Dipped and Debris 2422 Central Ave. NE

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Judging by the photo above, you can imagine my astonishment at having missed this establishment during my exploratory/gustatory journey up Central NE. Seriously! It looks like a lost circus tent, plopped between Durango Bakery and Sen Yai Sen Lek.

From one of the counter servers, I learn that Dipped and Debris has been open for 7 weeks, which is about the time I observed its blue and white striped presence. Looking back at the blogs, my visits to restaurants on that particular block pre-date Dipped and Debris. Whew. What is now D & D formerly was the south half of Sen Yai Sen Lek. I’m not sure what the story is with that transformation.

IMG_4083As to the name, it plays on the fact that the two featured menu items are the “Dipped”, a beef sandwich dipped in gravy (which my dining companion ordered, more on that later) and “Debris”, described as tasty bits of roast beef on a French loaf. They also sell frozen custard, another factor on the “Dipped” side.

IMG_4086One orders at the counter. In addition to sandwiches and ice cream, there are small bags of chips and beverages available.

Let’s start with the good news. I order the “Pseudo Fowl”, described as a Mock Duck Po Boy garnished with cabbage, pickled carrots, mushroom gravy, on a crispy French loaf. While the bread does not hold up to the contents, it tastes fabulous. I would definitely get this again. Now the less good news. My friend Judy orders the “Dipped” with gravy on the side, and is disappointed to be served a pile of roast beef on a roll. Nothing but meat and bread. I must concur that the sandwich appears rather stark. Down the road, the owners might consider including a side of good slaw and a few chips, along with sturdier bread.

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Lest this sound excessively critical, Judy said the beef is tasty, and as noted, my mock duck sandwich tastes yummy. The sound level is comfortable, and the business, take-out and eat-in, flows steady. Seating-wise, diners may choose amongst low tables, high-top tables, and stools at the window counter.

A future visit, which I envision happening on that first really warm day in spring when one’s fancy turns to thoughts of frozen desserts, will include a Pseudo Fowl redux, followed by a bowl of custard with an extravagant array of toppings.

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From The Friend by Sigrid Nunez, “Beware irony, ignore criticism, look to what is simple, study the small and humble things of the world, do what is difficult precisely because it is difficult, do not search for answers but rather love the questions, do not run away from sadness or depression for these might be the very conditions necessary to your work. Seek solitude, above all, seek solitude.”

Fair State Brewing Cooperative, 2506 Central Avenue NE

img_3992.jpgHow can one respond to the pervasive atmosphere of violence, dishonesty, fear, and anger afoot today? Option one: respond in like fashion. Spew invective, engage in name-calling, hunker down, buy weapons, and let survival mode dictate your actions. Option two: respond in a diametrically opposite manner. Project kindness, open your arms, turn swords into plough shares, and see the other as kindred. Visit the Fair State Brewing Cooperative taproom, study their business model, and have a beer.

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The restroom light switch

Fair State is a cooperative. You have to admire the strategy of getting people to invest their money in a venture like brewing and purveying beer. The real benefits are slight enough to make one believe that it is the concept into which members are buying, not the actual financial or material return. They are investing in community. Membership is $200 and this is forever, or for the FSBC lifespan which, judging by the brisk business at each of my several visits, will be lengthy. One does get a discount on merchandise (hats, tee shirts, hoodies), a portion of future profits, invitations to special events, and an occasional discount on beer. Members can serve on the board of directors, and have input on beer varieties.

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Wearables

Perhaps I will replicate this strategy in order to fund my writing life. You can buy a membership into what . . . me? No, that sounds weird. Perhaps an investment in future published books. For that, you get a preview chapter, a free autographed copy after publication, and an invite to a members-only book release event with FSBC beer. Woot-woot! I think we have a plan.

In addition to an investment strategy, Fair State has an inviting atmosphere. A brew pub where people bring their kids and their dogs presents an communal ambiance. Their website notes that dogs must be accompanied by their humans. Don’t you love the image of dogs coming in on their own? Some customers sip alone at the bar, others are coupled at the small tables along the wall, while others sit in groups at the longer tables up front. You can buy a pretzel from Aki’s which is their next door neighbor to the north. Or you can bring in food from one of the great area restaurants, or have it delivered. What a deal!  Fair State also sells beer at local liquor stores, and has off sale of large bottles, cans, and growlers on site.

