We spotted Michael Kutscheid the other night in the dining room of his new restaurant, Sanctuary, looking proud as a peacock – and even more dapper than usual. The elegant new dining room and lounge, which Kutscheid owns with partners Roger Kubicki and Naomi Williamson, opened quietly last week on the ground level at of the Stonebridge Bank Building at 903 Washington Ave. S. (below Wasabi),a few blocks from the Metrodome. Kutscheid is a familiar face on the local dining scene – back in the the mid-90s, he was the owner and driving force behind Kapoochis, one of the most creative restaurants of its time, until a dishonest bookkeeper drove the business into bankruptcy. In the years that followed, he worked his way back, working as a manager at restaurants ranging from Oceanaire to Martini Blu and Babalu .
903 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis,. www.sanctuaryminneapolis.com
On the Sanctuary website, Kutscheid boasts that “If Charlie Trotter and Bobby Flay met Morimoto in Spain, that would begin to describe Sanctuary’s menu!” Charlie Trotter and Bobby Flay are familiar names, but who’s Morimoto? Turns out he was the last of the Iron Chefs Japan on the Iron Chef TV show, and now owns his own Japanese restaurant in New York City. There isn’t much on chef Gary Stenberg’s menu that sounds Japanese – except for a yellow fin tempura entree with seafood salad an wasabi horseradish cream, but Kutscheid does have a bit of Iron Chef host Takeshi Kaga’s flair for the dramatic – back in his Kapoochi days, he greeted guests in borrowed stage costumes from the Guthrie. (This time around, he greeted guests in more subdued black formalwear, complete with black vest and wing collar tuxedo shirt.)
Kutscheid also has a flair for the visual – the romantic interior of stone walls and old massive wood beams is gorgeously executed.
There’s plenty to explore on the menu – from starters ($5-$12)such as calamari stuffed with rock shrimp, or crab-stuffed risotto cakes with risotto cream, to entrees ($13-$29)of beef tenderloin stuffed with Maine lobster, and wonton-wrapped shrimp with polenta fries and avocado chimichuri.