"When I first started here, a lot of people came down here and expected Auriga food," Flicker told me. "But that's not fair to the owners of this restaurant—they want Mission to be Mission—and it's not fair to what Auriga was either, which was its own thing, unique in time and team. There were two guys who came to Auriga every Thursday night at 5:15 and sat at the same table. One night I saw them in the dining room here, went out and said hi, and they said, 'This isn't really our kind of place. We like smaller, more intimate restaurants.' And so I said, 'That's cool.' It's not my place to re-create Auriga, it's my job to try to make Mission the best it can be." To that end, Flicker told me, he's had a lot of trial and error: A cold smoked rib-eye, for instance, had Mission regulars calling it needlessly fatty, but once he took the same smoked rib-eye, sliced it, served it with truffled onions and smoked Carr Valley cheddar, the sandwich went over in a big way.
"I don't think any of us ever saw this resurgence in American retro-cuisine coming," Flicker told me, citing B.A.N.K., Harry's Food & Cocktails, and his own restaurant. "But I'm trying to embrace it and learn something new. I don't need to do a fancy fish special to cook well—I can make chicken and dumplings with the same amount of thought, integrity, and cooking skill I'd apply to a line-caught halibut fillet, even if they're different worlds of cuisine. But I think now is the time for me to learn some new business practices, heal, serve somebody else's vision." With half a year's perspective on the winter massacre, Flicker sees last year's disaster less as a cataclysm and more as a correction.
No chip on his shoulder, just a delicious burger: Steven Brown of Harry's
The pendulum swings both ways, he told me, and if you can survive on either side, you'll be better off in the long run. Here's hoping that this holds true for Minneapolis. In any event, we look to be on the cusp of a very exciting season for eating things that were, for a time, quite lost.