The Inn: a tour of the bar and menu with Tim Niver

Inn from the cold

Inn from the cold

Step inside the Handicraft Guild building just off Tenth and Marquette. Shake the snow from your hair, rub your hands together as the feeling starts to return to your fingertips, and return the smile that greets you at the door of the recently opened Inn. Chances are good the beaming face will belong to owner and local restaurant wiz Tim Niver. After revitalizing a decrepit diner space on Lake Street (Town Talk Diner) and crafting a neighborhood hot spot on Dayton's Bluff (the Strip Club), he's turned his eye to downtown Minneapolis.

Along with his business partners and chef Tyge Nelson (formerly of La Belle Vie and Barrio), Niver took over the space of the Filipino-fusion eatery Subo and has created a sanctuary for the weary traveler as well as the hungry and thirsty downtown dweller or office worker.

Gone are the claustrophobic trappings of booths that crawled up the walls, revealing windows along the length of the restaurant.  The flavor is unmistakably Minneapolis, with rough, old wood polished to a sheen. From the American rose quilt style of its compass-like logo, to each item at the bar, the Inn has been created with an eye toward a rustic European nostalgia.

"Like, take the rye we stock. It's relatively cheap, but it's good," Niver says. "Paired with the honey syrup we make, it complements those flavors."

Those who know the tasty libations served at the Strip Club can drool expectantly while surfing the bar menu at the Inn. Its house bitters are made with black walnut, orange, cherry, and vanilla. The tonic is house-crafted too, bubbly with a whisper of sweetness and quinine punch. The Inn also makes its own sour, vanilla syrup, rosemary syrup, and more, all used as what Niver calls his bar mise en place, the French culinary term chefs use to describe their tools set up before them so that they can create their dishes. Cocktails are designed with layers of flavor to complement and enhance one another, not unlike what a chef does in the kitchen. "And most importantly, you have to taste everything."

One of the Inn's most popular drinks is the simple beer and a bump. The beer can be any one of the distinctive brews from the list, most hailing from Minnesota or Wisconsin, and the bump is a shot of Linie aquavit (a nod to Niver's time at the Minneapolis Aquavit restaurant of yore.) Flavored with caraway and aromatic herbs, the spirit is then stored in sherry casks and sent off in a ship around the world to cross the line of the equator. To find out where each bottle has been, gaze inside and you'll find a distinctive map of its voyage, what ship it was on, how long it was there, and where exactly it traveled. Each bottle is steeped in history.

And that's just the bar. Up next: a tour of the menu.

89 10th St. S., Minneapolis
612.886.2377; website