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About Town: A Peek into Uptown’s New Scena

I was waiting with anticipation to get a look a the newest Paul Dzubnar project, Scena Tavern, created with his golden consulting chef team of Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson (who both worked with Tim McKee at Sea Change). And I wasn’t disappointed.

Dzubnar is the multi-concept restaurateur behind Green Mill and the Crooked Pint Ale Houses, as well as the new Harriet’s Inn, which opened last month at 40th Street and Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis. He is also the new owner of the building that housed the old Sapor on North Washington Avenue, soon to be the site of Brut, the restaurant coming in spring 2016 from Malone and Anderson.

At Scena, the two-story bar and balcony dining room space is kind of a flip-flop of the restaurant on the opposite corner, Coup d’état. Both are street-level spots at the Walkway apartment development at Lake Street and Girard Avenue, and both have big round bars and open kitchens with an open balcony dining area looking over the ground floor from above. I see when summer comes Scena will also have huge sidewalk cafe space, too.

I loved Scena’s blue neon circular bar and sparkling starry lights—very cozy for such a big space. I also spotted a front wall with a fireplace, across from the crudo bar and open fire oven for the Italian flatbreads, called piadini on the menu.

During our visit I tried just a few things from a menu with half a dozen categories to choose from, including crudo, appetizers, cheese, piadini, pastas, and what they call “more substantial” (steaks and fish)—which means more expensive. It was also fun to see fresh baked bread on display and served complimentary.

I spotted Malone behind the counter with the team and also Anderson keeping track for the crudo bar setup. After training they will move on, leaving Chef Marc Paavola in charge. (He was at the Afton Inn, Union, and Sea Change, too.)

It was also fun to see Bill Summerville—previously sommelier/managing director at La Belle Vie and GM of Spoon and Stable—on site. He set up the wine list, while Nick Kosevich of Bittercube developed the cocktail and bar program. Choose from lots of colorful cocktails, plus eight creative martinis at $11 each (thanks for showing the prices, guys), and two pages of gins.

Welcome to Uptown, Scena, and a toast to the holidays!

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