Modern Café will celebrate its 20th anniversary in pop-up style

Who wouldn't want to celebrate breaking out of their teenage years? From August 5-9, Northeast's Modern Café will mark its 20th anniversary with pop-ups, DJs, cameos by the chefs of Modern's past, and a special celebratory menu.

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The first four days of the event will offer Modern Cafe fans a prix fixe menu created by former and current chefs.

"We're scrapping the entire menu and we're just going to have fun and try some new things," says owner Jim Grell.

Among those involved in the revamped menu are Matt Morgan of Bachelor Farmer, Mike Phillips of Red Table Meats, Scott Pampuch formerly of Corner Table, and Modern Café's current sous chef, Elle Wesenberg. We like what we're hearing so far about this prix fixe: Mike Phillips will make his braised pork shanks with borlotti beans; Matt Morgan is putting a twist on his walleye egg rolls with napa cabbage and a Midwestern-style kimchee; Scott Pampuch will serve a potato gnocchi with a brown butter Hollandaise and pork confit.

At 20, the restaurant itself may not be old enough to have a drink, but the festivities will include plenty of cocktails worthy of such a momentous, weeklong occasion. The five-course prix fixe menu runs from August 5-8 and is priced at $55. On August 9, the festivities end with local music and a chicken- and ribs-focused feast.

"It's been a weird, wild rush of emotion," says Grell of his 20 years in business. "We recently ran into [a photo] from the first couple of weeks we were open. Nobody knew who I was and nobody would give me any money and I couldn't get any cooks. So a lot of times I would just cook by myself and my wife would wait tables. We have a 20-year-old son, who was like six months old when we opened the place, and we have pictures of him sitting in his highchair on the line next to me cooking. It was crazy."

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