Some fine restaurants allow patrons to bring their own bottle (BYOB) perhaps as a favor to wine aficionados who may want to enjoy the evening with wine in their own collection from a favorite region, varietal type or method of manufacture. Nevertheless, most fine dining establishments apply certain limitations such as the number of bottles or corkage fees. If your senses crave first-class food and service with your preferred vintage presented in a tasteful, comfortable setting, check out these seven select restaurants that allow patrons to bring their own.
Lucia’s Restaurant and Wine Bar
1432 W. 31st St.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Corkage fee: Complimentary corkage of $15 per bottle of wine on any day. Decanters are available.
Chef Lucia Watson has devoted her life’s activities to French fare, farming and sustainability issues. Earning a James Beard Nomination for best chef in the Midwest in 2004, 2005 and 2006 is no small feat. Lucia now owns a home in France after earning a BA in French, has a first level Master Sommelier certificate, has learned the culinary trade in numerous restaurants and has written two books. Be assured, her modish Uptown restaurant is genuine French American, working around foods available locally with the seasons. Any Francophile connoisseur would delight in sipping his or her own Gallic wine with Lucia’s own creations. One may also choose to sample Lucia’s food and drink choices at the Wine Bar on a Sunday when selected wines are only $15 per bottle.
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7901 34th Ave. S.
Bloomington, MN 55425
Corkage fee: Patrons may bring two bottles of wine free. Each bottle after is $15.
Certified angus beef, interesting tasting plates and a generous corkage policy make Woolley’s an outstanding value as a dining experience. Oenophiles may delight in sipping their favorite Burgundy with Chef Peter Christenson’s diablo bites appetizer or the elk sausage tasting plate. Chef Peter, a graduate of Culinary Institute of America in New York who developed his skills at the Mendakota Country Club and the Golden Valley Country Club, is demonstrating his culinary expertise with an interesting menu and free cooking classes presented quarterly at the restaurant location in the Embassy Suites Minneapolis Airport Hotel. Woolley’s is easy to get to, being located just off Interstate 494 at the 34th Street exit.
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8400 Normandale Lake Blvd.
Bloomington, MN 55437
Corkage fee: Complimentary corkage of $18 for any bottle not on Kincaid’s wine list.
No other restaurant offers chic dining in such an open, uplifting atmosphere. Start with oysters, clams or calamari washed down with your own bottle of Pinot Blanc or a glass of Moscato off the menu. Progress to the main course by taking advantage of this classic American grill menu by ordering sirloin or filet mignon served rare with a Pinot Noir or medium rare with your favorite Cabernet. Kincaid’s offers ideal settings for the power lunch, a romantic dinner or special business gatherings.
Heartland Restaurant and Farm Direct Market
289 E. 5th St.
St. Paul, MN 55101
Corkage fee: Heartland allows patrons to bring in their own wine for $20 per bottle with no limit on the number of bottles.
“They’re really hot right now,” says Mollie Mitchler, St. Paul Chamber of Commerce Director of Communications, adding that, “Once again, Chef/Proprietor Lenny Russo was recently named a James Beard Award Finalist.” While the corkage fee may deter most patrons from bringing their own bottle, Heartland is the kind of restaurant where adventuresome wine collectors can test pairing their own assorted varieties with some of the best cuisine in the Metro area.
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Saffron Restaurant & Lounge
123 N. 3rd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Corkage fee: $20 per bottle with a limit of two bottles.
This Warehouse District Mediterranean restaurant is an absolute adventure in wine and food pairings. The menu is unique, the wine list is diverse and the wait staff consists of connoisseurs of balancing flavors, enhancing aromas and strengthening the overall essence of the eating experience. Saffron even has a pairings app available for your iPhone. Brothers Saed and Sameh Wadi have honed this to be a customer encounter unlike any other in the metro area.
2919 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Corkage fee: $25
Uptown’s upscale and contemporary Asian Social House restaurant is new and making an impact. The eclectic menu offers such items as a variety of sushi, creative Korean tacos, American-style egg rolls and crème brulee for dessert. The wine list is not as extensive as a four star restaurant but the prices are reasonable, especially when ordering a combination of two meals with a bottle of wine. Marketing and Sales Manager Erin Lemke says, “We already have a variety of great wines for sale by the bottle, but if someone had a very special bottle that they wanted presented for their dinner, we can arrange that for a corking fee of $25.”
111 Kellogg Blvd. E.
St. Paul, MN 55101
Corkage fee: Will serve your own bottle of wine for $18.
With an ample selection of artisan sake, local craft beers and small production wines, it is not likely a wine connoisseur would have a reason to bring a bottle to this trendy Chino-Latino fusion restaurant. Owner Son Wong says, “We switched distributors recently in order to carry very specialized wines not common to other restaurants, especially wines from Washington and New York.” Obviously, wine selection guides are fairly silent on pairings with mock duck, pork belly poppers or octopus. Therefore, one is more likely to prefer Señor Wong’s sake imported from small family-owned producers in Japan. Brothers Son and Lam Truong have put together a daring menu in a pleasing ambience that would be attractive to hip restaurant goers. The atmosphere is dark and well decorated like a trendy lounge with cool music. Live local bands really rock the place on Fridays and Saturdays with no cover. Be aware, the restaurant is not open for lunch on weekends.
Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.