Moveable Feast: Museum Restaurants

by John Birge, Minnesota Public Radio
February 21, 2014

St. Paul, Minn. — For our new weekly feature, "Moveable Feast," Rachel Hutton of Minnesota Monthly joins John Birge to talk about food topics in which Classical MPR listeners may be interested. This week, John and Rachel discuss museum restaurants.

Fika, the restaurant located in the Swedish American Institute in Minneapolis, remains one of the region's finest restaurants — museum or no — and Rachel says she'd "still send you there in a heartbeat." But other museum restaurants are popping up like hands raised when a docent asks, "Any questions?" There is a push by museums to upgrade their dining options.

For example, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, there's Grain Stack, which is named after a Monet painting. Grain Stack was opened by the folks behind Parka in Minneapolis's Longfellow neighborhood, and it intends to provide hip but approachable fare: soups, sandwiches, fancy mac 'n cheese — and the famous Perfect Burger from Victory 44. What makes it perfect? Simply the way it's cooked and prepared (it's not, as John fears, a gimmick burger). Plans are also afoot at the MIA to open a kid-friendly café, called Half Pint.

At Walker Art Center, there's Gather, a restaurant John would visit even if he weren't going to the museum. Gather's Thursday happy hour is great, especially in the summer if you have a watermelon salad out on its patio overlooking Hennepin Avenue.

The Children's Museum in St. Paul, Minn., doesn't have its own restaurant but it seems like a good excuse to visit the nearby Mickey's Diner for grilled-cheese sandwiches and malts, just as Mickey's has been serving them since 1939.

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