What do you get when you take a couple of La Belle Vie alums, including a chef who staged at the world-famous Noma, a vibrant Minneapolis neighborhood, a former laundromat, and the Replacements? You get the most buzzed-about new restaurant of the year, Heyday. They threw open their doors on Tuesday and we stopped by for a first bite.
The kitchen was overwhelmed by the love they received on their first night. After much Twitter buzz from their friends and family soft-opening nights, fans were excited to get a first taste. By the time we rolled in, everything seemed to have found an early groove.
Staff was attentive without hovering, easy-going but quick with a solid recommendation and a drink pour. The cocktail list has us anxious for the warm temps to stay. The Plus, Minus or Equal To is a smart take on a Manhattan with rum, sweet vermouth, and cherry bark vanilla bitters for $9. It's all smooth spirit with a pert, tart finish. Behind the bar is Britt Tracy, who was last seen pouring intoxicating elixirs at Borough.
The chilled blue mussels we ordered were cradled in the base of an earthenware bowl and covered with a soft pile of razor clam snow. The mussels themselves were swathed in strands of dill and mingling with cucumber pickles. Digging in was not unlike shoveling away the final drifts of snow to find a welcome spring beneath, and for $7 it was a perfect way to kick off our meal.
Wood covers almost every surface of the restaurant, from floor to ceiling to the old church pews that are holdovers from the former cafe. All the hard surfaces do give the dining room that boisterous noise level, but we had no problem carrying on a conversation.
The pork ribeye, an uncommon cut, was shellacked with a smoke-kissed malty glaze and utterly tender. Paired with snappy ramps and a sunflower butter mixed with salty seeds, it hit every note of a flavor symphony.
2700 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
Open daily from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.