Kim Eslinger
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646-594-0595
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Covering life, work, and play in the Historic Mill District and Downtown Minneapolis Riverfront neighborhoods. Have an opinion, local news or events to share?  Contact us.

Sunday
Jan012012

2011 Mill City Flashback - The Zen Box Izakaya Experience

Zen Box Izakaya(602 Washington Avenue South) is now open, and it was so worth the wait!  From the moment you walk in and are greeted with a cheer of “Irrasaimase!” (“Welcome!”), until you leave to chants of “Arigato gozaimashita” (“Thank you very much for coming!") - it's a wonderful experience.

Zen Box Izakaya

Zen Box Izakaya

Many people know owners John and Lina Goh (below) from their popular lunch-only skyway location.   Per Lina, "We are very blessed with a group of loyal fans whom embraced us from the beginning when we came from San Francisco to open Zen Box Japanese Eatery in the skyway. They are one of the reasons why we opened the second location, so that they can also share their love for good food with their friends and family."

Zen Box Izakaya

She added, "We simply love to eat, and love to share with others our passion for Japanese comfort food. We believe that Food brings people together and good food comes from the heart."

We started off with Japanese beers exclusive to Zen Box - Asahi and Hitachino Ginger.  Zen Box has created their own version of pub nibbles, Buckwheat Soba Sticks, lightly fried for a crispy texture and seasoned with sea salt.

Zen Box Izakaya

Our server, Heidi, recommended four items for our first visit, starting with the Crab Croquettes with Spicy Mayo ("Big Brother" Kani Korokke on the menu) and Tuna Poke', a melt-in-your-mouth marinated raw tuna with Poke' dressing.   Both were absolutely delish.

Zen Box Izakaya

Zen Box Izakaya

Next, the Zen Box Short Ribs.  The flavor reminded me of a steak grilled to perfection - mmmmm.

Zen Box Izakaya

Finally, the Chicken Kara-Age (Crispy Chicken) with Kamikaze Sauce.  Words can't describe the incredible delicate crunch - I don't recall having anything like it.  Again, the accompanying sauce was delicious.

Zen Box Izakaya

In addition to creating a relaxing atmosphere and wonderful food, John and Lina have assembled a staff who share their passion.   Beyond the lively greeting at the door (which immediately sets a "feel good" tone), the servers are attentive, helpful and genuinely excited to discuss the menu and make suggestions. 

Zen Box Izakaya

Zen Box Izakaya

Zen Box Izakaya

So now the dilemma we're faced with is what to have on our next visit.  While there are many tasty items on the menu, we'll be tempted to order the same four dishes again - they were just soooo good.

Per Lina, most of the lunch and dinner menu items are available for take-out, with the exception of the Ramen dishes.  They are currently working on a take-out menu.

You can reach Zen Box at 612-332-3936, and follow them on Facebook.  Check their website for the lunch and dinner menus.

Sunday
Jan012012

2011 Mill City Flashback - "Spider" John Koerner & Tony Glover at Mill City Live [Video]

A slight breeze, not too hot, blue sky overhead, seated in the historic Washburn A Mill ruins - what a perfect night to watch two Minnesota Folk Music legends perform.  Oh, and it was the first day back in business for the Mill City Museum after the State shutdown to boot.

Spider John and Tony Glover treated us to a 24 song concert of "'1960's bar style" folk music.  The acoustics were surprisingly good for an outdoor setting, excellent in fact.  Technically, the production team pulled off the show without a glitch.  Here's one of many videos we'll be posting over the coming weeks:

Sunday
Jan012012

2011 Mill City Flashback - Cub FOODS Distributes 2,000 Thanksgiving Meals for People Serving People families as Part of Unity in Community Campaign

The holidays are a time when families look to celebrate the joy of the season with a traditional turkey meal that includes all of the trimmings.  But for those living on the fringes of homelessness and hunger, it’s difficult to envision securing even the simplest of meals.

This Thanksgiving season, thanks to Cub FOODS, 2,000 free turkey meals will be distributed to formerly homeless families and clients of People Serving People (PSP), Simpson Housing Services, Project Pride for Living and St. Stephen’s Human Services at a special distribution event.

During a November 21 event at People Serving People, 150 families, many of whom used to stay at PSP, were invited to recieve frozen turkeys and dinner ingredients.  Hundreds more families who did not attend the event will receive gift certificates.

“Homeless families have a long journey to stability.  Through the “Unity in Community” effort, Cub is helping PSP and our partner organizations give these families hope for tomorrow and a good start on the road to recovery.  Indeed, Thanksgiving is the one day where everyone deserves a place at the table,” emphasized Daniel Gumnit, CEO, People Serving People.

Special Guests Included:                 
- Mr. Sherman Patterson, Policy Aide for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak
- Cathy Ten Broeke, Coordinator, End Homelessness, Minneapolis/Hennepin County
- Mary Tingerthal, Commissioner, Minnesota Housing Finance Agency

MinnPost posted a story yesterday on one of the families attending this event.  It's a great example of the difference PSP and events like Unity in Community make.

Sunday
Jan012012

2011 Mill City Flashback - Oktoberfest at Mill City Farmers Market

Oktoberfest was celebrated at the Market and Museum on September 24. The Elk River German Band entertained people on Chicago Mall, and The Bavarian Musikmeisters provided music in the Ruins courtyard.

Mill City Farmers Market - Oktoberfest 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market - Oktoberfest 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011

Mill City Farmers Market September 24, 2011 

Saturday
Dec312011

2011 Mill City Flashback - Breakfast at the Newly Opened Crooked Pint Ale House

The Crooked Pint Ale House, 501 Washington Avenue South, opened at 7am Saturday, September 10.   We dropped in for breakfast before heading off to the Mill City Farmers Market.  

Crooked Pint Ale House Opening Day

I opted for the caramel apple walnut french toast (above), which had a nice apple/sauce/walnut ratio.

Crooked Pint Ale House

They did a beautiful job renovating the former 501 Club space.  Removing the wall between the two levels really opened it up, and the new stage area is a huge improvement - both in size and location.

Crooked Pint Ale House Opening Day

Crooked Pint Ale House Opening Day

We spoke with Manager Matt Saffert, who filled us in on some of the upcoming and ongoing events and activities. Check out the schedule online.

Crooked Pint Ale House Opening Day

Crooked Pint Ale House Opening Day

Welcome to the neighborhood, Crooked Pint Ale House, and thank you for bringing us early morning weekend breakfast option!

Saturday
Dec312011

2011 Mill City Flashback - Canines Celebrate 2011 Pride Parade

Hundreds of 4-legged supporters turned out for the 2011 Pride Parade:

Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011

Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011

The Pride Parade 2011