The hiss of disdain among the talented, if sometimes egotistical chef is a familiar one: "All anyone wants to do is eat burgers. Sigh." The genius of the savvy restaurateur is perhaps less familiar: Give people what they want. Luke Shimp, formerly of Blue Plate (The Lowry, Highland Grill, Scuzi, et. al.) and now of the North Loop Red Cow and two others (at 50th and France and Cathedral Hill) seems to be simply checking boxes on a now well-familiar formula: burgers, beer, and mixology. And he's added one more: wine.
Fifteen iterations using the top grade of certified Angus beef, but sometimes also with bison, with turkey, with ahi tuna and with lamb. You like caramelized onion? You like cheddar? Oh, you like your cheddar white? You like fig, peanut butter, candied bacon, and root beer pulled pork -- hey, they got all that stuff. Pile it on, sister. Wait, what? You don't even like burgers? Well, have a poutine, have a wing, have some cheesecurds or some chimichangas, have a Cubano! But if eating animals gives you the willies, don't look north: 50 actual meat hooks dangle from the rafters.
48 on tap. You know the drill: If you like it, they probably have it. Six TV screens surround the bar area for watching whilst sipping.
One must have a "kick ass" mixology program if one is to prosper as a proper neighborhood hang, says Shimp, so they've got one. He tapped Ian Lowther, former spirits specialist for Solera and Far North Spirits to head things up. You want a Sex on the Beach? Screw that! Have Sex on Tap! But not just that, we spotted a bartender fixing a proper whiskey sour with Old Granddad, citrus, and an egg white.
Move over, beer. Shimp, who is a passionate oeneophile, says he's committed to serving wine the way vintners would have him do so: 42 to 45 degrees fahrenheit for whites, 58 to 64 for reds, and not at all oxidized. He's installed a state of the art preservation system to ensure just that, with 30 available by the glass, priced between $6 and $25 apiece. "My goal is to have a wine for everyone."
Lipstick red, Holstein wallpapered, and meat-hook raftered. While Shimp took care to point out design details he likens to an old school tavern meets new school whimsy -- tin ceilings, exposed natural wood, a cork wall, reclaimed wine barrels -- what we took away was: moo.
The front wall is entirely glass encased, which will reveal a spacious patio for warm weather revelry, and bonus, you'll be able to escape the image of a hanging carcass.
Shimp says it's easy: "Just be nice."
Opens February 10
208 1st Ave N., Minneapolis