Nochee: Washington Avenue hotspot
The success of several recent Downtown
additions - Bellanotte, 600 Hennepin Ave. S.;
Bar Lurcat, 1624, Harmon Pl., and Solera, 900
Hennepin Ave. S. - prove that the all-in-one
DJ lounge/restaurant concept is all the rage.
Nochee is the latest to jump on that trend.
Created by the owners of La Bodega, 101 Blu
and Arezzo (all in southwest Minneapolis),
Nochee opened in late June at 500 Washington
Ave. S. The lounge/restaurant offers a little
something for everyone: live music, DJs, daily
happy hours 3-7 p.m., plus 11 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday
through Thursday; and late-night food
from an abbreviated menu until 1 a.m.
The menu is American with European influences,
featuring an array of house-made pasta,
meats, seafood and small plates. Lunch will
also be served daily with a buffet-style brunch
Chef Walter Buffalo - formerly of St. Paul's
W.A. Frost and the restaurant (since closed) of
the Whitney Hotel, 150 Portland Ave. S. - has
created a dinner menu with an entire page of
small plates, some of which will also be offered
on the abbreviated happy hour menu. There
are Szechwan-style baby back ribs ($9), corn
taco three-ways ($9), a curry-dusted Dungeness
crab and an avocado salad ($11).
Beyond the small plates, there are risottos
- including the spicy Israeli couscous risotto
with lamb, mint and harissa ($9), and entrees
such as grilled beef tenderloin topped with
Gorgonzola ($23) or curry and potato cioppino
The lunch menu ranges from $7-$10 sandwiches
(including a pan-seared sterling pork
loin with fried onions, tomato and pepper jack
cheese) to $13 entrees, such as a pan-roasted
Alaskan halibut with wilted arugula and an
orange, olive and red onion vinaigrette. For
business luncheons, Nochee also has a hightech
Wine lovers have a choice of 270 bottles
stored in a unique climate-controlled tower.
Mixologists (a.k.a. bartenders) prepare a variety
of signature cocktails, including the
Nocheetini, Cocobeantini, sangria and UV martinis.
The dcor is modern, with a dance floor
and lounge with plush couches. The colors are
soothing yellows, greens, purples and reds.
Outdoor seating is available on the sidewalk
caf along Washington Avenue South.
Riverfront cocktails and deals
A 20th birthday celebration happy
hour...hmmm...sounds like an illegal combination,
unless, of course, it is the 20th birthday of
the Downtown riverfront's Sophia, 65 Main St.
Sophia launched as Yvette Restaurant in
1984; the owner changed the name to Sophia
10 years later, but still counts 1984 as the establishment's
birth year. To commemorate,
throughout the summer and with no set enddate,
the restaurant is offering a two-for-one
happy hour, Monday-Friday, 4:30-7 p.m. in the
bar, with complimentary hot and cold hors
Yes, you read that right: free appetizers.
Also, this summer, on Mondays and Tuesdays,
order two entrees and receive a bottle of
wine on the house. Choose from a selection of
whites and reds. Toast to 1994, the year Yvette
became Sophia, with two snifters of Rainha
Santa 1994 vintage port for $19.94.
While these deals should be sufficient incentive
to lure you down to this elegant location,
with outdoor dining in view of the Mississippi
and Downtown's skyline, but there's more.
Sophia welcomes new chef Cory Gerber,
who was a chef at Yvette's Chicago location in
the mid-'90s. He has enhanced the menu of
steaks and grilled fish with colorful new presentations
and the introduction of some new
ingredients, flaunted in such dishes as spicy
Asian barbecue Ahi tuna over wilted greens
and sauted summer vegetables ($21).
Wine drinkers, if you find your tolerance too
low to sample all of the wines your heart
desires, try one of the $10 flights, featuring
such creatively named selections as Thirsty
Lizard Australian Chardonnay and South
African "Out of Africa" Pinotage.
Don't forget, Sophia also has live music and
dancing with no cover charge.
Send food-related tips and Downtown
restaurant news to Tammy Sproule Kaplan