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Chef’s Dish: Bardo Opens in Northeast Mpls.

The stylish Bardo has taken over the space vacated by Rachel’s in NE Minneapolis.

Remy Pettus is one of the chefs hoping to keep Northeast Minneapolis on the culinary map. With his new restaurant Bardo, he’s putting down roots in the increasingly popular neighborhood.

“It’s growing and growing fast,” the Minneapolis-born chef says of the setting. “It’s an exciting community to be entering.”

Bardo is opening its doors in the former Rachel's space. Its name comes from the Tibetan word "bardo" which translates as the state between death and rebirth. It seems Pettus hopes to exist somewhere between those two planes, as the restaurant will be changing menus every couple months.

“It will evolve with the clientele and the neighborhood,” says Pettus. “Restaurants, to me, are like a conversation with the culture within the neighborhood.”

With a style described as modern American, Bardo accompanies its evolving menu with craft cocktails and a curated wine list.

Chef/Owner Remy Pettus

“I try to be creative, with a very seasonal focus on quality ingredients,” says Pettus of the food. “We’re developing flavors without an excess of fats. Clean, herb-driven, spice-driven dishes that aren’t going to make you take a nap.”

The protein on the menu comes in half sizes for diners looking to try more than one dish. Reading the menu leaves you imagining the colors the dishes will display, with ingredients across the spectrum.

While Pettus is just starting to figure out what Bardo is bringing to the conversation, he’s hoping it’s a new perspective. “There’s nothing in this sort of genre of restaurants that’s been around here,” Pettus says. “From the response I’ve gotten in passing, people are really excited to have something like this in the area.”

Bardo is also implementing tipless service, a move Pettus says wasn’t in reaction to the recent minimum wage increase, but rather as a way to improve the dining experience.

“The law changing has brought a lot of attention to the way servers are being paid and it’s bringing exposure,” Pettus says. He sees a lot of benefits in tipless service, including a shared responsibility among servers and an emphasis on experience over upselling.

Before opening of Bardo, Pettus’ story reads like many other Midwestern chefs. After leaving the University of Madison in 2003, he ditched the traditional college route, beginning his career working for free in Minneapolis kitchens. He took what he learned to the Culinary Institute of New York. “I wanted to work on knife skills before culinary school so I could focus on cuisine there,” Pettus recalls.

After school, he worked in New York, Chicago and Sonoma Valley before moving back to Minnesota in 2009, where he’s worked at Cosmos and helped open Eastside. Bardo has been in the back of his mind for years.

“It’s just been sort of a culmination of my career and experiences,” Pettus says. “It’s something I’ve been working towards and developing in my mind over 7 to 8 years.”

Bardo opened the last weekend of August with just enough time to enjoy the last breaths of summer on its patio. “I want it to be a special event in an everyday situation,” Pettus says. 

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