Tablehopping: Sapor Cafe and Bar & St. Paul Bagelry and Pizza Nea
Sapor Cafe and Bar just can't get a break. When they opened their elegant, globally influenced American bistro in the summer of 2001 they knew that road construction in that section of the Warehouse District was imminent, says co-owner Julie Steenerson, but they didn't know that it would seem never to end, and that once it did end (last Thanksgiving, she says) the ghost of construction would haunt them forevermore. "We still get phone calls all the time," sighed Steenerson when I talked to her on the phone recently. "'Are you running construction specials? Like when everything's half-price?'" No, no they're not. They're charging much, much less.
Drop in now to pay tiny little prices for little tiny plates: Sapor just debuted a bar and patio menu they're calling "One Bite, Two Bites": half a dozen ever-changing little plates of things like their famed crisp wasabi potato cake ($2), a hot Gruyère-filled pastry ($2), a little skewer of grilled tuna, roasted eggplant, and bell pepper in an anchovy vinaigrette ($1.50), and a house-made bread, cheese, and prosciutto plate ($3.50). The items are available in Sapor's elegant bar or out on the new patio, a raised platform looking out on a nicely urban landscape of warehouses and such. "Regulars have been coming in and ordering one of everything," says Steenerson, "picking their favorites and doubling up." Chef and co-owner Tanya Siebenaler says she hopes to use the wee li'l bar menu to test ideas and have fun with food. She's been making her name these past few years as a scrupulous and creative chef, and with these prices, I'm predicting lots of new fans. There are drink specials to go with that menu, too: $3.50 gets you a Bell's Ale or Three Floyd's Alpha King Pale Ale; $5.50 nets a glass of Spanish wine. Of course, if you feel like spending more, there's Sapor's top-rate wine and beer list to choose from.
Right now the bar and patio are open from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and till 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, but Steenerson says that if the business grows, they'll stay open later. Remember how much you liked the New French bar patio? Here's your chance to make a new one, but with a much, much nicer bathroom. And remember this little insider tip: Imaginary construction means free street parking.
Sapor Cafe and Bar, 428 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.375.1971.
Northeast Pizza Countdown
The tale of the little bagelry that could just keeps on going, as Mike Sherwood, owner of the Roseville pizza shop St. Paul Bagelry and Pizza Nea says it looks quite sure that he'll be opening a 50-seat Neapolitan pizza restaurant and wine bar in that strip of East Hennepin between Surdyk's and Nye's. Expect a list of two dozen pizzas like the ones he serves up north, such as that spicy "Siciliana," a simple, light, and roasty crust covered with homemade, spicy sauce, imported, hand-pitted Gaeta olives and fresh American fiori di latte mozzarella cheese. Yum! If you're a Northeast resident and starved for good pizza, get chanting: I think he can, I think he can. Planned opening? Next October or November.
St. Paul Bagelry and Pizza Nea, 1702 Lexington Ave. N., Roseville; 651.488.1700.
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.