They have a weekly trivia night on Wednesdays, and release a new beer each Thursday. If you are a card-carrying member of a local food co-op, your first pint is free on Mondays.

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FSBC is housed in a 1903-vintage building, with history as a hardware store and furniture store. But this does not explain the crudely bricked over fireplace.

My personal preference is for beers of non-hoppy, but unique and tasty varieties, From my son, who is an expert in many areas, including beer, I learned several years ago about IBUs. A high IBU (International Bitterness Unit) equals hoppy and bitter, which generally makes me unhoppy. ABV stands for percentage of Alcohol By Volume.

At today’s visit I sample two tap brews. First was Bowsaw, described as a “Kvass-style ale brewed using pretzels and bread from our neighbors at Aki’s Breadhaus, as well as Pilsner and Beechwood-smoked barley malts. In essence a farmhouse table beer, Bowsaw is dry, spritzy, a touch acidic, and has hints of smoke and minerality.” ABV: 3.5  IBU: 5.* Relatively speaking, Bowsaw is low in alcohol and low in bitterness. The idea of using leftover bread products is appealing. I enjoy the brew, while being slightly put off by a smokier flavor than I anticipated from the description.

Next I sample Extreme Leisure, described as a “Fruited Berliner Weiss for those days when you can’t be bothered with anything at all whatsoever, and all you want is a super fruity cocktail, we present Extreme Leisure. guava passionfruit sour wheat beer, made with 2lbs./gallon fruit puree.” ABV: 4, IBU: 10.*’ And this about sums it up. If you like fruity, sour, low bitterness beer, as I do, this is a great choice, even though the description makes it sound like a brew for the idle and slow-witted.

Being at Fair State gives me a feeling similar to the Minnesota State Fair. A sense of kinship, community, and hope for humanity.

In the spirit of consistent kindness, I wish you farewell until next week.

* For comparison purposes, amongst the current Fair State beer lineup, the highest ABV is 8, and the highest IBU is 70.

The Cat and the Cobra

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The proprietor Eric is welcoming but not so welcoming that it feels awkward, if you know what I mean. After browsing the newly opened store, I ask him the origin of the name. He attributes it to a conversation between he and his co-proprietor. They liked the name. Googling the phrase, I discover that videos of cat versus cobra fights are popular, and the band Les Savey Fav has an album by that name. For what that’s worth.

 

What we have here is a vintage store with a biker theme. The first clue? Vintage motorcycle as window display. A rack holds more varieties of Harley shirts that a non-biker could imagine existing. According to Eric, the shirts are highly prized in the Far East. You can also find boots, boots, boots, jackets, denim and other interesting stuff.

 

I pause over a Bemidji Woolen Mills shirt-jacket, and a fringed black leather jacket. But it is a fall-hued Italian-made mohair pullover that makes me pull out my credit card. It is soft and pleasingly fuzzy. My granddaughter, who attends a Spanish immersion daycare, dubs the sweater “Grandma’s oso jacket.” She approves of the purchase.

My chat with Eric is engaging. We discuss the demise of Bonicelli’s Kitchen, which was located directly across the street. His diagnosis of the cause of death is lack of curb appeal and visibility. I agree. One could pass by regularly without noticing. Too bad. We also discuss the popularity of vintage pinball machines and the idea of a pinball pub. Having good memories of playing pinball in my slightly misspent youth, the idea of combining pinball with beer sounds like a winner. A motivated entrepreneur could likely find an available and appropriate space on our street.

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Eric the proprietor, wearing a vintage biker jacket that once belonged to his father.

Motorcycles are not and never will be my thing, having experienced during college an uneventful ride up 35W which nonetheless terrified me. Nevertheless, I feel comfortable and happy at The Cat and Cobra. If that fringed leather jacket is still there next time I venture in, it may have to come home with me.

