Corner Table, the little neighborhood bistro that could, is moving into roomier digs just down the street. However, they aren't abandoning their original space at 43rd and Nicollet Avenue. Instead, they have big plans to bring a taste of the South to Minneapolis. Yesterday we spoke with Nick Rancone and Thomas Boemer about all their great designs (along with co-owner Chenny Rancone). Here are the exclusive details.
We arrived at 4537 Nicollet Avenue, the former home of La Chaya Bistro, just down the street from Corner Table, to find the always dapper Nick Rancone holding open the door. "Welcome to the new Corner Table!" he greeted us. The restaurant space is full of warm wood and has much improved acoustics over the original space (which could get a bit boisterous when the room is full).
In another life, chef Thomas Boemer worked in construction, and they've teamed with his former employer to re-do the space. (Is there nothing this guy can't do?) It won't need much. They'll put in some new lighting, and they'll lower the bar height so guests will be able to keep that intimate relationship with Boemer and his chefs as they turn out elegant plates of food.
They're only planning to add a few more seats on the inside, but the outside area is a huge upgrade from Corner Table's previous space. They will have a gorgeously landscaped patio and plenty of parking in the adjacent lot along with ample on-street spaces. They'll also expand hours to include Monday night dinner service and a weekend brunch.
The menu will remain much the same as what fans have come to expect: comfort foods with refined technique and dazzling seasonal dishes made with sustainable ingredients. "We want to step up the polish," said Rancone, "but not lose the heart of the place."
But wait! There's more! The current home of Corner Table will also be transformed. The lowered ceilings will be replaced with the original tin and the kitchen will start kicking out some of the Southern classics that Boemer grew up with in South Carolina. That means there will be some spectacular fried chicken on our dining horizons. He's sourcing White Lily Flour to make biscuits and get that traditional crackling crisp crust on the bird.
Here's the juicy bit for those with gluten issues: They will also have a fryer dedicated solely to serving gluten-free fried chicken. Let's just say that one more time: gluten-free Southern-style, chef-prepared fried chicken.
Other dishes will include Lexington, Kentucky-style barbecue with hush puppies and your choice of red or white slaw, and a burger that utilizes their magical pork belly.
This new spot will be more casual and affordable. There will be sit-down and take-away service. "We want to do pre-packed picnic baskets for the neighborhood," added Rancone. "It's all about staying with this neighborhood, supporting the growth here. We love this area," he said.
"I remember when we first sat down two years ago to talk about what we wanted to do," Boemer added. "We had the exact same ideas. We knew what we wanted Corner Table to become and that was when we first talked about this other idea for a restaurant."
Their dreams are about to become our reality. Corner Table version 3.0 (for those keeping track) will open at its new address this spring -- possibly as early as March. The second, yet-to-be-christened spot should open for business this summer.