Minnesotans have long been punchlines to jokes involving lutefisk and lefse. But Nordic dining is back in style””and Minnesota’s got the best street cred in the country. There are a variety of Scandinavian Minnesota restaurants offering fresh, clean, hardworking dishes that are super-satisfying and sophisticated but that also pay homage to Nordic roots. Book a holiday in holiday in Minneapolis and who knows””you might just order lutefisk or lefse””and see it in a whole new light.
The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis
You know you’ve got buzz when you’re called upon by the POTUS. That’s right: The Bachelor Farmer fed President Barack Obama when he visited Minneapolis in 2012. Owners Eric and Andrew Dayton renovated the former wool company, retaining the original brick-and-timber aesthetic but adding a modern twist. Their menu reflects the same philosophy; agile and daily changing, the chefs strive to source ingredients locally. Some are so local they’re located on top of the building: A rooftop garden provides the produce that appears on diners’ plates. For a terrific nightcap, head around the back of the building to the purple door: behind it is Marvel Bar, manned by the incomparable Pip Hanson, who is known for his inventive takes on classic cocktails.
50 North Second Avenue, Minneapolis, thebachelorfarmer.com
The newly renovated Swedish American Institute is a stunner: the original building, the 1929-built Turnblad Mansion, was fused with its modern, LEED Gold certified Nelson Cultural Center addition last year to rave reviews. Housed in the new addition is café Fika, helmed by Chef Michael Fitzgerald – who led several other rockstar restaurants in town before training his eye toward New Nordic dining. Delights include a smoked sturgeon salad with pickled beets and egg yolk on watercress, or pickled pear and chevre on toast with frisée, mushroom and orange.
2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, asimn.org
For all the “new” Nordic in town, Ingebretsen’s provides the foil of stalwart ambassador (90 years and running!) to Nordic food, products, and crafts. Foodies rejoice upon discovery of the heritage deli, which features Swedish anchovies, meatballs, herring, blood sausage, lutefisk, and Danish liver paté.
1601 East Lake Street, Minneapolis, ingebretsens.com
Haute Dish, Minneapolis
Chef Landon Schoenefeld landed with a huge splash in Minneapolis with his inspired and sometimes humorous take on Midwestern dishes. His most talked-about plate at Haute Dish is the gourmet take on Tater Tot Hot Dish, adding polish””with its porcini, short ribs, and green beans atop croquettes””to a lowbrow comfort-food favorite. Also well-loved is the mac-n-cheese, with taleggio, king crab, and truffle oil. A tasting menu of the chef’s favourites is a perfect way to sample the epitome of Modern Midwestern.
119 Washington Avenue North, Minneapolis, haute-dish.com
Heartland, St. Paul
Chef Lenny Russo may be Italian, and he may not consider his restaurant New Nordic, but his approach reflects the movement to use locally sourced, fresh ingredients and take them to the next culinary level. The daily changing menu at Heartland may consist of trout, elk, or wild rice, but the juxtapositions and complexity of the dishes will wow. Take a bit home with you from the deli, which houses rare regional cheeses, meats, and produce.
289 East Fifth Street, St. Paul, heartlandrestaurant.com
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Have you eaten at any of these Nordic food favourites? Where do you go for a fantastic dining experience in Minneapolis? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Written by Katie Dohman