The Bachelor Farmer celebrates the Nordic palate

Governor Dayton's sons open first-rate restaurant

In keeping with Scandinavian tastes, Berglund offers a vegetarian entrée of two poached eggs perched atop a summery mix of cherry tomatoes, leeks, and snap peas. It's certainly tasty, but the relation of the dish's $17 price tag to its ingredient cost will likely deter anybody who's working hard for the money.

Like the rest of the menu, desserts feel rooted in restraint, intended to round out a meal, not upstage it. An adorable stack of Swedish pancakes—they're like tiny crepes—is served with ice cream and lingonberries. Cultured dairy is popular in Nordic countries, and Berglund's frozen yogurt bests most of the stuff that's swirled out at local fro-yo shops. Paired with orange caramel and shortbread cookies, it feels decidedly more civilized than the usual crushed Oreo cookies and gummi bears.

The restaurant's European-focused wine list is heavy on French vintages from 2006-2010, and everything on it may be ordered by the half-bottle. The two remaining glasses are then listed on the dining room's chalkboard to be claimed by other drinkers. When my table requested a just-listed Vouvray one evening, our server immediately halted his plate collection and raced to the board to make sure we got it before someone else did. The system creates more by-the-glass offerings as a sort of low-tech alternative to the newly trendy pressurized gas-based preservation systems. It might not be as effective, but it adds to the dining experience's charm and sense of adventure.

Bachelor's dishes pay homage to Scandinavia without being bound by 
tradition
Sasha Landskov
Bachelor's dishes pay homage to Scandinavia without being bound by tradition
Sasha Landskov

But don't drink too much, because you're going to want to follow your meal—if you didn't already precede it—with a trip to the subterranean Marvel Bar. Head to the north side of the building, next to the Cedar Lake bicycle trail connection, and look for a door whose location suggests it's used only by kitchen workers taking out the trash. Go through that door, down the hall, and enter the purple one.

Marvel looks like a sophisticated speakeasy, with frenzied, mismatched patterns on the walls, carpets, and chairs. It's the underground lair of a team of bartenders who sometimes sport vests and fedoras and shake the drinks in energetic bursts. Their ice supply arrives weekly, in 300-pound blocks, and they chip it by hand with sharp metal picks. If you're seated at the counter, prepare to get hit by the shards.

The bar features the same list of classic cocktails served upstairs—Negroni, Manhattan, Aviation, among others, as well as the Old Fashioned with which Marvel's mixmaster, Pip Hanson, formerly of Café Maude, earned himself the job. The flip side of the menu includes a full list of Hanson's original concoctions. The bar offers just one thing to eat: $1 cups of Cheetos. (If you're on a date, don't fret. The snacks are delivered with moist towelettes to remove the orange powder from your fingertips.)

Marvel can feel more like an R&D lab than a run-of-the-mill bar, as every one of Hanson's original cocktails seems to contain at least one ingredient most drinkers have never encountered. Flavor combinations are often unlikely. For example, the Silverado blends tequila with Chartreuse, lime, grapefruit, horseradish, and coconut. (Unfortunately, the horseradish's bite made the drink taste like a margarita that uses a harsh, throat-burning tequila.)

But mostly Hanson's mixes connect—and then knock it out of the park. (And may knock you out, too. Be aware that Hanson tends to dispense with the usual soda-or-fruit-juice dilutions and blend straight alcohol.) Take the Deuce-Deuce, which mixes liquors that most Americans rarely drink—two bitters and two sweet vermouths—with rye whiskey. The blend is odd, rich, and bracing, with bright notes of citrus, undertones of chocolate, and several more mysterious flavors. It seems just the thing Mad Men's suave but self-loathing Don Draper would drink when he's brooding.

The Oliveto is altogether cheerier: a rounded tumbler of gin, lemon, and the sweet, vanilla-scented Licor 43, which takes on a creamy frothiness when shaken with egg white and olive oil—an ingredient that may very well be making its cocktail debut. If you're looking for something simpler, start with the Tomas Collins, a Scandinavian take on the Tom Collins, which marries aquavit with seltzer, lime, and a splash of pickle brine.

The bar, by the way, takes its name from the former owner's business, Marvel Rack, a manufacturer of wire cutters. The name of the restaurant upstairs was suggested by Eric and Andrew's mother. The brothers liked the way it referenced the kitchen's Nordic inspiration, via Garrison Keillor's archetypical Norwegian bachelor farmer, as well as its agricultural rooftop.

When I spoke with Andrew over the phone, I learned that he is, in fact, a bachelor—so I had to ask if crowds of singles had been flocking to the place, hoping for a chance to meet him. His awkward laugh suggested, perhaps, a little modest blushing. "Not that I can tell," he ventured before quipping, "but we'll take all the customers we can get."

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2 comments
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"Berglund offers a vegetarian entrée of two poached eggs perched atop a summery mix of cherry tomatoes, leeks, and snap peas."

i'm not vegetarian, but eggs = not vegetarian?

 
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