Nick and Eddie: the New Neighborhood Hangout

An inclusive crowd with a funky, arty feel makes this the place to be

NICK AND EDDIE
1612 Harmon Place, Minneapolis
612.486.5800
www.nickandeddie.com

I don't know about you, but I was never really cool enough to hang out at the old Loring Café, Minneapolis's arty mosh pit of creative cross-pollination. Sure, I could look the part: Doc Marten boots, striped tights, red velvet garage-sale dress. And I could follow the drill: Bushwhack through the potted-plant jungle, order a glass of red wine, lay claim to an overstuffed couch, and discuss who was showing at what gallery. But I couldn't really ever get comfortable. I always feared that the people who made the Loring the Loring—the goths, the riot girls, the men wearing skirts—could tell that I wasn't one of them. They knew I'd come from a place where everybody played sports and went to church. And for that, they would resent me.

Still, the Loring had its allure, especially on those evenings when a saxophonist crooned in the corner, even as the old brick building slowly crumbled around him. When you stepped into that big, crowded room with the gorgeous picture windows, you embarked on a night of possibility, never knowing if you'd end the evening being cast in a play, going home with a busboy, or retrieving your car from the impound lot (the latter being the only scenario I personally experienced).

Each entrée comes with a view of Loring Park
Bill Kelley
Each entrée comes with a view of Loring Park

Location Info

Map

Nick and Eddie

1612 Harmon Place
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Restaurant > Fusion

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

In the six years since the Loring went dark, the boho-mojo dispersed, and the city has lacked a definitive artists' boîte. A few pioneering hipsters headed to gentrifying Northeast, while others still hang out at Café Lurcat, the Loring's replacement. Backed by D'Amico and partners, Lurcat is a nice enough place, but the scene has always felt a little stiff by comparison, lacking the Loring's heart, its throb, and charisma.

I was reminiscing about the misfit Loring on my way to Nick and Eddie, which recently moved into a space next to Joe's Garage. While the city's recent crop of celebrity-chef, institution-backed restaurants has injected new life into the dining scene, it's also served as a reminder of the value of quirkier, more personality-driven eateries. When I approached the entrance to Nick and Eddie, I noticed the sidewalk was no longer clean and dry, as it was in front of Lurcat. Instead, the pavement was banked by a curb of scuzzy gray snow, strewn with cigarette butts, scattered like birdseed. It was the only time in my life I've smiled at such a sight. It reminded me of the Loring.

Inside, Nick and Eddie is unexpectedly white, with tall ceilings. The bar and dining room, which were created by combining the former homes of Loring Grill and Exile clothing shop, feel very modern, except for a few retro details, like the flocked wallpaper (go ahead, touch it) and the garage door against the back alley. Diners can gaze omnisciently over the dining room from the loft, or steal away from the crowds at the tiny table tucked under the staircase.

Nick and Eddie is a partnership between Jessica Anderson, who started Bakery on Grand with her husband, Doug (who recently owned A Rebours), and chef Steve Vranian, who has worked at a bunch of local restaurants, including California Café, Murray's, and NorthCoast. Vranian and Doug Anderson worked together in the mid-1980s at Jeremiah Tower's notable Stars restaurant in San Francisco, and reconnected when both had moved to the Twin Cities. "Doug called me when Bakery on Grand first opened," Vranian recalls. "He said, 'Do you remember me?' and 'Do you have any cooks that can work tonight?'"

While the Andersons had success with neighborhood bistro fare at Bakery on Grand and fine dining at A Rebours, and Vranian is known for his California cuisine, the style of the new restaurant is more difficult to pin down. Named after a New York institution called Nick and Eddie where Doug once worked as a server, the emphasis seems less about a specific cuisine style than a sense of hospitality. After financial troubles closed A Rebours, Doug—the guy with the long, scraggly hair and owly spectacles—has come out of the kitchen to again work front-of-the-house, overseeing the room between copious cups of coffee and cigarettes.

Vranian's midwinter menu is mostly comforting fare—part French bistro, part middle-Europe deli fare, part California cuisine—made interesting again. Take, for example, the beef cheeks, a dish you don't see too often, as people tend to get squeamish about "face meat." (Taquerias sometimes serve it as barbacoa de cabeza, derived from a traditional way of cooking a whole cow's head by wrapping it in burlap and cooking it in a dirt pit for half a day—and you thought tossing a steak on the grill was manly). Anyway, these beef cheeks are marinated overnight, browned, and then braised to taste like a rich, moist meat butter, a combination of rib meat and bone marrow, that's balanced by the sweetness of puréed parsnips. If the sauce, a veal-stock reduction, hadn't had the eerie consistency of Elmer's glue, I might have sworn off pot roast for good. My favorite dish was another brasserie riff: salmon poached in apple cider, served with browned spaetzle, sauerkraut, and Brussels sprouts, a pairing likely never made before and likely never to be made again, but nevertheless fantastic.

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