the griddle, and thus get to decide what to do with it. (TOWN TALK DINER, 2707 1/2 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612.722.1312;


Natty, Nifty Nouveau Nordeast: Do not shed a single tear for the linen industry. While the new generation on the South Side may be taking a bold turn away from white tablecloths, the new generation in Northeast will be boldly flourishing them. I speak here of Fugaise, a restaurant that's scheduled to open this fall right across Hennepin Avenue from Surdyk's. Fugaise will be brought to us by an actual family, Don Saunders, the well-reviewed chef de cuisine from À Rebours, and his business partner and sister Robin Ryan. Will Thanksgiving dinner at the Saunderses' ever be the same? Probably not, now that the kids will be too exhausted to cook or perhaps even to eat, but one family's losses in cranberry consumption will be nothing compared to the benefits reaped by every other family in the area: Ahoy, neighbors, your first bona fide Champagne-and-caviar restaurant is coming!

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