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Tilia: a sneak peek [UPDATE]

[UPDATE: Jorg Pierach contacted us to say that the new opening date is now slated to be March 19 and that they are still fine-tuning many details]

Linden Hills, and all of the Twin Cities' dining community, has been anxiously awaiting the opening of Tilia in the old Rice Paper space. Lauded chef Steven Brown, formerly of establishments such as Porter & Frye, the dearly departed Harry's, and Restaurant Levain, has paired with co-owner Jorg Pierach to create a small but serene restaurant, with an open kitchen, small bar, and a neighborhood-friendly menu. The Hot Dish got the chance to sample some bites and see the cooking crew in action at a benefit/preview over the weekend.

Warm and light inside
Warm and light inside

Tilia hosted two preview/benefits, and the Hot Dish attended one for Linden Hills Power and Light last Friday night. (The event was open to everyone who ponied up $25 for the nonprofit.) As Pierach ate and entertained the guests, Brown stood behind the open kitchen, showing his cooks how it's done. A parade of menu items and a choice of a few wines were offered to attendees, who sat at the bar, at tables, and at the premiere stove-view seats.

Our first taste of Tillia was a scallop on butternut squash puree with sage: homey yet impeccably cooked. Next up were some crispy fries with a house-made ancho ketchup mayo.

We also got plates of the future house salad of peppery arugula, pecorino, red onion, and lemon vinaigrette, and a piece of pork tenderloin atop carmelized brussel sprouts.

Brown teaches a course in house salad.
Brown teaches a course in house salad.

Bright green, tasty brussel sprouts
Bright green, tasty brussel sprouts

Pork tenderloin with apple cider vinegar sauce and brussel sprouts
Pork tenderloin with apple cider vinegar sauce and brussel sprouts

The upscale but low-key crowd murmured happily, as neighbors (including many kids) greeted one another and mingled. Friends said hello to the cooking staff as they sauteed, chopped, and garnished, and the evening quickly came to a close. But before it did, we had our favorite offering of the night: mussels in lemon garlic butter and Ommegang Ale with grilled bread.
Mussels with lemon garlic butter, ale and grilled bread
Mussels with lemon garlic butter, ale and grilled bread

We chatted briefly with the servers and Pierach, who revealed that the official opening day would be Tuesday, March 8. Menus for brunch, lunch, and dinner seem to offer something for everyone, from simple pancakes to a pimento cheese ball to a dry-aged Wild Acres duck breast. Also, we saw nothing over $20 on the carte and sandwiches for as low as $7.
Casual chatting at the bar
Casual chatting at the bar

But ultimately, the kids' menu ($3 for little kids and $7 for big kids) won us over--and not just because it had a lot of variety. We loved how it folds into a cootie catcher (or paper fortune teller) and even includes Lake Harriet and Linden Hills fun facts.

Can we get ice cream or a cookie if we finish our meal?
Can we get ice cream or a cookie if we finish our meal?
TILIA
2726 W. 43rd St., Minneapolis

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