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When I arrived in the Twin Cities last week, the first place I headed was Nick and Eddie, a new restaurant on Minneapolis’s famed Loring Park. It was 9 p.m. and, this being a city that still largely operates on the farmer’s schedule, the bar and dining room were nearly empty. In other cities we would have been turned away or stuffed into a corner so the waitresses could start flipping chairs, but, this being a city that still largely operates on a code of courtesy dubbed “Minnesota Nice,” we were offered the best seat in the house and told to take our time.
While we fought over chef Steve Vranian’s airy baked gnocchi (you should really make them sometime), I noticed a familiar figure strolling around the dining room: Greg Norton, the magnificently mustachioed bass player of the legendary Minnesota band Hüsker Dü. After his career in rock-and-roll, Norton became a formidable chef, cooking at the gone-but-not-forgotten boîte Loring Café (once located in the space next door), and later opening his own restaurant across the river from my hometown.
Norton and Nick and Eddie’s “head waiter” Doug Anderson (his wife, Jessica, is the owner) spent most of our meal marveling at the restaurant’s insane audio system, which includes more than 250 speakers strategically placed around the dining room. Built by a company called High Emotion Audio, these stacks of woofers and strips of tweeters dominating the space are supposed to deliver a rich spectrum of sound that won’t interfere with dinner conversation. “The sound’s supposed to come from everywhere at once,” Norton said, stopping by our table. (I’m no audiophile, but it does. And I can’t remember a restaurant more geeked-out about its stereo.) “Exactly,” Anderson added. “And it looks like the back of someone’s hoopty."