Erick Harcey has been hard at work getting the doors ready to fling open at his second restaurant, Upton 43. He's shooting for an end-of-October opening, but he wants to perhaps "tighten that up" even a bit further. The place has been about a year in the making, and in the meantime his beloved grandfather Willard Ramberg, chef and "ramblin' man," passed on.
It was the "wise old wisdom" of grandpa Willard that got the chef to thinking: He wanted a restaurant he really wanted, not one that he thought the city needed. It would be he, after all, who would be stuck with the thing. At first, he says, he didn't even want a second place, but stretching the company offers better opportunities for the whole staff, for his bursting-at-the-seams family of six (he's got four boys under the age of nine), and for his own ambitions. His first restaurant, Victory 44, opened in 2009, giving the food desert of north Minneapolis a true neighborhood gem that quickly became a destination.
As the progeny of Swedish grandparents who cooked pea soup and pickled herring and abelskivers for practically every meal, Harcey couldn't shake the influence of that cuisine. So Upton 43 will take strong influence from his grandma's recipes, which he wants to lighten and streamline, but not change so much that she says, "What the hell have you done to my recipe?" when she tries them.
Inside, the place also takes heavy inspiration from Sweden, with a lot of modern, slim lines, but also with "a little edge of hillbilly, because that's what I am."
What he also is: a "country boy" who grew up on lots and lots of vegetables, so while he's been known up to this point as a chef who knows his way around a hunk of meat, he says Upton will turn that notion on its head and instead focus heavily on vegetables and vegetables garnished with meat.
Curing and fermentation will also feature heavily, and as promised, the place will move forward with the adjacent "Dirty Bird," where roast chicken with sides and healthy family-style food will be available for grab and go. He's considering doing a similar thing with the coffee shop that's adjacent to Victory 44.
Opens end of October
4312 Upton Ave. S., Minneapolis