MINNEAPOLIS -- Recently, Andrew Zimmern, four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, writer and teacher along with Michael McDermott and Jason Merritt of McDermott Restaurant Group, announced the opening of Lucky Cricket (1607 West End Blvd, St Louis Park, MN 55416), a venture that transplants Zimmern's favorite Chinese foods to his home base of Minneapolis. The full-service 200-seat dining concept, with a menu composed of small plates and sharable dishes from several Chinese provinces, was developed by Zimmern with McDermott (Partner/President and CEO, McDermott Restaurant Group) and Merritt (Partner and COO, McDermott Restaurant Group), who separately created and operated concepts such as Kona Grill and Rojo Mexican Grill. The restaurant will be the first of several Lucky Cricket locations across the country.
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"Opening this restaurant has always been a dream," said Zimmern, "My life's work has always been about exposing people to different cultures through food, so my goal with Lucky Cricket to take guests on a journey and showcase the authentic flavors of the Chinese foods that I love."
McDermott and Merritt added, "We are so excited to bring this concept to Minnesota and to partner with Andrew. This concept has so much growth potential and we are eager to see where it can go."
Inspired by his extensive travels in China over the last 25 years (some seen on his hit shows like Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods"), Zimmern along with Chef Consultant Alex Ong and JP Samuelson (Culinary Director of Passport Hospitality, Zimmern's restaurant and food retail development company), created a menu for Lucky Cricket that offers a sampling of small plates and shareable dishes from provinces such as Guangdong, Fujian, Hunan, Shandong, Guangzhou and Sichuan.
Signature Dim Sum includes Sheng Jian Bao, Duck Shu Mai, Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf and Braised Pork Ribs. Soup options include Roasted Duck Congee and Mak's Shrimp Wonton Soup, and diners may also enjoy noodle dishes such as Dan Dan Noodles, Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles and Hand Pulled Xian Cumin Lamb Noodles. Shareable plates that offer heartier fare include Hong Kong Waffles with Shanghai Fried Chicken, Char Sui BBQ Pork, and Whole Steamed Fish. Signature desserts include Lychee-Coconut Snow, Sticky Rice with Mango and a Hong Kong Waffle.
Inspired by Zimmern's family connections to Trader Vic's founder Vic Bergeron and his memories of years spent at the famed New York bar, Lucky Cricket's beverage program is a colorful tiki bar. Designed by Dean Hurst, an award-winning mixologist known for his work as Spirits Coordinator for the annual Hukilau Tiki Convention and consulting roles with restaurants such as Bern's Steakhouse and The Bedford, Lucky Cricket's ode evokes the cheerful, escapist aesthetic of the traditional tiki bar with a drinks menu that features tropical drinks and Asian-inspired cocktails. Served in traditional drinkware from Tiki Farm, the classic drinks were selected for their unique combination of flavors and aim to mostly stay true to the original recipes with just a few Asian-influenced twists. Signature cocktails include Mai Tai, Three Dots and a Dash, Mr. Bali Hai, Saturn and Luck's Path. Lucky Cricket's beverage program includes an extensive rum collection with 40 different varieties, an assortment of spirits made locally in Minnesota, and a comprehensive wine and beer list. There is also a menu of creative and sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks.
For the design of the 200-seat dining concept, Zimmern worked with David Shea and Tanya Spaulding of Shea Design, an award-winning Minneapolis-based architecture and design firm experienced in designing high profile restaurant concepts (Spoon & Stable, Rosa Mexicano). Influenced by Asian street food culture, Lucky Cricket's design incorporates found items, a vibrant palette and an eclectic mix of furnishings to create layers, textures, unique focal points and a fun aesthetic. In addition to the main dining room, the restaurant also has a patio and storefront, tiki bar and private dining rooms. As a nod to the harmonious power of yin yang, the restaurant's contemporary design is juxtaposed with traditional Chinese imagery, and industrial and natural materials are both used to great effect. Upon entering the restaurant, guests will be immediately transported as they encounter an oversized yellow "Lucky Cricket" cage near the hostess stand, as well as a large-scale hand-painted dragon on the concrete floor.
The lively 115-seat main dining room extends the street market theme with a central gold banquette positioned beneath a hanging sculpture of found fishing baskets and traps. Floor to ceiling bamboo poles are interwoven across the ceiling, ultimately creating a wall dividing the room from the tiki bar. Booths of bright red and green, both colors traditionally symbolic of luck and happiness in China, are positioned throughout, and red domed lights illuminate the space. Wooden tables and black chairs offer seating flexibility for parties of all sizes.
Two tuk tuks, imported from China, will create additional focal points for the restaurant. One will be positioned on the patio, in front of the storefront which also features Lucky Cricket graphics and photos from Zimmern's travels. The second tuk tuk is in the bar area and will serve as a fun feature seat for cocktails and small plates.
Lucky Cricket's 80-seat tiki bar and lounge, a standout feature of the restaurant, is canopied by a thatched straw roof suspended over an L-shaped bar with a bright green top and a front of bamboo matting. Yellow high top bar chairs provide a bright counterpoint to backless swivel stools and wooden chairs. Two large Polynesian masks on the back bar cleverly disguise slushie machines on either end. Tabletops laminated with a collage of vintage tiki album covers and other memorabilia from the 40's and 50's recall the fun of pure tiki kitsch.
Lucky Cricket is located at 1607 West End Blvd, St Louis Park, MN 55416 and is open Monday through Thursday from 11AM-11PM, Friday to Saturday from 11AM-12PM and Sunday from 11AM-9PM. For more information about Lucky Cricket, please visit www.Luckycricket.net.
SOURCE Andrew Zimmern
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