Bread & Pickle upgrades concessions at Lake Harriet

Barbette executive chef created the menu

Bread & Pickle upgrades concessions at Lake Harriet
Alma Guzman
The new concession emphasizes local: Even the ice cream is from Sonny's and Izzy's. See the slideshow.

Lake Harriet has been a city park for more than a century, but these days, as tattooed and spandex-clad parents push their off-road-ready jogger strollers past, it's hard to imagine early Minneapolitans riding horses or bicycling in petticoats around the same paths. No matter how the city's populace changes, Lake Harriet's beauty—its cool breezes, lazily drifting sailboats, and shimmering reflections—will remain an important community asset.

Until a few years ago, Minneapolis treated its park concessions like those of airports and stadiums: With a captive audience, there was little competition, and little reason to innovate. Prior to 2002, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board ran the Lake Harriet refectory without generating much income from its limited menu of hot dogs, ice cream, popcorn, and soda. But the installation of Tin Fish at Lake Calhoun in 2004 and Sea Salt in Minnehaha Falls the following year proved that a private operator with more ambitious food and beverage offerings could do substantial business—and boost park revenue, with operators paying the board a percentage of their gross revenue. By the end of 2008, Tin Fish and Sea Salt were helping city park concessions generate more than $200,000 in profit. The board believed that the Lake Harriet refectory wasn't reaching its full potential, and it put out a request for proposals.

Competition for the Lake Harriet contract was fierce, with several high-profile names in the mix, including such seasoned restaurateurs as Larry D'Amico of the D'Amico empire, Doug Flicker of Piccolo, Lowell Pickett of the Dakota, Supenn Harrison of Sawatdee, and Steven Brown, who now owns Tilia. Restaurateurs Kim and Kari Bartmann—the sisters behind Barbette, Bryant-Lake Bowl, and the Red Stag—won the bid with a concept called Bread & Pickle. In May, the refectory opened with expanded hours, offering food and beverage from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

Alma Guzman for City Pages
Alma Guzman

Location Info

Map

Bread & Pickle

4135 W. Lake Harriet Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Southwest Minneapolis

Details

Bread & Pickle
Lake Harriet Refectory; 4135 W. Lake Harriet Parkway, Minneapolis; 612.767.9009
Items $1-$9

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A key aspect of Kim Bartmann's plan was to leverage her experience running sustainability-minded operations (her other restaurants have incorporated LEED-certified construction techniques, composting programs, and local/organic ingredients, among other practices) to make Bread & Pickle a zero-waste operation. Environmental stewardship is, naturally, a core park value, and when the Lake Harriet Citizen's Advisory Council surveyed lake visitors about expanding the concessions, the potential for increased trash was cited as a primary concern.

While the typical quick-service eatery generates an inordinate amount of trash, with its plastic plates, Styrofoam clamshells, and the like, Bread & Pickle's sandwiches come wrapped in paper, and its beverages are served in biodegradable cups. Everything that comes out of the refectory's windows can be tossed in one of the restaurant's compost bins. Really. Everything. From the spoons to the straws to those last few French fries you didn't finish.

The eatery's eco-friendly policy requires a little more wherewithal on the part of both operators and customers. If Bread & Pickle wants to sell potato chips, Bartmann explains, she needs to track down a supplier that packages its product in compostable bags (she knows of only one, and they haven't been returning phone calls) or else portion chips into its own biodegradable, individual-serving bags. Due to concerns regarding plastic and transportation, Bartmann decided not to sell bottled water, a convenience to which quick-serve diners have become accustomed. As an alternative, Bread & Pickle offers reusable stainless steel bottles for $3—a money-losing price, Bartmann says—to fill with tap water. But if both parties can stay patient, flexible, and committed, Bread & Pickle is poised to be the greenest park concession in the country.

Barbette executive chef Kevin Kathman created the eatery's menu of American picnic fare using many locally sourced and organic ingredients from the network developed at Bartmann's other restaurants, including Fischer Farms pork, Larry Schultz eggs, and Kadejan poultry, among others. These premium ingredients can cost two to three times the price of commodity products, so Kathman says he's buying in bulk and using resources creatively to minimize the amount of that expense that's passed on to diners.

For breakfast, Bread & Pickle serves yogurt and granola, blueberry muffins, and lemon-ginger scones, as well as a breakfast sandwich that all the rest might model themselves after. A toasted English muffin is covered with melted cheddar, slices of lightly griddled ham, and a fried egg with a yolk just set into a golden yellow gel. It beats McDonald's Egg McMuffin by a landslide.

The rest of the day's menu consists of a few grill items, sandwiches, sides, popcorn, and ice cream supplied by local favorites Sonny's and Izzy's. Among the sandwiches, the hummus wrap is a perfect hot-weather meal—Holy Land hummus, yogurt sauce, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, and other vegetables (including zucchini and peppers once they're in season) are folded, burrito-style, in a spinach tortilla. At just $5.25, it's light on both the stomach and the wallet, and it won't negate a lakeside exercise routine.

Scratch-cooking sticklers might ding Bread & Pickle for not making its own hummus, but Kathman had to make a few concessions due to the eatery's tiny kitchen and high volume (Bartmann decided to use the space as-is for a season before considering expanding the kitchen into the building's breezeway). The staff is creating a commissary kitchen at the nearby Gigi's cafe, which Bartmann recently took over, but in the meantime, Kathman says, he's squeezing in prep work at the other restaurants whenever he can. (Sometimes that involves Kathman calling the closing chef at Barbette at 1 a.m. and asking him to put turkeys in the oven so he can swing by and pick up the roasted birds a few hours later.)

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4 comments
fkaJames
fkaJames

Like other commenters, we have been underwhelmed as well. The most interesting thing offered is the addition of truffle salt to popcorn - not exactly revolutionary. The rest of the food is about 20% overpriced and 100% unremarkable. We'll continue bringing our own picnic food to Lake Harriet for our weekly picnics there.

Edit: also, "the best thing that ever happened in a public park," really? Because it isn't even the best food in a public park within a 1 mile radius - that would be Tin Fish. Or the best food in any Minneapolis park - that would be Sea Salt in our home park at Minnehaha Falls. And I would venture that the best thing that ever happened at Lake Harriet was the building of the bandshell.

minneap
minneap

this was hardly anything to write about. the black bean burger was fair to poor. lettuce/tomato...same as like getting a burger at the old metrodome. fries were ok. friend ate separate meal and was really not impressed. pack a picnic and save your money for a place in south minneapolis that is worth $10.

Lutefiskmn
Lutefiskmn

Meh. The mister and I stopped in the other evening, and both of us thought it was nothing more than "fine".

Ben
Ben

Do they serve beer like Tin Fish and Sea Salt do?

 
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