Last year's boom of 100 or so new restaurants was exciting indeed, but any time one talks of boom, the next talk is of bubble, and then bust.
With each passing day of the new year, we seem to hear news of another closing. Only three weeks into 2015, already five spots have shuttered. A little obit for each, in passing order:
See also: 10 Restaurants That Bit the Dust in 2014
Tim McKee and Josh Thoma's once-explosive tapas collaboration had been humping along without their involvement in recent years, like a flamenco dancer who'd lost her fire. As diners, we were no longer interested in the price of admission.
McKee and company hosted a little Solera revival menu at La Belle Vie last week, and diners were treated to old favorites like ham and cheese croquetas; snails in chorizo and sherry; and scallops a la plancha. The general consensus was if these treats were still available, the big blue building would still be alive and well. We hope something as original and delicious as it once was will take over this prime downtown real estate.
Once name-chef Philip Dorwart exited this sleek New American restaurant, so did the dining public. While Dorwart and pastry chef Sun Cowles wowed with their inventive takes on American classics, the beautiful Shea-designed space that was able to seat more than 200 was difficult to fill when they resorted to pedestrian burgers and sandwiches. The bar program continued to thrive with loyal regulars, but it seems the siren song of real estate development cash was more tempting for ownership than the notion of hanging on to what amounted to an expensive-to-maintain neighborhood bar.
Maybe because of its situation in the middle of the block, what should have been a welcome addition to the neighborhood vibe of Uptown -- a little bakery storefront-- just simply got forgotten about. Evidently, we need decent parking for that impulse buy of a sack of morning donuts. We hope the same fate won't befall the excellent Solomon's Bake Shop, which will now have to fulfill our neighborhood pastry jones.
The second, new and improved Uptown location for this decent bistro with emphasis on accessibility to wine just didn't cut it. Owner Katie Greeman told Eater she is moving on from the restaurant game.
Greeman has been through a lot in recent years, including the untimely death of her spouse. We wish her lots of luck, and are looking forward to Tinto Cocina + Cantina, which will reportedly be moving into the space. Owner Rebecca Illingworth is formerly of Lowertown's Bin Wine Bar. Illingworth is a Mexico City native, and the restaurant will focus on Latin cuisine.
The latest shuttering seems perhaps the longest overdue. We think we heard the funeral dirge when Steven Brown (Tilia) exited way back in 2008. His modern takes on regional Midwestern cuisine made heads swivel, such as a wild rice soup that involved puffing the rice so it was as fun to eat as Sugar Smacks.
But great chefs often falter at the grind of the hotel restaurant game -- those 2 a.m. room service demands for grilled cheese sandwiches are enough to wear down even the hardiest of souls. Once he moved on, there was no real reason to look to it for anything other than perhaps room service, and even that is a tough sell -- The Hotel Ivy that houses Porter and Frye usually looks and feels as empty and soulless as complimentary continental breakfast. Stephanie March reports that the entire property will be overhauled, including the restaurant.
Update: Solomon's Bakery Uptown has also closed. Uptowners wanting a pastry fix can travel to their St. Paul location at 1085 Grand Avenue.
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