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Three former Travail staffers are bringing their fine-dining pedigree to breakfast and lunch.

Sarah Julson, Nat Moser and Alex Althoff left the Robbinsdale restaurant group this summer. Althoff was executive pastry chef, and Moser, Althoff's husband, was head chef at Nouvelle Brewing (and Pig Ate My Pizza before that). Julson served as creative director.

After riding out the pandemic, they each felt there was another path on the horizon.

"During that time, we all got to step up in our own ways and we all came into our own, and it just came time that we need new experiences and see what else the world can bring us," Julson said.

After traveling to other cities and noticing a trend in restaurants that hadn't made its way to Minnesota yet, they had an idea.

Dahlia, a full-service restaurant, will apply the team's hospitality chops to daytime dining.

"Alex and Nat both love brunch, and there's not a huge existence of that in the Twin Cities right now," Julson said. "We feel like the level of hospitality that's given for dinner service isn't always applied to lunch and breakfast service. We're excited to come have a coffee, or a drink, and just enjoy the daylight."

Expect a pastry program that highlights Althoff's baking ingenuity; she's the inventor of Nouvelle Brewing's pizza croissant, among many of Travail's other hit desserts during her four-year tenure there. There will also be a full menu, bar program and coffee program. Just no dinner.

"Everyone else has that kind of under control," Julson said.

The team is "taking it slow," and will roll out catering, baking orders (beginning with Thanksgiving pie pickups) and pop-ups in physical restaurant spaces before an eventual 2023 or 2024 opening, possibly in northeast Minneapolis, where all three of them live.

Those events will be announced on social media, @eatatdahlia, and via a newsletter. Sign up at for updates.

The name Dahlia comes from Althoff's favorite flower. "The symbolism of dahlias is hardiness, and dignity and creativity," Julson said. "All the things we are trying to encompass and what we want this business to be."

Burger Press opens Highland Park location

Burger Press, the buzzy Edina spot for smashed burgers and crinkle fries, has expanded to St. Paul. A new locally owned outpost has opened in Highland Park at 718 S. Cleveland Av., inside the same strip mall as Punch Pizza. The menu includes a selection of skinny burgers that can be stacked up and adorned with most of the usual accoutrements, hot dogs, shakes and bubble tea. Find more info and the full menu at

Justin Sutherland shares his Northern Soul

Add author to the ever-lengthening list of skills that chef Justin Sutherland has racked up in his career. The Handsome Hog chef just released his first cookbook, "Northern Soul." Inside are plenty of recipes that will be familiar to diners at his restaurant: Gumbo My Way, Chicken and Waffles with his signature dredge, and Deviled Crawfish Roll (but with no mayo; Sutherland is not a fan).

The book, widely available in bookstores and online, was written before the "Top Chef" star and "Iron Chef" winner was in a boating accident over the summer. On July 3, Sutherland was seriously injured when he fell off a boat and was struck by the propeller. Several surgeries later, he's been making media appearances talking about the accident and promoting "Northern Soul."

More accolades for Petite León

Praise for Petite León, the restaurant from chef Jorge Guzmán and an ownership group that includes Ben Rients and Travis Serbus, has received another major nod as an exceptional restaurant. The New York Times added it to one of its restaurant lists — 50 Places in America We're Most Excited About Right Now — released last week. The paper's critics praised "a number of his arresting dishes, including al pastor pork collar, charred broccolini with mole verde and ancho chile-black garlic marinated bavette steak with a bright piquillo pepper sauce." Earlier this year, Guzmán also was a finalist for a James Beard Award in the Best Chef: Midwest category. Petite León is at 3800 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls.,