Our next stop on Central Avenue NE will be Fair State Brewing Cooperative.

See you soon!

 

As it Stands Today

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This 0.7 mile stretch, no more than a 15-minute walk is home to a surprising number and rich variety of businesses and dwellings. Below you will find what we have as of 10/24/18 in our target area of NE Minneapolis. As changes occur, and they will, the list will be updated. The properties on each block are listed from north to south. Note the number of businesses on redeveloped blocks versus those on blocks with original structures.

UPDATES: (1) This morning an electrical company truck sat outside the one-story vacant property on the southwest corner of Central and 22nd. (2) The “2 Amigos” store has a sign in the window advertising 50% off. Never a good sign. (3) I saw a man entering the empty block where Kim’s Chinese closed down this spring. The building appears run-down, so we will see if it stays or goes. (4) And I received some fascinating and spooky news about the Thorp Building. This will be further investigated.

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KEY: +Subject of Previous Blog Post; * Redeveloped Property; X Vacant
26th– Lowry (East side)
+ Eastside Coop
+ Holy Land Deli
+ Sabor Latino
Boost Mobile
Subway
26th– Lowry (West Side)
+ Al Amir
KCN Nails
X(Class Hair)
Sign Minds
Central Avenue Liquor
Islamic Community Center
Total Wireless
Central Giant Wash
Water Bar and Public Studio
Sarah Jane’s Music School
Duke Albert Lifestyle Collective
Abu Shanach Barbers
NSC Tax/MN Financial Group/Home Realty
+ Aki’s Bread Hus
Fair State Brewing
Recovery Bike
Mecca Linens
Lowry – 24th (East Side)
Empty Lot/Community Garden
Milago’s Salon
Paolitos Sur Envios
+ Khao Hom Thai
Panaderia Ecuartania
Phoenix Graphics
+ Adelita’s Mexican
Botanica y Herberio/Icebox Picture Frame
Jackson Hewitt Taxes
Lowry – 24th (West Side)
Liberty Tax/ Chicago Dollar/Spring Wells Massage and Colonic (Arcana Building)
+ Sen Lak Sen Lai
Dipped and Debris
Durango Bakery
Costa Blanco
+ El Taco Riendo
National Association of Letter Carriers
Metro PCS
+ Anelace Coffee
Los Gallos 3
24th– 23rd (East Side)
+ Football Pizza/Crescent Moon Banquet Hall
*Wells Fargo
*Central Clinic
24th– 23rd (West Side)
US Bank *
Madina Academy Central *
Multicultural Health Clinic *
Amana Dental *
Supermercado
Ecuadorian Embassy
Lions Tae Kwon Do
Amana Family Care
Central Insurance Agency
Language Central
23rd– 22th (East Side)
Martha’s Hair Salon
Divano’s Boutique
Central Flower
Degados PC Repair
El Trebol Express/Rushford Bingo Hall
Valeria’s Carniceria
Hafiz Travel Agency
Salam Barbers
Khalil Accounting
EZ Travel Services/Asly Care
X (IKE Vanity + Attached Vacant)
La Colonia +
Kinsthesia Massage
23rd– 22nd (West Side)
* NW Dental
* Community Connection Partnership
* Cornerstone Studios
* Life Track/Knockout Bodies
* Higgins Insurance
* Hennepin County Library Branch
22nd– 20th (East Side)
* MGM Property Management
* NM Designs
* Shift Massage
* H & R Block
* Rise Vocational Rehab
* Joca Rehab
22nd– 20th West Side
X (One-story brick building)
8-unit apartment building
IChing Arts
Old Brick 4-plex
Central Lock and Safe
20th–19th (East Side)
2nd Precinct Police Station)
20th-19th (West Side)
Cabinet and Flooring Liquidators
* Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association
* VOA Offices
* Monroe Village Senior Rentals
19th–18-1/2 (East Side)
The Mill NE + (former Porky’s Drive-In)
+ X (Bonicelli, 8/18)
Little India Grocery
+ Central Deli and Coffee
19th–18-1/2 (West Side)
LG Travel and Shipping
VIKG Insurance
The Agency Brokerage
The Cat and the Cobra
Magus Books and Herbs
Erlys Hair
18-1/2–18th (East Side)
*Parkway Skyview Apartments (high-rise)
*Senior’s Place/Food Shelf
181/2–18th (West Side)
X (Kim’s Vietnamese, 4/18)
X (Gene’s Barbershop)
X (Central Sauna)
Central Car Wash
House
4-plex
House
Central Dental
18th–Railroad Bridge (East Side)
Central Child Care
X Empty warehouse – lights on inside?
X (Flashlight Vinyl, 10/18)
Gaytee Stained Glass
Minsky Theater
Object Partners – Software developers
18th– Railroad Bridge (West Side)
NAPA Auto Care and Tires
Thorp Building – + Diamond’s Coffee/Tattersal Distillery/Numerous Galleries, etc.

