We’ve been following Dumpling since they started doing farmers markets and Cook St. Paul pop-ups a couple of years ago. The pan-Asian chefs have since snagged a south Minneapolis storefront, and over the weekend they opened their doors to the public. They’re now serving dinner every night but Tuesday, offering their takes on ramen, banh mi, bao, and of course their namesake crispy dumplings.
I popped into the medium-sized space over the weekend and it’s simple and attractive, with modern lighting and touches. It's reminiscent of an old-school Chinese family restaurant (which indeed it is -- they took the space over from Ming's Palace, a 20-year Chinese institution). It looks like the place is poised to be a successful next-generation Asian restaurant for a neighborhood that could use just such a spot. They also serve a short list of beer and wine, plus low-proof cocktails. Brunch begins on November 26.
4004 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis
Last week saw the opening of Punch Bowl Social, an adult gaming paradise (bowling, vintage video games, private karaoke, lots more) that also happens to have a grown-up restaurant and bar (think superfood grain bowls and Moscow mules, not pizza and Diet Coke).
Now along comes Smaaash, opening December 14 at the Mall of America. The concept, based in India, is described as “a one-pit stop for all your entertainment.” Only this time, think multi-level go-cart tracks, virtual reality, simulated cricket, and all kinds of other crazy shit. Here, too, the food goes beyond Chuck E. Cheese, promising a locally sourced and sustainable menu and craft beer. Menu peeks include the somewhat nebulous promise of “Greek Greens, Thai Speciality, Italian Classics, and Mexican Bites."
Opens December 14
Mall of America, 4th floor
60 E. Broadway, Bloomington
The David Fhima restaurant at the western edge of Mears Park (it “faces” the park, get it?) is getting a much needed makeover. The spot opened in 2010 as an ambitious restaurant/bakery/bottle shop that never took off in a major way.
They’ll remodel the place into a more manageable and elegant bistro, serving French-influenced American cooking. There's no name for the new place yet, but menu sneak peeks include pot roast, rotisserie chicken, and excellent desserts, reports the Pioneer Press. Faces closes on December 31, and the projected re-opening date is around April. Fhima is also the new corporate chef for Target Center.
373 N. Sibley St., St. Paul
Soul Lao Pop-Up at Cook St. Paul
Cook St. Paul is of course famous for opening its doors to up-and-comers and letting them have a training-wheels-style practice run at the restaurant biz. (Dumpling, above, did just that at Cook prior to opening its own spot in Longfellow over the weekend.)
Head over to Cook on December 3 when Soul Lao will be serving its take on traditional Laotian cuisine including oxtail pho, other noodle soups, and Laotion beef meatballs.
Cook St. Paul
1124 Payne Ave., St. Paul