Bradstreet Crafthouse recreates cocktail culture

Sample signature drinks from the '20s made with original ingredients

The result of these efforts is that drinks tend to be as novel and well-balanced as the signature Bradstreet, a frothy mix of Jim Beam Rye, lemon, jasmine syrup, egg whites, and bitters. The flavors stay light, yet are alluring enough to retain interest until the last of the accompanying sidecar is finished. And despite all the labor that goes into the drinks—it takes about two minutes to shape each of those ice spheres—the specialty cocktails are all priced at a reasonable $10. While a $7 nonalcoholic beverage called Art of the Crafts came in a glass so tiny it looked like a toy in the hands of a man, its subtle mix of ginger, lime, and jasmine was tasty enough to stand up to its alcoholic brethren. Bradstreet's novel wine list is also priced extremely affordably—a $3 pour that's not Carlo Rossi?—perhaps to save the bartenders' shoulders from repetitive stress injuries.

Once all that cocktailian education starts to make you hungry, chef Jesse Spitzack offers a globally inspired small-plates menu, which he created with the help of Graves' recently departed executive chef Stephen Trojahn. Spitzack presents his upscale, tapas-for-gastronomes on tableware as sleek and white as gallery walls. The plates are all less than $10, but most portions are small, so you'll need several to amass a full dinner.

The wait staff typically does a nice job of explaining each plate as it's delivered. Some don't require much, such as plates of thin-sliced serrano or speck ham garnished with mustard or pickled beet. Or the super-crisp polenta fries meant to be double-dipped in a roasted-pepper pesto and parsley-mint gremolata. Other plates, such as the foie gras bon bons, call for more description. The liver is wrapped in thin potato strips and fried (they taste like a potato-chip ball with a luxurious center), balanced by kumquat marmalade and apple chips. There are only two bon bons per plate, so if you're not dining by yourself, I'd recommend more than one order.

Parting is such sweet sorrow: The Juliet and Romeo
Jana Freiband
Parting is such sweet sorrow: The Juliet and Romeo
An old-fashioned with a newfangled ice cube
Jana Freiband
An old-fashioned with a newfangled ice cube

Location Info

Map

Bradstreet Craftshouse

601 First Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Details

BRADSTREET CRAFTSHOUSE
601 First Ave. N., Minneapolis
612.312.1821; graves601hotel.com
small plates $3-$10

Several of Spitzack's plates put a haute twist on street food or bar snacks, including peppery-hot duck wings with piña colada mayonnaise, lamb ribs with soy-sesame glaze, and oyster spring rolls served with Parmesan sorbet (cool in theory, weird in reality). Sliders come in three variations—salmon, beef, or lamb—the best of which were the spicy lamb with tzatziki sauce. (The grass-fed meat seemed a little lean for those accustomed to the butter-bombs at Lurcat, and the salmon felt mismatched with the homemade ketchup and pickled onion condiments.)

Among the seafood selections, I especially liked the pan-seared scallops paired with a crispy croquette and bitter orange sauce. The crab-potato cakes were better than most, perfectly complemented with strips of roasted poblano pepper and lemon confit. And the ceviche was an unusual yet likeable preparation, dressed with a spicy green curry and sweet watermelon foam, then topped with crisp bits of fried skin. Vegetarians don't have a lot of options, so they probably won't want to share the Portobello salad with fried garlic chips or the tempura vegetables.

Desserts bear the creative imprint of their creator, Cosmos restaurant's pastry chef Khanh Tran, whose bold flavor pairings shine in dishes like the flourless chocolate cake with sesame ice cream and sesame seed tuille. I liked the concept of the banana tapioca pudding, but its execution was off: The large pearls had uncooked, chalky centers, and the grayish, barely sweet pudding reminded me of orphanage gruel; the accompanying sticky rice balls were dry and crunchy. Lacking the creamy, sweet coconut flavor I'd anticipated, the dish tasted hopelessly...vegan. But the Moscato Gelee Float was a tiny tumbler of perfection: a wine Jell-O shot topped with fresh raspberries, a scoop of lemon gelato, and a spritz of foamy limeade soda that was as refreshing as a summer swim.

Spitzack says his team is in the process of paring down the menu a bit—which seems like a good idea considering the variety of ingredients and prep work required for all the dishes. I'd cut the chicken soup with rice noodles, as its broth tasted only of heat, with none of the depth of a pho. Ditto the grilled calamari, which wasn't as smoky or citrusy as I'd hoped. And while the pasta nachos were interesting—deep-fried strips that puff up like a pizza crust—after they cooled the chips turned tough, and the melted cheese became as goopy as oil-based paint.

Those unsuccessful plates didn't mar the experience as much as the restaurant's location-related logistical challenges. Parking and using the facilities were significant inconveniences (not to mention expensive—the valet costs $15). When my friend returned from the closest restroom—up on the fourth floor, next to Cosmos—she pointed to my Wild Turkey cocktail and remarked, "If you had two of those and had to hurl, you'd never make it."

That's not exactly the best way to experience Bradstreet. Instead, I'd recommend thinking of the bar as a sushi counter, taking a seat at one of the stools, and handing yourself over, omakase style. And when you discover a drink you particularly love, pay it forward at Bradstreet's cute little typewriter desk. Buy a cocktail for a friend, then type a note, tack it to the bulletin board, and tell them to come by and redeem it. 

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