Acclaimed Minneapolis restaurant to close as chef heads to the Walker

It's a blow for foodies, but head chef Doug Flicker isn't going far.

A Minneapolis restaurant that counts Anthony Bourdain among its many admirers is closing down, but its owner isn't moving far.

Chef Doug Flicker announced on Friday that Piccolo, his petite neighborhood restaurant on 43rd and Bryant Avenue South, will close on March 11 next year.

Flicker, who has been a semi finalist in the James Beard Awards on five occasions, has his next move already mapped out as he heads up Esker Grove, the Walker Art Center's new dining experience that opens on Tuesday.

He will leave Piccolo, described by celebrity chef Bourdain in 2010 as serving "far and aware the best, most inspired and inspiring meal of my trip across America," with a "full heart" after seven years in the southwest Minneapolis neighborhood.

"Piccolo has been the realization of a dream that allowed me to cook with my heart for the last seven years," he wrote on Facebook. "Simply put, times change and so have we. Amy [Greeley, his wife] and I are working on new projects and we look forward to sharing them with you as they finalize.

"In the mean time, I do hope to see you at Sandcastle on Lake Nokomis in the summers and Esker Grove at the Walker Art Center."

The 36-seat restaurant serves an ever-changing five-course, small-plate tasting menu, which diners can request a la carte. In keeping with the name, the emphasis is on quality over quantity.

Current courses include scrambled brown eggs with pickled pig’s feet, black cod with kohlrabi dashi, nori, and charred cippolini onions and a duck breast with offal sausage, accompanied by caramelized parsnip raviolino.

At the 94-seat Esker Grove, he's pulled together a larger menu of dishes described as being "inspired by local farmers' harvests, cheese artisans and protein purveyors." You can take a look at the menu here.

There will still be a food presence at Bryant and 43rd once Piccolo departs, the Pioneer Press reports Piccolo's chef de cuisine Cameron Cecchini and cook Grisha Hammes will revamp and re-open the spot as "Tenant" in spring 2017.

The newspaper notes several fine dining locations in the Twin Cities have shut or are shutting this year, including Brasserie Zentral and Il Foro in downtown Minneapolis, Saffron in the North Loop, and the Salt Cellar and Heartland Restaurant in St. Paul.

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