Tag Archives: Restaurant Opening

Personality On a Plate

I know a lot of chefs who work for someone else and as much as I think I may “know” them, I am not sure you really get to know a chef until he or she is working for himself in complete control of the menu.

I was caught a bit off guard when I heard that Michael Agan was opening Xavi Restaurant. It never occurred to me that he wanted to own his own restaurant, as he’s worked for pretty “corporate” kitchens since I first met him when he was an executive sous chef at Chambers Kitchen.

Including not knowing how to pronounce “Xavi” (our server kindly told us “zsa-vee”, like Zsa Zsa Gabor, which was very helpful), I had no idea what to expect. Reading through the menu, I was thinking three different things: 1) not a single chicken item on the entire menu 2) the combinations of ingredients made me very curious 3) I don’t know if I would have matched up this menu with this chef.

We started our meal with Spring Carrot and Bibb Salad, Mushroom Broth, La Belle Duck Breast and Shrimp and Grits. I enjoyed all of the dishes, but special note of my favorite elements of the emulsified carrot dressing on the salad and the pork dumplings in the Mushroom Broth.

Xavi Carrot and Bibb Salad
Xavi Mushroom Dumpling Soup

For our main course, we had the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs, as well as the Lemongrass Marinated Pork Loin. In general, I’m a huge fan of short ribs, so expected that to be my favorite, but I have to say the pork loin was very delicious. Aside from pork products bacon or ham, I might have pork loin once every year or two, so Xavi may be my go to place for pork from now on.

Xavi Pork

I like that the restaurant is in a quieter neighborhood, as it resulted in a nice relaxing evening.

However, the best part of dinner was discovering the real Chef Michael Agan on a plate.

Xavi Restaurant
5607 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis

Lip Smackin’ Good

It may have taken longer than the Twin Cities wanted, but it would appear that diners feel it was worth the wait.  It’s already challenging to get dinner reservations at the Smack Shack, situated in the North Loop neighborhood.

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We had a fun time with the VIP party, as everyone knows that restaurant openings are my favorite events! Thank you to Erica Loeks for the images!

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There are few things greater in life than fresh oysters and champagne, especially if it is Veuve Cliquot.  The chefs shucked the oysters and presented it on the massive ice sculpture from Ice Occasions.

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The centerpiece of the restaurant is the large blue lobster tank, ensuring that the lobster live in pristine water.

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My faves:  Continental Roll (warm lobster roll), Smack Burger, Shrimp Boil.  (oh, and save some room for yummy dessert)

Smack Shack
603 Washington Avenue North
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401

Rooftop View

The VIP opening of Crave’s new downtown rooftop was a smashing success.    We laid down the red carpet, poured Moet, passed some food and had DJ Poet, of the Black Eyed Peas, entertain the crowd!

A fun party to put on and I was happy that everyone seemed to have a goood time.

Smile Network had an amazing array of rare wine and unique items for a silent auction that took place in Crave’s Private Dining Room.

Kara of Kamarron Design always does such a beautiful job selecting fabrics, colors and textures for the Crave Restaurants.  The finishing touches on the rooftop makes it a beautiful, yet comfortable space.

This might be my favorite ice sculpture from Ice Occasions!

Thank you to Noah Wolf Photography for the images!

A Forum for Foodies

Someone asked me recently, “What is American fare?”

Uh.

Um.

Steak and potatoes?

In this day and age of fusion-this and fusion-that, I’m not sure I know the true answer to that question.

At the Forum Restaurant preview party, I spent more time in the kitchen than anywhere else in the restaurant. Call me a chef groupie, but when given a choice, I prefer to see the action in the kitchen versus the people watching in the dining room.


The idea behind Forum is a gathering place to converse and exchange ideas, while noshing on American comfort food. (I know in our text-email-iPad life, as we know it today, the whole concept of actually talking to each other seems a bit foreign).

I love the idea behind it as I’ve been discussing this very topic in my industry…getting back to engaging in real-life interaction with one another.

The concept is a little simpler than Jim and Stefanie Ringo’s other new restaurant, Ringo in the West End, and it is in business-expense account territory, so hopefully the concept will be embraced.

They did a great job renovating the space and bringing it back to the art-deco originality. It has a casual elegance about the space.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to taste very much of the menu last night. However, I did enjoy the firecracker shrimp (just enough sting to the tongue) and the beet salad (nice mix of texture and flavor). I’m looking forward to trying the Southwest Bird’s Nest (hard-boiled egg wrapped in country sausage and panko, served on cristpy onion nest, with chipolte aioli) and the Beef Short Rib “Steamship” (16 ounces of slowly braised short rib with Yukon mashed potatoes and Forum vegetable medley, as prepared at the James Beard House in New York City) upon my next visit.

Forum, located in former Goodfellow’s space in City Center, offically opened today.