MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The setting: the lower level of a luxury mall in Edina, Minnesota. The plot: a struggle for survival. The characters: a bookstore in a world where half-off bestsellers are easy to buy online, and a sit-down restaurant when many of us are eating on the run.
“It’s counter-intuitive,” laughed Chef Sheamus Feeley, a restaurant consultant hired to develop the concept and the menu behind Barnes & Noble Kitchen.
It’s a beautiful, sit-down restaurant in the brand new Barnes & Noble at the Galleria Mall in Edina.
“As I was a young cook coming up there were only really two ways you could learn. One was go directly work for someone, or the other thing is to get your nose in a book and learn that way,” Feeley said.
He points out that our great authors have often been influenced by great food, or at least drink.
“If you think about Hemingway, Steinbeck, what were they doing when they were writing or drafting? They were doing it in a café,” he said.
If not influenced by food, they were influenced by drink. Barnes & Noble Kitchen has that too: six local beers on tap, 22 wines by the glass. It is a bold move away from a predictable cafe format.
“What ultimately we decided on, was the fact that we’re gonna make the biggest statement and the biggest quality statement by doing a full service restaurant. And doing something that really no one else in the space is doing to this degree,” he said.
Barnes & Noble Kitchen has even received a page-turner of a review. The Star Tribune’s Rick Nelson’s review was headlined: “all the makings of a bestseller.”
“I thought, ‘We’ll probably never get an actual review.’ But it was rally the best surprise that we could have woken up to,” Feeley said.
The kitchen cranks out familiar food, but it’s executed really well. The burger is chuck and brisket, perfectly seasoned with nice gooey cheese.
“Chuck has the right intermuscular fat; brisket gives depth of flavor, for a stake-eater type of burger,” he said.
Hummus leans on tahini not chickpeas. It’s creamy, earthy, and fresh served with poached veggies. The Italian burrata cheese is served with almost caramelized and dehydrated tomatoes.
“If you look at hummus, guacamole, burrata: the thing is going through every single bit to make it the best you can be,” Feeley said.
The Edina location of Barnes & Noble Kitchen is an early printing of this story. There are now three around the country with more on the way. Chef Feeley said the goal is not to be just a great bookstore restaurant.
“Our goal is to be a great restaurant,” he said.
Barnes & Noble Kitchen
3230 Galleria, Edina