Brie Roland on the new Harriet Brasserie, coming soon to Linden Hills
Just out of frame is a very sharp knife.
Image by beaudry filmworks
Harriet Brasserie is coming to Linden Hills. The new restaurant will be housed in an old firehouse and will focus on dishes that are multicultural in influence and locally farmed. The owners of the Harriet Brasserie, Alain Lenne, Helen Hamman, and Fernando Silvo, who will also serve as executive chef, hope to have the place up and running by mid-May. Dustin Thompson, who many might recognize from his work at Tilia, will serve as the chef de cuisine and farmer.
Brie Roland, operations manager and part-time farmer for the brasserie, answered five questions for the Hot Dish.
1. What drew you to this particular space/neighborhood?
It just felt right. So homey and comfortable. I'm sure most people have the same experience when coming to Linden Hills, which probably stems from its history of being an out-of-the way, small-town-in-the-big-city type thing. One of the other things was the building itself. It's an old firehouse, part of the historical registry, and was one of the first fully motorized firehouses in the area, which is crazy to think about. There are a few pictures floating around the web that show a fire truck driving through the front, where our windows are now. It's kind of surreal. The high tin ceilings and the small but comfortable dining room were all things that brought us in. We are doing a fair amount of remodeling, and I think it is going to look stellar. It's almost done, and honestly, I can't wait.
2. What types of food will your restaurant focus on?
We have a few cultures coming together here. But, I want to stress that we aren't a fusion restaurant. I think the idea of fusion dredges up certain things for people that we don't necessarily want to focus on. We will do simple food really well. It will be colorful and fresh and focus on the seasons. There will be foods from Fernando's Italian and Brazilian heritage, and recipes from Alain's French grandmother. There will be quintessential Midwestern cuisine inspired by Dustin's Nordic farming roots. The thing about Brazil that I think is really cool, though I haven't been there--yet--is that it has such a mixture of cultures. You can look at things like the mortadella sandwich, which is a popular street food all over Brazil, and clearly see its Italian origins. But to a Brazilian, it's just Brazilian. That's how we want to view our menu. There are many influences, but ultimately, it is American, and Midwestern.
3. Imagine you are talking to my mother, who, bless her heart, doesn't know a lot about food. How would you describe your menu?
Seasonally inspired. Locally grown foods. Colorful, multicultural influence. You can come get an awesome bowl of soup, or a crepe ... or you can throw down and get a ton of small plates to share, or any one of our five daily special entrees. That is part of what it means to be a "brasserie." That someone could come in and get a shot of espresso and a scone, or sit down and have a meal. We have what you need.
4. What will make this restaurant unique?
I think the people involved and the fact that we will be growing a lot of our own food. We have a farm in the south metro that we are working on and will be providing a lot of our produce throughout the growing season.
5. What is one question you wish I would have asked?
"Why service? Why the restaurant business? Don't you have a degree?"
Well, yes, I went to college and got a degree in Peace, Conflict, and Global Studies. I studied gender, politics, history, and writing, and when I graduated, I reconciled my expensive education with the reality of possibly never getting a job that "required" my degree. Looking back on my time at school, I wouldn't trade it for anything, even if I went to a psychic and she told me I would end up in the restaurant business. I think it makes perfect sense, actually. I love making people happy. I love serving them nourishing food and guiding them through an experience that could totally change their day, or week. I love introducing people to new things, new ideas. I love the community that surrounds food, the closeness that comes from sharing a meal with someone. My friends and I have often talked about how eating is one of the most intimate things we do on a daily basis, and we--in the restaurant industry--must treat that reality with reverence.
The Harriet Brasserie
2724 W. 43rd St., Minneapolis
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