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Acadia relocates, redesigns and recycles

The caf

With a pint of Rush River Amber Ale at my fingertips, I think about the old Acadia – lively, with an interesting mix of folks coming in and out, and muffled music drifting through the walls of their showroom next door.

Acadia Cafe

WHERE: 329 Cedar Ave. S. Corner of Cedar and Riverside, Minneapolis
HOURS: Daily 6 p.m. ñ 1 a.m. With lunchtime hours soon

The new Acadia on the corner of Cedar and Riverside is a place for beer lovers. Start with its 28 taps, add to that 40 varieties of bottled beer on the way, and you’ve got a lot to choose from. Don’t expect Miller Lite or Budweiser – Acadia serves lots of local and regional beers, along with specialty imports rivaling St. Paul’s Muddy Pig, a pub known for its 40-plus taps. As Ted Lowell, manager and part owner of the café told me, “We’re going for the drink better, not drink more kind of crowd.”

I witnessed what he meant when I stopped in last Saturday night for a burger and a beer before going out. As I was munching on the rest of my fries, which, by the way, were not too shabby, two middle-aged men, their hair graying, walked in. One set his coat down at a booth just in front of mine. The other walked over to the long steel rail of tap beers and let out a gleeful laugh upon noticing something he liked.

A big change for the new Acadia is offering hot food; at the old spot a customer could only pick up a cold sandwich or muffin. Now there’s a full kitchen, serving fish and chips, burgers and other bar food.

When I stopped by I had a mushroom and blue cheese burger; it came with a pickle spear and some of their uniquely seasoned fries. The fries were good, but for the $7.25 price tag I wish there had been a few more in the basket.

The ranch-raised beef in the burger reminded me of burgers I had in the U.K., where most of the cattle are grass-fed. As Americans we are used to corn-fed beef which has more fat and a very different taste from the leaner grass-fed kind. If you have ever tried venison, grass-fed beef is comparable in taste, but not as gamey. To put it simply, Acadia’s burgers are not your average restaurant burgers. The café kitchen is open nightly from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., but Lowell is planning to open for lunch as this article goes to print, and eventually for breakfast.

The old Acadia location on the corner of Franklin and Nicollet, depending on which direction you were coming from, marked the beginning or the end of Eat Street just south of Downtown. Their new spot on the corner of Cedar and Riverside certainly is bigger, although now they don’t have a separate showroom and bar area like at the old location. Acadia’s patrons can enjoy live and all original music emanating from the stage, which was built from the old showrooms’ risers, from anywhere in the café.

Recycled material plays a big part in the new Acadia. Lowell informed me the bar was welded together out of the lighting rigs from the old showroom and then faced with solid wood. Lowell shares ownership of the café with his wife Julianne and their business partner, Jeff Radnich.

The new décor is friendly, with a rustic modern feel. Sleek metal taps, a stained wood bar and coffee bag backed booths fit comfortably within the confines of the rust red walls.

The new location certainly matches, and perhaps surpasses, the old spot’s people watching appeal, with tall picture windows running the length of the café’s Cedar Avenue side.

Another addition that is sure to be a hit come summertime is a patio in the back beside KFAI studios.

Lowell is planning to have a couple grand reopening parties at some point in March; no specific dates have been set. He said that one of the parties is going to be for “beer aficionados,” as he plans to offer a rare keg of Surly Darkness from 2006.

Darkness is a limited release Surly brew (only 25 barrels were made) that created a queue at the Brooklyn Center brewery last fall in anticipation of purchasing two of the 480 and 750 milliliters bottles on sale.

“We kept it for a special occasion, no one else has it,” Lowell said.

The other “musical reopening” is still in the works, but the new Acadia has found a prime location and will surely settle into the neighborhood in no time.

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