Openings and acquisitions, olive oil, Braille menus, and a Hot Plate mini-review

Oleata-infused coffees


By the time you read this, Eat Street Crossing should actually be open. I have mentioned it before, and it’s been actively under development (and construction) since last summer. There is a grand opening advertised for Saturday, March 4. If you like either Bebe Zito or Zen Box Izakaya, you will probably want to visit Eat Street Crossing, as it results from a collaboration between the two couples running each of those popular establishments. I am a big fan of the latter, so I will be reviewing it soon, I hope. Eat Street Crossing is located in the former Old Arizona Studio building at 2819 Nicollet Ave.
I was seriously annoyed about a month ago when I got my usual food box from Imperfect Foods and saw that it came in a Misfits Market box, albeit on the usual cute pink Imperfect Foods truck. Imperfect Foods has let itself be acquired by Misfits, a rival company that I tried one time and had a horrible experience with. (Also, there were small local union drives at some Imperfect Foods warehouses over a year ago, and I had to wonder how much this acquisition had to do with stymying the union.) So far I have noticed only two slightly annoying changes: 1. More than half the inventory is sold out when I go to order. 2. Terribly inflated prices, but to be fair, that’s everywhere. But I tell you, one false move and I’m going to drop them. Maybe it’s time I made the leap and joined a proper CSA instead.

Braille menus

If you’re even half as interested in food news as I am, you will have read about the new trend debuting in Italy at Starbucks. Food and drink mavens don’t expect it to come to much, but it’s so weird it’s attracting a lot of press. Some of the headlines (i.e.,’s, which is very sarcastic and I recommend) are things like, “Olive oil jumps the shark!” Although to me it’s more like Starbucks is jumping the shark and the olive oil is just an innocent bystander. Apparently, in a fit of madness to which I understand that captains of industry are vulnerable (ahem, Twitter), Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who was taking a spoonful of olive oil daily for health reasons, (what your grandmother used to call “regularity”) was “moved” to mix it into his cup of Joe Starbuck. And he liked it, so, since he’s the boss, it got rolled out in Italy under the pretentious name of Oleato. (Italian for greasy, I believe.)
Racket ( had a story about Craft and Crew Hospitality introducing Braille menus. Craft and Crew owns my neighborhood fancy-casual place, The Howe, and five other bars and eateries in the Twin Cities. The idea, which is getting to be pretty common in chain restaurants, came to a Craft and Crew manager (of diversity and inclusion!) who witnessed that a blind customer named Matthew always ordered the same thing. They are calling on other restaurants to do the same, which is made pretty easy to do by using one of the several service corporations that specialize in that.

Hot Plate’s unique decor

The review this month is brunch at Hot Plate, a diner at 5204 Bloomington Ave. that has a large and loyal following and yet a lot of south Minneapolitans have never heard of it. Hot Plate was started in 2005 by Carrie Lewis and Sam Beberg, originally as full-service, but later transitioned to just breakfast and lunch. The business was purchased by Carmen Santana in 2017, and her stated goal was to keep the legacy – the unique over-the-top ‘70s decor and the most popular dishes – but expand the repertoire a bit with Mexican and other varied but simple fare.
Nowadays, four of their most popular items are the Grand Marais scramble, the extremely indulgent house-made cinnamon rolls, the pancakes with Nutella and bacon, and the carnitas scramble. I was going to take a friend to Modern Times for Sunday brunch, but the wait was too long for us, so, thinking fast, I remembered Hot Plate. We both had the Grand Marais, and if the Jucy Lucy is the most Minneapolis dish in Minneapolis, I think the Grand Marais is the most Minnesota dish in Minneapolis. It consists of creamy scrambled eggs with smoked trout and cream cheese mixed in and, on the side, grilled asparagus spears and country-style chunky fried potatoes.
One of the really fun things about Hot Plate is the hundreds of paint-by-number oils in every genre you can imagine, which, along with some huge mirrors and a few corny retro signs, cover almost every inch of wall space. And even though it’s a mere diner, Hot Plate has excellent coffee. If you’re one of those who’s never heard of Hot Plate, you should definitely try it out.

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