CITIZEN – Cafe for the People

After stopping at the local ACE Hardware (so glad they’re still in the neighborhood) we stopped by CITIZEN – Café for the People, formerly occupied by “Sweet Lorraine’s” at 2403 East 38th Street, Minneapolis. It’s only 5 blocks from the 38th street light rail station.

Owners Michael and Seaen MacKay spent from March to June of this year completely renovating what is now a charming space. They’ve added picture windows on the west side over looking an outdoor patio, pulled up the old carpeting, painted and updated both the interior and exterior.  Now comfortable wooden chairs pull up to white tablecloths overlaid with brown butcher block paper in two dining rooms. If there’s such a thing as a comfortable church pew, they can be found along one wall with pillows provided for extra cushion.

Michael MacKay, also the chef, most recently came from the “Sample Room” in Northeast Minneapolis. Previously he had stints including the “Boundary Waters” – Dayton’s Southdale, Dayton’s Catering Division with Chef Tim Scott and as the corporate catering chef at Marshall Fields-State Street, Chicago. He’s also been in the kitchen at Patti’s, Chez Paul and the Loring Café.

We arrived about 5:00p on a recent Saturday evening and were immediately impressed by the funky, colorful, visually appealing menu design. There were plenty of options from which to choose. We started with the house-made gravlax with dill crème fraîche accompanied by thick crunchy onion and pumpernickel toast points ($5). Four succulent slices of perfectly cured salmon were topped with large capers and diced red onion. We couldn’t resist sharing an order of old school country pâté with house-made mustard ($5). The pork and chicken pâté was pure pleasure paired with the mustard, but try the mustard with the gravlax as well, for a hot, sour, salty, sweet sensation.

Moving down the appetizer list, we landed on the braised beef short rib with rich shallot broth ($7). It was fall off the bone tender, but as much shallot broth as there was, I wished for more. It would be something else to eat with the variety of breads from Saint Agnes Bakery.

With so many appetizers under our belt as it were, we decided to split one of their entrée salads; a large Caesar Classic ($6). It was dressed with a perfect balance of garlic, freshly ground pepper and parmesan. Three to four large anchovy fillets lay neatly over the top. There are plenty additional options on the menu for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

According to Seaen they source as much local product as possible. We gave them the name of Love Tree Farms for some local artisan cheese options as well as Maple Leaf Orchards. Since they’ve only been open less than two weeks, they are not sure how often the menu will change. Also, they are still working on a couple of details; more substantial napkins for one and by the middle of July they should have a wine and beer license.

CITIZEN – Cafe for the People is a welcome addition here in Southeast Minneapolis. The map puts it in the Standish neighborhood, but I’d like to claim it in Longfellow.

Check it out at 2403 E. 38th St., Minneapolis, 612-729-1122. Open 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

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