Rye, newly opened in the former Auriga space (North of the intersection of Hennepin Ave. and Franklin Ave.), has staked its claim as the first delicatessen in Minneapolis to declare itself Jewish. With veteran chef Tobie Nidetz and restaurateur David Weinstein at the helm, Rye specializes in contemporary, high quality, locally sourced food made from scratch.
What sets Rye apart from its competitors like Mort's and Cecil's is that Rye boasts a full bar. You might wonder if a neighborhood deli that also dishes up French toast and porridge can mesh with the Twin Cities drinking crowd; one step inside Rye's welcoming yet sharply designed space, however and you'll wonder why restaurants don't operate this way more often.
The flow of the venue and the wrap-around room ensure that families have ample space, sunlight and a wall-sized chalkboard for their little ones up front. Separated by the counter and deli case, Rye's bar has a distinct vibe from the dining area, so those wanting to imbibe can enjoy flat-screen TVs, tall tables and adults-only conversation near the back of the venue. There's also a third seating area with smaller tables, banquettes, quirky artwork and soft lamplight that makes an ideal escape for friends catching up over coffee or independent eaters working through lunch with a laptop.
With breakfast, lunch, dinner and kids' menus, Rye offers endless options for every palate. Traditional Jewish noshes like cabbage borscht, cheese blintzes, matzo balls, bagels and lox make an appearance, of course, but so do modern twists like grass fed burgers on toasted bialy, challah grilled cheese and the Vera Schwartz sandwich (chopped liver, red onion, chopped egg on rye).
You really can't go wrong at Rye as long as you include bread in your meal. Baked in-house, the bagels are love at first bite. The sandwich breads are robust and the bialys deliciously dense. The tabouleh packs a wallop of parsley, mint and onion; a few forkfuls are all you'll need to feel satisfied. Likewise, the corned beef sandwich we sampled packed enough meat for two meals and that's without all the fixings! For those with stealthier stomachs, we dare you to polish off a plate of Poutine (crispy fries, cheese curds and gravy with optional smoked meat) or the Deli Debris (bagel chips, smoked meat, cheese, hot and sweet peppers).
Prices are moderate and service was attentive. As far as first impressions go, Rye is as stunning for the eyes as it is for the tongue. The owners' vision of a family friendly deli that doubles as a hip hang-out has certainly come to fruition. Here's hoping Rye becomes a staple on the Uptown eatery scene.
Published on Metromix Twin Cities in Dec. 2011