By Jason DeRusha

LINDEN HILLS, Minn. (WCCO) — A Minneapolis restaurant has been named one of the 21 best new restaurants in the country.

Eater just gave it that honor, and people already are flying in from around the country to visit chef Erick Harcey’s Upton 43 in Linden Hills.

Upton 43 is a fascinating juxtaposition. It is ultra-modern, from the inventive plating to the high-tech equipment. And yet, there is Harcey standing over a 600 degree burning hot fire.

“The smell is awesome, it makes you feel you’re walking into a cabin,” Harcey said.

Upton 43 is a reflection of Chef Harcey: His Swedish grandfather was a chef. His parents raised him on a southern Minnesota farm.

“Grew up around farming, being in the country, so we celebrated meals every chance we could,” he said.

That country sense combines with an urban, clean, Scandanavian design sense at Upton.

The food is a similar marriage: very modern, but influenced by that rural childhood.

The open-faced sandwiches called Smorgas take country ham and put it on top of mussel butter and citrus.

One sandwich is “house-cured gravlax with egg butter — a lot like an egg salad but no mayo, tons of butter instead.”

The mash-up pairs a familiar flavor with a surprise.

Innovation here is also on the table.The restaurant has custom caddies for forks and knives.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

While it’s fine dining in front, the back of the restaurant is a take-out chicken joint called The Dirty Bird.

“It allows you to be more creative on another end, yet have food that reaches the masses. But it’s still — great chefs stand behind it, it’s great food. We’re not going to put something out we don’t love,” Harcey said.

Gorgeous roasted chicken with simple sides.

“There’s a lot of square footage in restaurants, and to me why can’t you generate money in them 24 hours a day,” Harcey said.

That lets Harcey do things like brine amazing pork chops in a mixture loaded with hay.

A modern experiment: so new, yet so old.

“I want it to feel like you’re at my kitchen table,” Harcey said.

Upton has a killer weekend brunch.

Harcey’s first restaurant is Victory 44 in north Minneapolis — that just celebrated 10 years in business.

Jason DeRusha