Nick and Eddie: the New Neighborhood Hangout

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

To create the California-inspired portion of the menu, Vranian installed a mesquite grill in the kitchen, which sends lovely scents into the dining room. The complicated process of feeding and raking its 800-degree charcoal fire (Vranian calls it "a Zen thing") is worth the work, as it imparts a smoky char to otherwise straightforward steaks and fish specials. The grilled duck is especially magic, paired perfectly with a side of wild rice, hominy, and sweet potato, which would be a killer contribution to any Thanksgiving dinner.

The entrées are all $21 or less, but it's easy to graze even more affordably. Pair a salad with a plate of gnocchi—hollow puffs made like tiny, savory éclairs—or a plate of toasts spread with chicken liver pâté, its steely richness balanced by watercress and bits of bacon. For four bucks, there's a generous bowl of borscht, which starts with a base of beef-cheek braising liquid, beets, and cabbage, and finishes with a whirl of dill, sour cream, and a kick of smoked paprika and chili. Appetizers generally run between $5 and $8.

There were only a few dishes I wouldn't order again. The pork with creamy polenta and roast vegetables was rather unassertive. The whitefish salad (served with potato pancakes) tasted good, but if I'd wanted to pick out the bones myself I would have made it at home. And the risotto, which I ordered twice, had hardly any flavor, as if every ingredient it contained (mushroom stock, various vegetables, pistachios, tangerine oil) had somehow caused a mysterious chemical reaction in which each flavor canceled out another.

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

Location Info

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Nick and Eddie

1612 Harmon Place
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Restaurant > Fusion

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

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The desserts, on the other hand, could be ordered over and over again, between the homemade chocolate Ho-Ho, the butterscotch pudding, and the ginger cake, which is one of the best I've ever tasted. Jessica Anderson, who was the baker behind Bakery on Grand, counters the spicy burn of fresh ginger with a dollop of tangy crème fraîche, a slather of caramel sauce, and a dusting of powdered sugar. If you skip dessert—though it's not recommended—you can sample her sweets when the check comes accompanied by dollhouse-cute cookies (hope she's been making meringues).

Interestingly, Vranian tends to downplay the role of his food—"Everyone's thinking too much about this stuff," he says. "Just eat it."—and says that he's more interested in creating an inclusive neighborhood hangout. A place, as I see it, with some of the same energy that used to flow through the Loring and the also-arty New French Café, Doug's former "post office" when he'd hitchhike back to Minneapolis from New York. ("It's the first place I would go," he says. "I'd leave a card there to let people know where I was staying.")

While the crowd at Nick and Eddie has a funky, arty feel, it's inclusive enough for those who engage with art from a board member's perspective. One night, when I visited, it seemed as welcome a place for two guys with scruffy beards and hoodies having a platonic man-date at the bar, as it was to those having a romantic one. For every guy lugging an instrument case, it seemed, there was one carrying a baby bassinette. That's what differentiates Nick and Eddie from the Loring: What it lacks in edginess, it makes up for in egalitarianism. Yet it possesses a haunting sense of familiarity that makes people want to be there. (Perhaps it's the old New French bartender behind the counter, or the music on the stereo, which I found to have ever-hummable melodies, though I don't think I recognized one tune.) If you wait around long enough, it seems, everyone you know will eventually show up, be it your ex-girlfriend, mother, or dental hygienist.

My last visit, for a delicious chicken hash lunch, confirmed that Nick and Eddie had become the city's new arty hangout. I was about to pay the check when who should arrive but the aging Loring/New French fixture Scott Seekins. Sporting his signature black suit, black shock of hair, and Harry Potter glasses, Seekins carried a painting under his arm—a self-portrait of himself marrying Britney Spears. Doug Anderson walked around the restaurant, holding the painting against the wall, trying to decide where to place it. I was confident he would find a spot, just as he had for the rest of us. 

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