The Dish – a takeaway, a trip to the mall and a vision of the future – Southside Pride
BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
Where I get information about restaurants
In case you were wondering where I get restaurant information, whether it’s to deliver news from the restaurant world here or to decide what to review next, I mostly get it from the same place where I get a lot of my information – Internet media. Not social media, but either online magazine and journal outlets or fully online publications. One of the most important today is The Eater. They have sub-sections based on city or region, and they can also send you an email newsletter if, like me, you like having a cluttered and crowded inbox.
Rather than using that as a source, I’m just going to share with you a recent article I read out there on the Ten Essential Restaurants and Food Hub for Mexican Cuisine along Lake Street in South Minneapolis. (Two of them are taquerias / cafes in grocery stores and one is a food truck, so really only seven. Twincities.eater.com/maps/best-mexican-restaurants-east-lake-street-minneapolis) You can find this piece and more on the Twin Cities restaurant scene at twincities.eater.com.
Another major source that I use is the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal. This is a high-priced physical weekly, and although it also publishes online, the online articles are only available to print subscribers. Here, I learn about openings, closings, chef careers, business-related things like unionization or impending bankruptcy, and general food news. It was super helpful during the pandemic
I also get lighter, almost mouth-watering news there, like what’s new at the Minnesota State Fair in 2021. Buffalo ravioli bites, on the one hand. At least three Midtown Global Market vendors will offer State Fair offers. Hot Indian sells a Kerala Chicken Kati Roll or Paneer Pakora. Andy’s Garage offers a sort of vegan corn dog, where the “dog” is a chipotle from Herbivorous Butcher, or a bacon cheeseburger on a sugary waffle. Los Ocampo will offer esquites, a kind of ready-to-use version of elotes.
Some minor tweaks from the last issue
Of the three new restaurants I mentioned in the June issue, two have in fact not opened yet, although normally reliable sources have said they have, and the third – well, c ‘is complicated. The first – Mason’s Famous Lobster Roll at the Mall of America – is listed in the Mall directory as “Coming Soon”, is not open, as several newspapers have said.
Infused Life (in the old A Cupcake Social space) seems open, but in fact, it’s not… quite. I spoke to the owner when she saw me staring questioningly through her front window. You would think I was seeing her home instead of legitimately trying to figure out what is going on in a public restaurant. Anyway, she said they would be “open soon”. That’s what the sign at the old Midtown World Market said several months ago. I do not know what to tell you. Their products were great, so I hope they manage to open up. Soon. In fact.
The last one is a bit high and low. It’s A Dripping Root, a shop selling all raw and vegan juices and smoothies. I walked past their opening on the announced opening day of May 29th, and there was a huge queue. They were therefore opened on time and with an excellent response. A few weeks later there was news that someone had vandalized the business and it was temporarily closed. And just last weekend there was news that it had reopened and after a short while was vandalized a second time. It’s worrying. I will try to stay on top.
Tiny Diner may be changing
A movement is underway to create a community owned (and hopefully worker) cooperative for the future of Tiny Diner. This writer has been in communication with Kim Bartmann and also Ixchel Mc-
Kinnie, who leads the Corporate Development Group for Social Impact Strategies (SISG) and now leads the Bartmann Group project to explore and hopefully activate a conversion of the business to a cooperative.
McKinnie gave me some information about the project and how it came about. Bartmann is not at, but approaching, an age when she may want to step down from her role as a restaurant owner. She contacted SISG CEO Elaine Rasmussen, who is also a member of the Nexus Group Board of Directors. The Nexus group’s mission is to help communities of color and other disadvantaged communities create community richness and stable environments. One path to this goal that they promote are community cooperatives and worker ownership. SISG has a closely aligned mission. This is how McKinnie came to manage the project.
The project is still in its early stages. If you would like to be part of the initial process of creating this, you can subscribe to the mailing list by visiting socialimpactnow-2570242.hs-sites.com/tiny-diner-cooperative-interest and signing up. Mc-
Kinnie worked three months on the project, which had two community meetings, one virtual and one in person. They will continue to offer information sessions and begin to build the leadership community, the group that will do the work to determine the feasibility of forming a co-op, create a business plan and make recommendations for the co-op structure.
McKinnie told me, “Kim thinks Tiny Diner is the perfect restaurant to convert to a co-op. Located a few blocks from George Floyd Square, I can’t think of a better place to be in the hands of the community, as a black woman. Located near four neighborhoods (Powderhorn, Central, Bancroft and Bryant), we hope the membership reflects the rich diversity of these communities. Ultimately, those who come forward and want to participate will define the community. “
The exact timeline remains to be planned, but it usually takes around 18 months or more to establish a cooperative. McKinnie hopes the plan will include ownership as well as business, will also be highly inclusive and appealing to the BIPOC and LGBT + communities, and have a co-ownership role for workers.
Other things to look forward to
– The Minnesota State Fair.
– Still waiting for The Sioux Chef restaurant in the new waterfront park near St. Anthony Falls.
– Trying to decide which of several new (for me) sounding fabulous restaurants to visit in person and review in August.
– Summer has just started and I can’t wait to fall!
Mini-review of a real restaurant sit in a restaurant – Masu Sushi & Robata (Mall of America)
I went to the mall and all I had was sushi. I actually had sushi (sake, which is salmon, not rice wine) and also a real seaweed salad and a side dish called burokkori, which is charred broccoli with togarishi frosting. I also had a non-alcoholic cocktail called Singing Mountain, which consisted of green tea and rhubarb syrup. The only small disappointment was the burokkori. I love broccoli so it’s hard to spoil it completely, but it was both undercooked and under-seasoned in my opinion. And I’m someone who generally considers overcooked and over-seasoned vegetables.
Takeaway Advice – Curry in a Hurry via Bite Squad
I used Bite Squad to order a very basic Curry in a Hurry meal. I had a mango lassi, which was big and perfect. I have a basic bowl of vegetable curry for lunch. It was a little overcooked, I think, and a high rice / curry ratio. I first ordered a pakora as the free side, then changed my mind and changed it to a regular naan (before hitting “place order”). But even though the receipt and bag said “naan”, I got a pakora. Perhaps it was the fault of the Bite Squad software. Who knows? It was still good (the pakora, that is). I also had a single lentil samosa, which was only $ 3. I still eat leftover curry two days later, so I have to say Curry in a Hurry scores 10 out of 10 for “value for money”. And a 10 for the lassi, and an 8.5 for the curry, so that’s on average a 9.