Cooks of Crocus Hill in the North Loop. Submitted photo

Cooks of Crocus Hill in the North Loop. Submitted photo

Best Picks: Sept. 22–Oct. 5

Updated: September 22, 2016 - 4:11 pm

What do to downtown after work.

Where store-bought is more than fine

Minneapolis residents, fear not: You no longer have to venture to St. Paul or Edina to update your kitchen at Cooks of Crocus Hill. The Twin Cities-based retailer had avoided opening a Minneapolis location, but that’s been put to an end with a new urban-minded shop conveniently located where the North Loop’s former kitchen store, Local D’Lish, used to be. I grew up just outside of Stillwater, so I’ve already tasted the magic of Crocus’ culinary wizards, but if you’ve yet to be converted, owner Karl Benson has given me this example several times. Say your Ina Garten-style fantasy is to make lobster risotto, but you’re not exactly prepared to find freshly caught lobster. You probably have the time after work to thaw some frozen shrimp and drizzle a little of the store’s rich lobster oil into the dish, which will bring your meal up several notches. Sometimes store-bought is more than fine.

Photo courtesy of Orchid Tapes
Photo courtesy of Orchid Tapes

 Midwest music makers

Johanne Swanson, who performs as Yohuna, travelled across the continent making her latest release, “Patientness,” but the bedroom pop singer-songwriter grew up just 90 minutes outside the Twin Cities — and it shows. Yohuna’s music is humble, confessing an intensity of emotion in tranquil harmonies, deceivingly powerful lyrics and layered synths and keyboard. Swanson’s own Midwestern flight — the turbulent journey that inspired “Patientness” — has brought her to the coasts, from Los Angeles to, most recently, New York City. She’s bringing the music back to the Midwest with a 7th Entry show on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Joining her is Minneapolis’ own P • PL whose Adelyn Strei collaborated on Swanson’s album. The freak funk group, a collective of musicians from bands out of the Twin Cities and Wisconsin, combine silly and sexy on this year’s “Dem Ohs,” which sees them reconnecting with a distant lover (“The Feels / As Long As It’s Real”) to whispering sex-deprived flirtations (“Push​-​N​-​Pull”).

Live street art

If you’re walking down Hennepin on a Thursday evening and see booths, art and more right on the street, no, that’s not the farmers market. The Hennepin Theatre Trust is bringing the street to life each week this year, and thanks to the 5 to 10 on Hennepin initiative you don’t have to go out of your way to see local artists. The rotating art fest moves block by block, and on Thursday, Sept. 29, 8th to 9th near the State Theatre will see an artist market with local artisans and interactive Double Dutch jump roping with Pros of the Ropes. The night will also see a performance from The Headspace Collective, which blends psychedelic grooves and acid rock to, as the group says, “access your mind till you shake your behind.”

5 to 10 Hennepin. Photo courtesy of the Hennepin Theatre Trust
5 to 10 Hennepin. Photo courtesy of the Hennepin Theatre Trust

Enjoy the porch pooches

If I were taking an out-of-towner to a downtown happy hour, The Freehouse would be near the top of my list. The North Loop hangout is just far enough outside the city’s business center to not feel like you’re still at work, but it’s close enough not to require too much planning. Plus, dog watching. If you’re like me, you’ve been living vicariously through the city’s dog owners this summer and the patio is usually packed with pooches. For a post-work happy hour — 4 p.m.–6 p.m. Monday through Friday — the bar at Freehouse offers $5 snacks that go beyond the usual fries. For what it’s worth, my Instagram feed seems to favor the caramelized Brussels sprouts, but there’s also oysters on the half shell and barbecue ribs. To wash it down, you can’t do much better than the house-brewed beer at Freehouse. The restaurant’s Kölsch, a light, golden ale, sounds perfect for one of those unseasonably warm fall days thanks to its apple fruitiness.