A WINNING COMBINATION

Barnes & Noble’s new kitchen concept hit the Galleria this fall, making book-lovers’ and foodies’ dreams come true

Images by Aubrey Schield

By Aubrey Schield

Perusing the bookshelves at my favorite book store just got even better, thanks to a gourmet restaurant. Barnes & Noble Kitchen, located within the Edina Galleria location has officially set the bar for bookstores. And it’s a high one.

I’ve always been prone to spend hours inside these bookstores, leafing through favorite authors’ new works, reading back covers and skimming prologues. While I enjoy searching for hidden titles in used bookstores like Magers & Quinn and Half Priced Books, sometimes it’s nice to pick up a slightly-more-expensive copy of a new bestseller. Barnes & Noble’s expansive stores and lengthy inventory make them perfect for these outings, and now their recently renovated location in the Galleria amps it up even further with the unveiling of the Barnes & Noble Kitchen.

The location has an airy aesthetic, reminiscent of an Apple store. While I rather enjoyed getting “lost” within the claustrophobic shelves of Barnes & Nobles’ yesteryear, I figure the sleek interior design mirrors changing times, and it’s something I could get used to. Not to mention, it gives you full view of the shopping section from your table in the Kitchen.

Interior of Barnes & Noble Kitchen

With seating for only 100 (they have tables, bar stools and loungy seating for all types of relaxation), the Kitchen is intimate, despite its modern feel. You would assume this is a seat-yourself situation. And you’d be wrong. With the exception of the walk-up coffee and libations bar, a host will seat you in the dining section. And while the atmosphere and service are top brass, the menu is really the thing that shines.

I visited the Kitchen to see for myself what all the hullabaloo was all about. Let me tell you, it wasn’t for nothing. The menu was crafted by a man named Sheamus Feeley—you may recognize the name from his Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch restaurant in California. Feeley’s menu features ingredient-driven, American fare with a perfect balance of Midwest approachability and five-star-restaurant extravagance.

I ordered the hummus plate as an appetizer and was pleasantly surprised by homemade hummus (my waitress told me they go heavy on the tahini, making a uniquely creamy version) and homemade lavash toast. And though Twin Citians have been gushing about the brisket burger (and for good reason, it’s delicious), I decided to try the salmon, which is served on a bed of tabbouleh salad and punctuated with a basil, pesto-like dressing, next. To call this food fresh would be a terrible injustice. The Kitchen is so dedicated to using brand spanking new ingredients that they don’t even have a freezer. (Well, they do have a tiny one to store ice cream that gets dolloped on a seasonal fruit crisp.) To top off my dining experience, I had the butterscotch pot de crème dessert. The creamy, delightfully sweet dessert is perfect for two (I still have leftovers waiting for me at home).

As you may have guessed, the price tag is not quite as friendly as the wait staff. While the Barnes & Noble Kitchen might look like a studying college student’s dream, the price point is, unfortunately, it’s most obvious gourmet restaurant calling card. However, this shouldn’t be an issue for folks shopping in the Galleria, where high-end brands like Tory Burch and The North Face find a home.

Overall, I highly recommend the recently opened Barnes & Noble Kitchen. Everything off the menu is good, and dining with a new book in hand is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Now let’s hope they open another location soon!

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