The Linden Hills neighborhood is getting another fantastic neighborhood cafe that utilizes some of the quirky, beautiful architecture and fresh, local food.The new Harriet Brassiere specializes in breakfast and opened recently in the former Cafe Twenty Eight space. We stopped by to check out the food and ask what their plans are for the future.
The sweet spot for summer brunch will be the patio outside the former firehouse.
The kitchen is run by Fernando Silvo, who comes from French Meadow. The brunch menu is balanced between sweet, savory, breakfast and lunch. There's quiche Lorraine, Belgian waffles, crab Benedict, daily scones, and tres leches cake.
The coffee is brewed with the care and strength I need delivered to my doorstep on a Sunday morning, the sort of toasty elixir that can clear any fog. Even better, the refills are plentiful.
One of the owners, Alain Lenne, worked at area restaurants like Meritage before buying his own place, La Belle Crepe off Eighth and Nicollet in downtown Minneapolis. He happily greets guests and revels in the joys of his new business venture. He chats about their three-acre farm by Lakeville, where many of the ingredients are being grown.
Those ingredients shine in the refreshing dishes that utilize them. The pea soup is chilled, bright, rich, and wholly satisfying. Garnished with a curlicue tendril and smoked trout roe, it's as sweet and new as spring daybreak.
The other knockout dish we sampled was the multilayered, savory scone, laced with spinach and Northern Lights blue cheese. It was so light and buttery it defies the conventional impression of the crumbly dry scone.
For entrees, the Szechuan-style tofu hash was hard to walk away from. Tantalizing with a fiery chili oil and salty black bean sauce, the dish is composed of fried tofu strips and yucca tossed with red bell pepper and green chiles.
Unfortunately, the crawfish and grits suffered from a texture and heat deficiency. Hopefully, it will move on the Minnesota-mild spice level, because the crawfish is a sadly underutilized crustacean.
The desserts, such as the signature tres leches cake and a strawberry rhubarb crumble, were just barely sweet, and well balanced. The cake tasted like a pile of fresh whipped cream with a dusting of toasted coconut on top.
The dinner menu is coming soon, and we were given a sneak peek. It's shaping up to nicely complement the ambition seen at brunch. Lenne also talked about how excited he is to reveal the wine list and bring in the beer from Harriet Brewery. They hope to add dinner service near the end of the month when the liquor license is in place.
All in all, it looks to be a lovely complement to those well-known neighbors of theirs. Lucky Linden Hills.