In south Minneapolis, Wise Acre Eatery is living the farm-to-table concept more literally than most restaurants. The small modern diner serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with food that comes directly to your plate from its 100-acre farm just outside of Plato, less than an hour from the Twin Cities. Tangletown Gardens (also the name of its neighboring garden center) grows fresh produce year round and produces a large variety of livestock, including Scottish Highland cattle, Berkshire and Large Black hogs, and free-range chickens, ducks, and turkeys.
This past Memorial Day weekend, Wise Acre Eatery celebrated its one-year anniversary, and its business shows no signs of slowing down. We were in the dining room recently to sample some of its farm-to-table lunch offerings, and the space was packed with diners.
The menu is full of items that principle Scott Endres refers to as "comfort food with integrity." On the lunch menu you'll find items like a freshly made chowder of the day, several salads featuring its homegrown greens and veggies, and a list of classic sandwiches.
Using its farm-fresh meats, Wise Acre Eatery prepares everything from bacon to burgers. On our recent visit we tried the hot dog, which was a perfect yet simple representation of a classic dog. A basic white bun is grilled, and an unadorned hot dog is placed inside. It's served with a side of rhubarb ketchup and a dollop of homemade mustard, both of which made for perfect accompaniments. We also tested out the chowder of the day, an onion and bacon version. The sweetness of the onions and the smokiness of the bacon played well together, and it really hit the spot on the cool and rainy afternoon.
Scott Endres talked to us a bit about the concept for the restaurant and how it was built around a slow-food philosophy, but with "options to eat on the fly." Wise Acre Eatery's menu, Endres says, "doesn't stay stagnant -- it changes with the seasons."
Wise Acre Eatery sources somewhere between 80% to 90% of its products from its Tangletown Gardens farm, and the products it doesn't produce it sources from other local farms that follow its same sustainably centered values. Its cheese and diary, for example, come from Castle Rock Organic Farms in Osseo, Wisconsin. Wise Acre Eatery's homemade frozen custard is made using honey from Ames Farms as its primary sweetening agent.
This summer look for a mini-farmer's market to be held at Tangletown Gardens garden center next door to Wise Acre. It's decided to merge its CSA (consumer supported agriculture) pickup with a farmer's market for those who, Endres says, "might not be committed to the idea of purchasing a full CSA package."
This summer Wise Acre Eatery will also host a few farm events. On June 24, Wise Acre will be offering free farm tours of its Tangletown Gardens farm. For an extra fee you can have lunch at the farm with both the owners and the chef. Ticket prices for the lunch will be $10 for kids and $15 for adults. In late August look for Wise Acre Eatery's second-annual farm dinner. For $165, on August 26 you can visit the farm for a multi-course feast featuring both beer and wine pairings. For more information or to RSVP for either event, call 612.822.4769.