MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In many ways, Edwards Dessert Kitchen looks like any other well-funded new restaurant in the red-hot North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis. There’s the critically acclaimed pastry chef Christina Kaelberer (who grew up in the Twin Cities), and an absolute knock-out of a space that’s eminently Instagram-worthy.
But there is a twist to this sweet story.
“We know that trends start in restaurants,” Kaelberer said.
And so does the owner of this restaurant: Schwan’s. Yeah that Schwan’s, known for its home delivery trucks, ice cream, frozen pizzas and the namesake of the restaurant: Edwards Pie.
“It’s really been great, super-supportive company with big ideas they want to bring to market, and that’s why we’re doing this,” Kaelberer explained.
Everything was intentionally designed to make Edwards Dessert Kitchen non-corporate. It feels fresh, and exciting and so does the menu. It’s divided by type of dessert, not by flavor profile.
“Instead of going into Italian dessert, French dessert, American dessert, let’s think of the forms of dessert. It’s ice cream, dessert-in-a-jar, it’s plated desserts,” Kaelberer said.
As for the plated desserts, there’s a mango coconut cream pie puff with lemongrass in the pastry cream, and fresh mangos inside. The passion fruit soufflé is sweet and tart and creamy and gorgeous.
“Our aspiration is to raise our credibility in food,” Polly Madsen, director of culinary innovation for Schwan’s, said. “It’s completely unusual for a big company to invest in this way and that’s what makes it special.”
The chef and Madsen work as a team: the menu and the restaurant is Kaelberer’s vision, but Madsen’s decades of experience in food marketing bring a lot of resources a typical restaurant wouldn’t have.
“The magic that happens here is that were working as a team. I study the data and bring up nuggets that I see and say, ‘Christina, might we try this?'” said Madsen.
“It’s direct consumer feedback. It’s seeing the person eating it and saying ‘Yes’ or ‘Absolutely no!'” Kaelberer said.
So far the gluten-free chocolate chip cookie has been extremely popular — as Madsen said, “People love chocolate, and they love cookies” — but the menu touches on different trends in flavor.
There’s curry flavors in the traditional scotcharoo, ancho chili on the caramel corn, yuzu in a pudding. “It’s a beautiful, eclectic mix,” Madsen noted.
“Can we push yuzu into the market, can we push passion fruit into the market? Maybe? Maybe not? That’s what we’re trying to do, what we’re trying to find out,” said Kaelberer.
Edwards Dessert Kitchen
200 Washington Ave N.
Closed Mondays; Tuesday-Thursday 2p-10p; Friday 2p-12am; Saturday 10a-12p; Sunday 10a-10p