Surveying the Street

IMG_2997On a persistently gray damp Sunday I slow-walk the 8 blocks from 26th Street NE to Diamond’s Coffee Shoppe and back north again, jotting notes on each building and taking photos until my IPhone conks out. A few passersby eyeball me and my little spiral notebook with suspicion. Or maybe it is just curiosity. Whatever. I focus on the detailed documentation of an area which has become my obsession.

Despite having traversed this section of street numerous times, I see what had previously gone unnoticed: a gorgeous old brick 4-plex; an abandoned storefront with a fading sign of a confusing design, “IKE Vanity”, perhaps?; a mysterious-looking stucco-faced building with a vaguely Asian design.

My desire to know more deepens.

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Anyone know what is inside?

My own powers did not see it coming but the Psychic Reader is gone. In her place I discover, “The Cat and Cobra”, a vintage shop offering a collection of Harley tee shirts, boots, jackets, sweaters, and miscellaneous, which opened a couple of weeks ago. To my dismay, and undoubtedly much more so to the former chef/owner, Boncelli’s is out of business. Even the building looks dispirited. img_3786.jpg

The former Bonicelli’s, after two months.

A Central Avenue business person, who will not be named, shared his belief that the owners of the original buildings in this stretch are waiting for redevelopment demand to spread up from the lower end of Central NE. Properties will be sold, existing buildings razed, and the construction of new residential and commercial structures will commence. Many of the current businesses will be priced out. Hence, my effort to document what is here today. And thereby encouraging you (yes, you!) to come and wander amongst the wonders of the street.

Since we are in a somber and sentimental mood, let me share an image taken in front of the former Bonicelli’s.

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An artistic statement or a relic? Either way, I love it.

A couple of blocks are already rebuilt. Tellingly, one houses a bank, another a realty development office, another a jobs program for economically disadvantaged people. A block-long stretch of new construction houses senior apartments, and Volunteers of America offices and programs, including a law office and the defunct-looking Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association.

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All I can say is “blech”.

Contrast that with another structure which I hadn’t noticed until today.

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This 4-plex appears to be winking. As in, “I’m still here!”

This adventure will continue and may result in a book-length exploration of the intersection of people, place, and time in the context of this neighborhood’s evolution.

For those who are as weirdly interested as I am, the next posting will be an all-inclusive list of buildings between 26th and the Thorp Building. Following that, we will visit the newly opened business “The Cat and Cobra”.

 

Aki’s Bread Haus, 2402 Central Avenue NE

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Our destination.

Aki’s Bread Haus is located amidst an area of rich possibility. On the same block you will find Sabor Latino, Holy Land Deli, Al Amir, and Eastside Coop. Walk a block south to Sen Yai Sen Lak, El Taco Riendo, Khao Hom Thai, and Adelita’s. I may just sell my home, rent an apartment above one of the businesses, and dwell in this land of diversity.

According the the friendly woman who is working here today, Aki is the childhood nickname of the owner, who emigrated from Germany,  Although the “Bread Haus” designation helps us to know what is being purveyed (usually enough for this lover of baked goods), we must ask and experience to learn the specifics. Aki’s makes breads, pretzels, pastries, and cookies with a German twist. One can also order the soup of the day.

