Appetites: 2014 set to be a busy year for Twin Cities dining

Meat, cheese plate
Plates of cheese and cured meat, similar to this one, photographed Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 at Russell Klein's Meritage in St. Paul will be available at his new Minneapolis restaurant, an Austrian brasserie, which will include a wine bar with a cheese program called Foreign Legion. Cheeses shown here, left to right, are a goat's milk Bonde de Gatine; Carles Roquefort; a cow's milk Morbier; and an earthy Tomme de Savoie.
Jennifer Simonson / MPR News

2014 is shaping up to be a busy, buzzing year in the Twin Cities restaurant scene. A number of 300-seat restaurants are opening in the metro, which means many restauranteurs are hoping a lot of people are willing to go out and pay to sit down in one of those seats.

MPR News' Tom Crann spoke with Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of Mpls.-St. Paul Magazine to talk about some new eateries around town. Below is a transcript of their discussion, edited for length and clarity.

DMG: First, we have Coup D'état opening in the uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. This is a second act from the people behind Borough restaurant and Parlour bar, one of the best new restaurants to open in the last year.

Coup D'état is going to be just buzzy with enormous outside seating. There will be a window on the street displaying pizza slices, burritos, street food, all kinds of different things. It'll be huge.

Second, in downtown Minneapolis, an Austrian megaplex. Russell Klein from Meritage, one of the best restaurants in St. Paul, is coming across the river in a big way with a four-part restaurant called Brasserie Zentral. It's going to have a sit-down Austrian brasserie, an enormous skyway-level European street food service, a 100 varietal list wine bar with a whole cheese program called Foreign Legion, and a retail wine shop curated by their sommelier.

CRANN: And, out to Excelsior, a new lakeside place that reportedly has a Mick Jagger connection will be a big place in its own right. Tell us about it.

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DMG: Victor's is going into the site of the old Bacon Drug store and there are two camps of people: those who believe that Bacon Drug inspired the Rolling Stones's "You Can't Always Get What You Want," with Mister Jimmy, who was a town fixture in Excelsior; and those who say that the story is not true.

I don't care what the story is - I'm excited about this restaurant. It is going to be big. It's going to have pizza and Italian made by two really well-regarded Minneapolis chefs, Phillip Becht and Brian Crouch. So, if you are a Rolling Stones fan, you are going to have a new place to take pictures of yourself eating pizza.

CRANN: And, cheese is going to get a lot of attention again this year.

DMG: Yeah, and I'm really happy about this. Minnesota and Wisconsin, we are embracing something really important culinary about us. The Austrian place I mentioned earlier, Brasserie Zentral, is going to have a very big cheese program, as will a big restaurant coming to downtown St Paul, right across from the St. Paul Farmer's Market.

Saint Dinette will be opened by the same people behind The Strip Club, the grass-fed beef steakhouse up around Dayton's Bluff. Saint Dinette is going to have a big cheese focus and French style, but authentically Minnesota and St. Paul.

So, think a lot of comfort foods, like cheesy, baked dishes. Really highlighting some of our region's great local natural resources - our grass, our animals, our cheese.

CRANN: You say there are also some new places that are going to be opening up that will get some national attention, because of the well-known chefs who have decided to come to the Twin Cities to open their latest restaurants.

DMG: Yes. This is kind of surprising and still on the distant horizon, nothing set for the next couple of months.

A chef named Erik Anderson opened a restaurant in Nashville called The Catbird Seat. He got national attention, reviewed in the New York Times, was fawned over in all the big glossies. He moved back here New Year's Day, and is going to open his own, new restaurant in Minneapolis. This is going to be a big deal. I bet he will draw food critics here from all around the world.

Another local chef, Todd MacDonald, moved here from New York City. And, he is going to be looking for a space and opening his own place.

So, I think that when we meet next winter, in 2015, we're going to be thinking about 2014 as the year that put Minneapolis on the national food map in a really big way.