Some we will miss and to others we flip a collective bird. But to all we say: Good on you for giving it a go. Out with the old, in with the new, and here's to an even more delicious 2015.
10. Figlio 2.0
When they shuttered the original Figlio at the corner of Lake and Hennepin, we would have liked to know what Parasole owners were smoking. Sure, it was in dire need of a makeover -- pink and black hasn't been a cool color combo since, well, never, and the scribbled mess of a logo was like something a drunken toddler conceived on the back of a cocktail napkin. But, still. It was the place we all went when we were cool. When we were young and beautiful and thin. It's where we met our boyfriend, and it's where we broke up with him and met our other boyfriend. The cruise bar was perfect for ogling hotties, and when you got tired of all that, you just ordered up a fried calamari and a pineapple-upside-down-cake martini. You almost couldn't blame Kaskaid Hospitality for buying up the name and the concept, but we all knew it wasn't going to play in the suburbs. A Figlio in West End? Why not take a flamingo and fling it into a frozen lake? Goodbye forever, Figlio.
Some meat just stinks, even when it's got "fresh" stamped on the package. We don't mind a little cultural appropriation as long as the adaptations are given some due respect. But really, why cover a song if you're just going to botch the original? With isims like "Ya'll come back now, ya hear?!" graffitied across the facade, the place was cringe-worthy before we even crossed the threshold to sample its Southern-inspired menu. And then once we did, things got no better -- glacial service, grainy banana pudding, bland brisket, and cold ribs. They went crazy with marketing that everything was made from scratch, in-house, as if that were some sort of thing that every restaurant worth its salt wasn't already doing. Toss in a little ear-splitting oontz-oontz music and a lot of dude-bros for seasoning. It didn't even last a year. Boneyard, we hardly knew ye, and that's fine with us.
8. Citizen Cafe
It's always a heartbreak to see indie storefronts go under -- especially in under-served neighborhoods and ones with as much heart and soul as Citizen. The husband-and-wife team of Citizen served up a strong cup of coffee, a house ground burger, and a mean brunch to the people of Standish, almost as a community service, and they were rewarded for it with a fierce and loyal following. But this is a tough business to be in, and even when you're doing everything right, it doesn't always work out. Good luck to them in all their future endeavors. [page]
7. Bar Abilene
There wasn't anything truly great or authentic about the place, but it still held a strangely special place in our hearts. For when your hankering for nachos would just not be sated any other way, for their particularly good and unique take on buffalo wings, for when you needed to power down a drink before a movie at the Lagoon, for when your thirst for two-for-one tequila shots was getting the better of you. This corner of Uptown needs Mexican -- especially Mexican that's not taking itself too seriously. Tex-Mex as drinking base, as hangover cure, as comfort food. Cheesy, fatty, greasy, boozy, delicious. Adios, partner.
6. Social House
What Uptown does not need more of is insipid sushi concepts with raw fish of dubious quality, PYT servers, and an identity crisis about whether it's a sushi bar or a nightclub. Thanks to the closing of Social House, which seems to be a doomed corner for whoever is brave enough to move in, Uptown's sushi rolls will be a little safer from dreaded mayonnaise drowning.
5. The Gray House
Chef/owner Ian Gray is one of those super passionate young folks who you absolutely must root for, focused on all the right stuff: seasonality, locavorism, farm freshness, and curiosity for playing around with unusual stuff. He received particular attention from his way with goat, so it's probably no accident that (due in part to financial difficulties with his divorce) he shuttered the restaurant, but then took it on the road with the food truck the Curious Goat. We were curious about the restaurant too, but often found it shuttered at posted hours, and our visits were sometimes plagued with strange service and hit-or-miss food (the pastas were knee-buckling but the hops butter tasted like bong water). We're looking forward to seeing him get sea legs over the next season or two on the road, and then reopening, brick-and-mortar style, sometime soon.
4. The Lynn on Bryant
By all accounts, the Lynn was one of the most hotly anticipated restaurants to open in 2013, helmed by big-deal chef Peter Ireland, with his Daniel Bouloud and Tom Colicchio pedigree. And it was in that Bryant-Lyndale neighborhood where people of some means and good taste go to live the good life, but somewhat humbly so. Call it the Hamptons for the Minnesota Nice set. It should have survived as an institution. So why didn't it? We found the space to be strange -- absent a bar area and the lights jacked up too high to feel like lingering. And prices felt way too high; they even went on record publicly as adjusting them. But still, it had a family vibe to it and the food was good, if a bit fancy -- the kind of thing that meant to dazzle rather than comfort. We're calling this one "Right restaurant, wrong time and place."
3. Rye Deli
It was so very doomed from the beginning. Of course the whole world wants a good Eastern European deli in their neighborhood. We want it the way everyone wants a classic old bar, a train depot, and an Italian grandmother churning out fresh pasta at the local grocery. But these things are not just born. They're developed. They're nurtured out of a long and deep and careful pedigree. You do not just pluck some country club chef out of Boca Raton and tell him to start churning out world-class pastrami and corned beef. Just putting potato salad behind glass does not a delicatessen make, no matter how many Cel-Rays you display behind the counter. We hoped for Mile End, and in the end we got something barely better than a Bruegger's. At least we'll be able to drink away our sorrows at the upcoming Bradstreet Craftshouse taking its place.
2. Eat Street Buddha Kitchen
What is it about Asian fusion that smacks of so... 2005-ish? It's flip-phone era stuff -- like you want to kick back to some Missy Elliot and order up a flirtini to go with your Hawaiian roll, Peking duck sliders, and raw tuna pizza. "Enough already!" cried the good folks of Eat Street. "Its time for something fresher and better." And they got their wish while they crossed the street to Krung Thep.
1. Nye's Polonaise Room
It's technically not closed yet, but last month's announcement of its impending doom received so much public outcry and consternation it deserves a mention here. The owners plan to close Nye's sometime next year to make room for the inevitable condo building that will take its place. As much as we're collectively wringing our hands about its demise, the reality is that the building and foundation are old, and it would take a fortune to bring it back to its original state. Its a crumbling old warhorse of a place, a time capsule that's seen it all, and just like the world's finest cocktail waitresses, there comes a time to take off the orthopedic shoes and retire. You've got almost a year to get in your final polkas.
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