Yes, I have previously visited Aki’s to assuage a cookie craving. While the cookies are great, today I am looking for lunch. Hence a cup of mushroom barley soup and a LARGE cinnamon bun. Ooftah! This is why I limit my food adventures to once per week and attempt regular exercise in between.

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The server gave me a spelt roll gratis! After contemplating the options, I ate the cinnamon roll and took the spelt roll home.

First, the soup–chewy barley, toothsome cremini mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions, all in a tasty broth with good body. I approve. The coffee is amongst the best I have tasted on my Central Avenue adventures, better than some of the coffee shop brews. And then there is the cinnamon roll–soft yet sturdy, with a great cinnamon flavor, not too sweet nor excessively iced. The spelt roll will be taken home and experienced later. It is cute.

During my visit, while several patrons came to purchase bread and pastries, I was the solo eat-in customer. Come on, people! Abandon your usual haunts and take a drive down Central. You won’t be sorry.

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On display at Aki’s; some items are for sale

As noted in an earlier posting, NE Minneapolis is undergoing rapid change. Next week we will take an observational walk from 18th Street up to 28th Street and back, noting enroute what businesses have come and gone since our adventure began in April.

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Holy Land Deli across the street

Bon voyage!

 

Anelace Coffee, 2402 Central Avenue NE

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My visit to Anelace Coffee is abruptly cut short by the impending arrival of a thunderstorm, combined with the realization that windows are open at home. Prior to departing I bus my half-full coffee cup and empty water glass to the counter. The young man at the counter answers a question and leaves me needing more info. But time is short. A sudden wind burst swirls leaves and debris down Central Avenue.

“What does ‘Anelace’ mean?” I ask.

He looks slightly surprised. “Anelace. The dagger. The name of the dagger is Anelace.”

I had imagined it to be the name of the owner’s daughter, or an amalgam of two names, although what those names might be had not been well considered. Anel and Ace? Ane and Lace? An and Elace? Nope. It’s a dagger, begging the next question–why name a coffee shop after a type of medieval dagger? I will need to return to find that out, as their website gives no clue, and a bit of research uncovers no connection with coffee.

848459501861863A cup of the brew of the day is my order, and I am offered a glass of still or sparkling water. Nice touch. “Sparkling, please.” Scanning the pastry case, I see a single dark chocolate cookie, a single croissant, a single scone, many bagels, and several squarish pastries with almonds on top. I inquire and learn that they are a type of brioche. Morning, maybe. Afternoon, no. I stick with the beverages.

The seating spans the length of the south side of the space. On the right is the service area and counter seating. A wooden bench against the wall spans three tables. As a view of the proceedings is essential to my work, a seat at the bench is in order. The back is quite straight. Good posture, Gail. Seven solo patrons focus on laptops or phones. No conversation is happening at Anelace except between the two workers, who also spend a lot of time involved with their phones.

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The decor is spare with a provisional feel. White subway tile, black fixtures. Not much in the way of decoration. The building is old, evidenced by the back wall of rough brick and the substantial oak door.

img_3690.jpgMy reason for choosing a coffee shop today is the need to complete some online training for work and to write an agenda for the upcoming gathering of a group I facilitate. Problem numero uno–the training requires listening and I didn’t bring earbuds. Problem numero dos–the coffee, dispensed from a thermos pot is not super-hot, and tastes stale. Why this is a distraction I am not certain. But it prevents me from getting settled in and comfy.

Then comes the storm. Have you noticed that you can feel a storm as it approaches? I don’t mean when you are standing outside in the wind being pelted by small stones and plastic debris, I mean within yourself. A tingling vibrational awareness of atmospheric change. Yes? I feel it and look out the large front window. Gray-white swirls and rags and globs of cloud speed across the sky.

I visit the restroom (when in doubt, go) and ask the workers, who are looking at their phones, if a storm is coming. “Yes!” My marching orders arrive and I pause only to ask about the name “Anelace”.

Hence the half-cup left upon departure.

Back soon…