More coffee-shops-with-benefits: Cafe Oliver
Even though Cafe Oliver replaced Acadia months ago, it's still advertising the change with an ad-hoc banner covering up the previous tenant's name on the bright blue awning. I realize signage isn't cheap (or when it is, you get things like this ), but the first impression it makes is of a lack of committment, and I'd like see Oliver stick around.
Inside, the most noticable change to the space is the removal of the wall between the cafe and the performance space. The choice nicely opens things up, but also makes the place look uncomfortably empty if it's sparsely populated, as it was when I visited.
Oliver has all-day hours, so you can have a Peace coffee and a pastry in the morning or a glass of Etica fair-trade wine at night. I tried a couple of the sandwiches, which are put together with more thought than typical coffee shop/cafe fare. And while I thought the lemon juice added an odd tang to the ham-and-havarti sandwich, the rest of the flavors--Granny Smith apples, honey nut cream cheese--made it much more interesting than you'd expect for counter-service cuisine. I also tried a tasty cup of soup and a rich, fudgy brownie which came from south-metro fave Denny's Bakery.
While Oliver's fare didn't necessarily inspire me to break into song ("Food, glorious, food..."), it's quite good for what it is. My only other suggestion for Oliver would be that it try to develop a stronger identity--sports theme, visual arts gallery, hangout for the goth or glbt communities--something to give the space as much personality as its energetic owner:
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Minneapolis & St. Paul dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.