Friday, January 25, 2013 at 12:51 p.m.
Parka: open for business and ready to shine
What do you get when we you combine one of the best coffee shops
in the cities with one of the best bakeries
and then put one of the most innovative chefs
in the kitchen? You get Parka, the new collaborative coffee shop/bistro in South Minneapolis's Longfellow neighborhood. The area is being revitalized with new restaurants and shops. Parka shares space with Forage, a shop that sells consignment, artist originals, and all kind of really cool, unique items. We stopped by to see how it all works.
Dogwood coffee and Rustica bittersweet chocolate cookie: breakfast of champions
The baristas are familiar faces to fans of Dogwood Coffee. They are brewing the serious beans and beautiful beverages we have come to expect. In the morning the pastry case is filled with cookies and baked delights from Rustica. On a nearby shelf, loaves of freshly baked breads are stacked, as are bags of Dogwood beans.
Getting cozy inside Parka
Parka fills in the early afternoon with young families from the neighborhood. A shelf is filled with toys to occupy the littlest diners (with a little disinfectant nearby, which I heard a couple of young mom's happily remark on.)
The menu is filled with items that sound familiar: smoked whitefish, meatloaf sandwich, rabbit meatball hoagie. Well, maybe not all familiar. The presentation is anything but ordinary. Smoked whitefish arrives tucked in a little tin set on a piece of slate. A squiggle of white cream cheese is adorned with some tiny green caviar-like droplets, topped with house-made crackers. The fish was beautifully textured with a soft, gentle smoke. A nearby diner closed his eyes and suppressed a little shudder of pleasure with his first bite.
The tots are wonderfully munchable and utterly cravable, packed with ham and dill pickles before being fried. It's served alongside a cream cheese "whiz," which is actually a foam of the very best order. The plate is dotted with sauces and jellies, and each taste begs another.
The tender rabbit meatballs are made all the more luscious after being wrapped in the Rustica hoagie buns, chewy on the outside, toasted crisp on the inside. Hearty, satisfying, and easy lunch comfort food, served with beet chips dusted with vinegar powder.
A crispy fried fish filet is served with pineapple, slivers of jalapeno, and their version of tartar sauce. The dish is so sunny it's just about enough to wipe away the gray winter days.
The initial excited response of the neighborhood means that new employees are scrambling to find their footing, and a lot of hungry bodies are waiting near the door. With what they're delivering, it's been worth the wait.
There is much more to discover inside Parka. Although, we were happy to see that if we wanted to buy those chic little water glasses of theirs, all we have to do is wander over to Forage next door.
4021 E. Lake S., Minneapolis