be nimble. be quick. redo your menu and wine list.
After temporarily closing their doors last week, menu changes introduced to the East Harriet cafe by well-known Minneapolis Chef Kevin Kathman have inspired adulation from the café’s regulars.
“Oh, Delicious!” regular Matt Perry exclaimed, describing a dinner he and his wife had Sunday night as part of Jack’s “soft re-opening.”
“Their food went from pretty unremarkable to outstanding,” Perry said. “They really took it to the next level.”
Perry may be the president of the Nicollet-East Harriet Business Association, but his gushing compliments were hardly alone. Susan Glenn and her friend, Jane Southwood, skipped out of work early to get a couple glasses of wine during the first “new” Jack’s happy hour Tuesday night while enjoying the afternoon’s obscene warmth from the café’s metal patio chairs.
“I knew Jack’s was reopening and I thought, ‘I’m heading out early today,’” Glenn chortled, casting a conspiratorial glance at Southwood across the table.
The menu is broken up into three distinct sections: "Bites" (literally—the leek and potato soup on Tuesday’s menu was served in a shot glass), "Cool," and "Warm." All are on the smaller side of things, said co-owner Pam Nelson, but taken together, they’ll make a filling meal.
Even if you hear a friend raving about a particular dish, don’t necessarily expect it to be there when you drop by the following week. The core of the Kathman’s new menu, Nelson said, is creativity. If he wants to substitute salmon with sea bass, or replace an item entirely, that’s his prerogative.
“It all depends on our access to fresh ingredients,” explained Nelson.
With this constant evolution, it remains to be seen if Jack’s will develop a consistent “style." At least with Tuesday’s menu, there were inklings of what may turn out to be a habit: pulling a traditional dish apart into constituent bits and juxtaposing them.
Remember the potato-leek soup? The leeks are warm when put into the shot glass, and the rest of the soup is added cold. The pot roast is served in similar fashion, Nelson said, with the meat and veg extricated from each other and plated separately.
“It’s a fun menu,” she added with a winking smile. “It’s all simple ingredients, but all combined in a really interesting way. Nothing intimidating."