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Former Pane Vino Dolce chef David Hahne returns to the Twin Cities with Polpo

Polpo means octopus in Italian. Polpo Minneapolis will serve octopus, and other Italian seafoody delights.

Polpo means octopus in Italian. Polpo Minneapolis will serve octopus, and other Italian seafoody delights.

If you were to write the complete history of Twin Cities dining, starting with, oh I don't know, Murray's and Jax Cafe, you'd get to the really juicy bits when it came time for the chapter on Pane Vino Dolce. The stories, by now, have become the stuff of legend (the place closed about eight years ago), many of them things I cannot possibly mention here (their motto was "Take it to the edge, don't break the law, and give the customers what they want.") But moreover, it was well known, and well loved, because of its transporting attention to detail, opened by a pair of guys (David Hahne's then-partner was Carlos Macy) with a deep love of how things were done in humble but wonderful Italian neighborhood eateries, and a deep love of sharing those things with their own south Minneapolis neighbors who relied on the place as a sort of second home.

Then, the pair opened Cave Vin, with the same mindset only this time it was France — cozy, neighborhoody, not flashy, good but affordable wine-y, delicious in the "I could eat here three times a week" way. 

Cave Vin is still open, though under other ownership (they eventually sold both restaurants). But still, visit there for at least a cursory glimpse into the kind of thing that Heine, now back in town after more than a decade on the West Coast, has in mind for Polpo, his upcoming cafe right across the street from the infamous, ill-fated Pane Vino Dolce. 

While he's still raising funds, the chef has already got the plans drawn up by Smart Associates, he's got access to the space (in the former La Mac Cleaners space at 816 W. 50th St.), and he's got a concept. This time, it's a Venetian cafe, or a bacaro, a humble restaurant serving simple food and good wine.  And (wouldn't you know it?) a heavy emphasis on crudo — which will bring our local restaurants with a heavy emphasis on crudo to around a half dozen in as many months. 

At the open house (it's currently still a raw space), Hahne served raw tuna with a cherry gastrique, jalapeño, and fresh herbs; he served Kumamoto oysters and sous vide octopus a la plancha and monkfish in charmoula with parsley, green onion and coriander. Seafood is very important to the concept, and he says the place will be dinner only, but not really, because happy hour will start around 1:30, and if you're living that kind of life, you'll go in and start drinking wine in the afternoon, and get a little smattering of discounted crudo and just linger and think about how you're really, truly living the good life, just like they do in Venice. 

He's aiming for a winter/spring opening, which just might coincide with the time that Steven Brown will be opening St. Genevieve, right across the street from Polpo in the old Lynn on Bryant space, which would have been right next door to Pane Vino Dolce! (And if you know your restaurant pedigree really, really well, you know that Pane was also later the really, really ill-fated Heidi's space that burned to the ground.) 

But yeah, St. Genevieve will be Brown's second restaurant, the idea for which is inspired by French buvettes, the sort of little neighborhoody place in France where people hang out all day and maybe seamlessly switch from coffee to wine at some nebulous hour and nibble little snacks and sit back and think how they're really, really living the good life.  Wow! Are we gonna need to rename south Minneapolis "New Europe"? Think how the curb appeal is gonna go up, up, up in this already perfect, grand old neighborhood that you can't afford to live in.  But probably, you'll be able to afford to eat here, because Hahne and Brown are all about making the good life, and while the best things in life are free, the next best ones — a good glass of wine in the afternoon and something great to nibble — are affordable enough.  Polpo, coming winter/spring