A spread of snacks at the new Bluestem Bar & Table
There has been a lot of internal moving and shaking on the block of Lyndale Avenue at 26th Street. French Meadow Bakery first sold off its commercial bakery business, rendering a whole lot of space suddenly available. Then they made the controversial move of buying neighbors and parking-lot sparring buddies, the historic CC Club. Now, they've opened Bluestem Bar & Table. We stopped in for a first bite.
You can enter the restaurant either through the dedicated side entrance by the parking lot or through French Meadow. The room is filled with organic touches, birch, and stone accents. The centerpiece is the shimmering aquamarine-colored bar. This space is definitely all done up for date night. We bellied up for a couple of cold beverages and small snacks.
In addition to the extensive wine list, filled with organic and biodynamic choices, Bluestem also has a well-selected list of beers. While the beer was exactly as expected, we were disappointed by our first foray into the wine list, with a red that had a jug-wine flavor. When we shared our disappointment with the bartender, she quickly brought a different glass. The prosecco was slightly sweet, but cool and effervescent.
The first snack we ordered was an organic white popcorn that was supposed to have a cheddar cheese topping, but we could find no trace of cheese. It might have been that we were visiting on a particularly humid day, but it also tasted stale. We paid $4 for dry popcorn that can be had for free at Mortimer's down the street (within a starkly different decor).
A fried egg sandwich was a pile of competing flavors, an overabundance of harissa, pesto, egg, and bacon on caraway rye bread that tasted -- confoundingly -- fishy.
Disappointment was palpable until the pimento cheese croquettes ($8) arrived.
A crusty exterior belied the rich and creamy filling of that Southern snack food favorite. Creamy orange cheese was studded with ever-so-slightly spicy pimento. Paired with a sip of that prosecco, it was heavenly.
Classic tartine, the French open-faced sandwiches, were available with several toppings ($10). The favorite was the house-cured salmon. Delicate fish topped with classic accoutrement of capers, cucumber, and red onion atop crunchy bread was a light, lovely bite.
The menu has many other dishes worth exploring. While it wasn't love at first bite, there is promise in those croquettes.
Bluestem Bar & Table
2610 Lyndale Ave. S., MinneapolisWebsite