Nicollet Island Inn makeover
The Nicollet Island Inn, under new ownership, is launching changes all around. It has already introduced weekday breakfast and altered its Sunday brunch menu. Attempting to improve the quality and reputation of its lunch and dinner, owner Larry Abdo has hired chef Erick Harcey.
Harcey recently introduced a new dinner menu, described as simple and French in style, with a comfort food element that can be seen in dishes such as pan-roasted halibut with haricot vert, served with roasted tomato ravioli. In response to the consumer trend of eating more casual meals at the bar, the inn will also ramp up its bar menu to serve guests and neighborhood customers.
Meanwhile, the inn is making hotel-side improvements and updating room amenities. Abdo has added high-speed Internet access and flat-panel televisions, along with changes in dcor, but he said he would preserve the historic feeling of the inn. He expects the room updates to be complete within six months.
Dakota takes a new turn
Jack Riebel has stepped in as head chef at the Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall, as the successor to Ken Goff, who departed earlier this year to start his own restaurant. Riebel enters the Dakota kitchen after two years served as chef at La Belle Vie in Stillwater, and prior to that, 13 years at Downtown's own Goodfellow's, 40 S. 7th St.
Riebel was welcomed in late April. He recently introduced a new menu for both the restaurant and the club, with some conceptual changes. "We've opened up the cuisine to all different types of flavors. We're no longer sticking to just Northern American. We're doing more bold flavors," he said.
In an effort to improve the lunch and club dining experience, Riebel has separated this menu from the dinner offerings. One of his favorites is a Cobb Salad burger. In the evening, walleye, a Dakota tradition, will continue to be a dinner menu staple. "That's something we really needed to keep," he said.
Initially, it's being prepared in a pecan-crust, served with a smoked tomato aioli. "It's like a fancy walleye and tartar sauce," Riebel said.
Riebel explains he left La Belle Vie looking for a different challenge. "This is new and outside the box. These guys were looking for a chef to come in here and revitalize what had been for so long," he said.
Origami launches happy hour
Sushi deals and cheap drinks abound as Origami, 30 N. 1st St., adds a weekday 5-7 p.m. happy hour and late-night happy hour on Wednesdays. The house wine is just $3 per glass, while beer, saki and specialty martinis are also sold at reduced prices. Food specials include a couple of sushi combos, appetizers and some Japanese dinner items.
Origami is celebrating the completion of its remodeled bar and dining rooms, and it has reintroduced first-come, first-served seating in the dining room.
Sip away at Mill City Museum
On Wednesday, June 22, a charity wine-tasting event will be held at the Mill City Museum, 704 S. 2nd St., to benefit the American Heart Association. Samples of more than 200 wines will be poured at the event. It begins at 5:30 and the cost is $60. Arrive promptly to take advantage of the Spotlight tasting hour, 5:30-6:30 p.m., when the highest quality wines will be poured.
There will also be a silent auction, and some wines are exclusively available for purchase at this event and not otherwise sold by event sponsor Surdyk's, 303 E. Hennepin Ave.
To order tickets, visit www.surdyks.com.
Rumored changes for Bobino group
Chris Paddock, owner of Bobino, Starlite Lounge and the Elbow Room, 212 E. Hennepin Ave., is considering closing the latter two establishments to make room for a restaurant concept. Paddock explains that the smoking ban and rising liquor liabilities have hurt his business. He said the Elbow Room - classified by the city as a club - is treated no differently than The Quest, though in reality it's something in between a club and a bar.
Paddock has not confirmed a closing of either venue and said they still remain open for business. He is thinking about new options but has nothing to report yet.
Surdyk's and Nochee, 500 Washington Ave. S., are teaming up to host a wine dinner featuring Marietta wines on Wednesday, June 8. The cost is $70 per person. Surdyk's is also partnering with Zeno, 9th & Hennepin, on a Thursday, June 9 wine dinner featuring Trinchero wines. The cost is $65 per person.
McCormick & Schmick's, 800 Nicollet, is embracing summer with a week of celebration, June 6-10, on the outdoor patio. Two events sound particularly entertaining: on Tuesday, June 7, there will be a clambake, accompanied by lobster, for $16.95 per person. On Thursday, June 9, there will be a "Shuck and Swallow" oyster-eating contest; the grand prize is a trip for two to Las Vegas.