Is the North Loop prepping to colonize Mars?
No, that’s the Freehouse solving Minnesota's winter patio woes. In early December, the Blue Plate-owned restaurant erected a trio of transparent domes at its doorstep on Washington Avenue. Within a week or so, the Longfellow Grill will follow suit.
Each holds up to eight guests who huddle around low tables for swilling cocktails, or sit in higher seats if they're settling in for full meals. As late afternoon turns into evening and fire pits blaze just outside their zippered doors, a modest string of white lights blooms into a full-on glow, adding an extra air of hygge.
Inside these pods, patrons can snuggle into chairs lined in tasteful “fur” while ducking glittery twigs and pine cones strung from the bubbles’ highest points. Even on the coldest day (which, of course, we were there to experience), the air inside was toasty thanks to space heaters dialed to just the right temp, and dreaded condensation drips were kept to a minimum.
Though the Freehouse’s full food and drink menu can be ordered from the domes, they’ve also developed a separate menu tailored specifically to guests who’ve sequestered themselves from the main restaurant.
This specialty menu offers snacks in shareable portions, including options like the “Rugged Platter” ($64.99), which features approximately 20 wings, four cheeseburger sliders, a bushel of roasted Brussels sprouts, and four buffalo chicken sliders, the latter of which were pillage-worthy good.
In the realm of drinks, if you’re going for flavor look for a grapefruit negroni called the Hand Warmer, and a Poinsettia (cranberry, rosemary, and prosecco) if you prefer style over substance.
These whimsical winter domes can be rented—by you!—by the hour. Michelle DiMuzio, event manager for the Freehouse, says weekend slots are filling fast and weekdays remain easier to come by. Interested parties should call the restaurant directly for pricing info and reservations, but here’s the short version: There’s a minimum per hour you must spend to rent a dome, and it’s reasonable, especially when split between your group of friends.
DiMuzio made no mention of just how long these domes will be up… probably because winter may never end.
701 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis