Lamenting the loss of Heidi's and Blackbird...


I was out of town when fire destroyed Heidi's, Blackbird, and several other businesses at 50th and Bryant in south Minneapolis--but it was the first piece of news relayed by my airport chauffeur. Everyone in the local foodie community has spent the past few days discussing and lamenting the losses and I've been scrambling to figure out what this means for this year's Best Of picks.

From Gail Mollner and Chris Stevens's Blackbird, which opened in 2007, I'm going to miss all the funky, gothic-looking pairs of antlers mounted on the wall and their 2-5 p.m. "tidbit time" for reduced-priced snacking. Favorite dishes over the years have included the crawfish hotdish (where else, in the Twin Cities, pray tell, could one find crawfish hotdish?!?), the carrot cake with the goat cheese frosting, and the Longhorn beef brisket sandwich with provolone, horseradish mayo, and caramelized onions.

From Heidi's, the brainchild of Stewart and Heidi Woodman and Frank Thorpe, which opened a few months after Blackbird, I'm going to miss some of the best meals I have ever eaten in Minneapolis, including such tasty, creative, and inspired dishes as the bouquet-style butter lettuce salad, the turnip ravioli with pea shoots, the Asian-style braised short ribs with spaetzle, the viscous drinking chocolate, and perhaps best of all: The Shefzilla Surprises!

A restaurant may lose its physical space, but its soul is its staff. Here's to hoping that both restaurants may soon be reincarnated.