Heartland now open in new Market House digs

So far, the Hot Dish hasn't made a big deal about Heartland's move from St. Claire and Fairview to its new Lowertown digs. There was supposed to be a bigger dining room, an adjacent food market, a more bustling location, and so on...okay, cool, great, sure. But now that Heartland officially opened in its new Market House location (across from the St. Paul farmers' market) last week, it seems like an appropriate time to remark on what a big deal this is for the St. Paul dining scene.

For years, Heartland has been a critical part of St. Paul's efforts to keep pace with Minneapolis's generally more ambitious dining scene: Chef Lenny Russo, a James Beard nominee, has been showcasing the region's best foodstuffs since well before the term locavore was coined and sustainable eating became a mainstream concern. The new Lowertown location seems to add the appropriate gravitas to the work that Russo is doing.

I won't be visiting the 1902 Market House space for a few weeks (...down, girl!), but photos of all the exposed brick and wood beams and soaring ceilings and glassed atrium roof look gorgeous. Heartland purchased the space, which has roughly five times the square footage of the old restaurant, so the owners won't have to worry about landlord challenges and were able to create a layout that includes an open kitchen, a display window to watch the meat cutting and charcuterie making, a lounge-bar, three chef's tables, and banquet/meeting rooms in addition to a dining room. Whew!

In late August, expect the restaurant's Farm Direct Market to open. It will sell all the ingredients found in the restaurant's kitchen as well as value-added products made in house, including charcuterie, stocks, and preserves. The whole project looks to be something of a shrine to the Midwest's edible bounty, and it couldn't have arrived at a better time.

Heartland 289 East Fifth Street Saint Paul 651.699.3536

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