Chef Jim Christiansen’s singular approach to cooking is as contemporary — and as thought-provoking — as the works on exhibition down the street at the Walker Art Center. It’s also delicious. Ask for a table with a view of Christiansen’s work space, but start with an imaginative, seasonally minded cocktail in the handsome brick-lined bar. There’s a four-course ($64) tasting menu option. Dinner daily, brunch Sunday.
2700 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-200-9369, heydayeats.com
One of the state’s most hospitable restaurants, this downtown St. Paul charmer is the place for sharp French cooking (with touches of chef/co-owner Russell Klein’s New York background) suitable for everyday meals and special occasions. It’s also home to the Midwest’s most impressive oyster bar. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday, brunch Saturday and Sunday.
410 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-222-5670, meritage-stp.com
Travail Kitchen & Amusements
A one-of-a-kind party, four nights a week. The main event is a 20-plus course dinner that oozes imagination, culinary skill and raucous energy, with reservations purchased (via the restaurant’s website) in advance at fluctuating prices ($75 to $115), including a cheaper rush ticket option. Check out the four-course, big-portions “family meal” alternative ($50). Dinner Wednesday through Saturday.
4124 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale, 763-535-1131, travailkitchen.com