Minneapolis on the Hudson

Jean Georges sets up shop across from Solera while Soho hipsters attempt recapture of Loring Park

Pork satay, by the way, is one of the appetizers on the provisional menu at our Chambers Kitchen by Jean Georges—specifically pork satay with both green and ripe mango, crystallized tamarind, and cashews. Vongerichten loves Asian flavors, especially Vietnamese ones, but also Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian spices. Another provisional appetizer is chicken samosas with a cilantro-yogurt dipping sauce. I say provisional because, as of this writing, the place isn't yet open, but will be before this issue hits the stands, and the powers that be have warned me repeatedly that the restaurant may change everything in the last moments. Other provisional menu items include a char-grilled chicken with kumquat-lemongrass dressing and silken potatoes, and black sea bass crusted in spices and served in a bowl of sweet and sour broth.

How much will it cost? Hard to say exactly, but I had a phone interview with the general manager, Robert Bonner, formerly of the Capital Grille down the street, and he told me they're aiming for prices a little lower than the top of the market. You can probably expect to spend $35 on three courses, which I'm guessing means $8-ish desserts and appetizers and $18-ish entrees. I also spoke with Joshua Nudd, the executive chef, who just moved here, and is living in the hotel, after a career spent seaside in California and Hawaii—check him for signs of cracking this February.

The main reason it's hard to say exactly what Chambers Kitchen by Jean Georges will be is because Bonner and Nudd seemed to say that the restaurant would open as one thing and slowly evolve to another. They plan to open with a grab bag of recipes from various Jean Georges restaurants. Bonner said that the breakfast menu in the lounge is almost exactly the one from Mercer Kitchen; Nudd told me that the dinner menu is culled from other Jean Georges restaurants, "a little bit 66, a little Perry Street, a little Vong, a lot Spice Market"—but will eventually change to reflect both the tastes of the locals diners, the availability of local ingredients and produce, and, in time and with approval from the home office, Chef Nudd's own vision.

The opening wine program too, is "provisional." Ditto for signature cocktails like the Thyme Vodka Lemonade, available both in the ground-floor bar and up overhead in the "Red White and Fucking Blue Bar" (for real, that's the bar's true name), a rooftop lounge with plans to have DJ music played at levels that permit normal conversation, and serve little snacks till 2:00 a.m. (every day except Sunday and Monday, probably). The bar is named for a piece of art that writes out the memorable name in neon. Yes, that's art, it's contemporary art, and if you don't like it you can go suck on a Duchampian found object.

Really, about the only thing that the main Minneapolis folks seemed sure of was that Chambers owner Ralph Burnet's art collection of contemporary (mostly controversial, mostly British) art is jaw-dropping and fantabulous. I heard much about the large gorilla in the courtyard bar, the video installations every 17 feet in the public hallways, the original art in the suites, the mounted head (I forget of whom or what) above the registration area. I also heard about the four rev areas—you know, rev areas. Where the rev(enue) comes from. It's going to be major, major, major. (Chambers Kitchen by Jean Georges, 901 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612.767.6999; www.chambersminneapolis.com. Projected restaurant hours are 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with light food served in the bar till perhaps 2:00 a.m.)

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