Libertine restaurant closes, owners done with Uptown

Libertine's menu changed a lot since it opened in 2014, though its owner says the neighborhood changed, too.

Libertine's menu changed a lot since it opened in 2014, though its owner says the neighborhood changed, too. Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

Just after noon on Sunday, the Facebook account for Libertine was damning the drizzly weather's affect on its rooftop's appeal.

Fans were instead invited to "bottomless mimosas" in the Calhoun Square restaurant's main room. "Come watch the game and drink," the post reads.

Not long after the Vikings kicked off around 3:30 p.m. that day, the page had an abrupt update: Libertine had "closed its doors for good," a new post read. "Thank you to all who worked, supported and enjoyed themselves at the Uptown Cafeteria and Libertine over the past ten years."

Libertine opened to fanfare in 2014, with a menu crafted by the legendary former La Belle Vie chef Tim McKee. McKee had served as a consultant for Parasole Restaurant Holdings (Manny's Steakhouse, Chino Latino, and others). In Libertine, he established a meat-forward menu of steaks, lamb, pork -- even a "whiskey luge" shot poured down a big ol' beef bone and into your gullet.

McKee left Parasole's employ in 2017 to join the Fish Guys and open Octo Fishbar in St. Paul. Prior to its sudden closure, Libertine's menu had... evolved, so to speak. A recent version of dinner offerings finds a list of sandwiches, burgers, and wraps; weekend diners were met with a list of must-have brunch items, and little else. The restaurant also introduced games, attempting to capitalize on a hot bar trend.

Libertine's menu wasn't the only thing that looks different, to hear owner Phil Roberts tell it.

"Uptown has changed a lot," Roberts tells the Pioneer Press. "We last tried Libertine with a wonderful menu, but Uptown just wanted to drink more than they wanted to dine."

With the lease up and little interest in reviving a space that "just didn't work well," the exit means Calhoun Square will be without a Parasole restaurant for the first time in 35 years. After a 25-year run of Figlio there, the group opened Il Gatto, Uptown Cafeteria, and then Libertine, the latter two of which lasted five years each.

Roberts said he doesn't know what might be next for the multi-story space. Any outstanding gift cards for Libertine can be redeemed at other Parasole restaurants.