St. Genevieve may be new to the neighborhood, but chef Steven Brown has held the keys since late 2014. He’s been refining recipes in the basement kitchen and getting comfortable — it’s initially sort of like cooking in a friend’s kitchen, he said.
In the opening days, customers were gravitating to the poutine and tartine madame. A favorite of Brown’s is the French onion soup. Brown said he wanted to create a good bar first and foremost, and champagne takes a prominent place on the drink menu.
“We’d like to help with the idea of changing the perception of champagne,” he said. “Champagne is an everyday wine. … It’s a fantastic food wine. It has great acidity, great balance, and the effervescence is fantastic.”
With a handmade restaurant and handmade food, Brown didn’t want to charge a fortune for champagne bottles made by the millions. Instead, St. Genevieve is serving champagne by small artisan producers. It’s also available by the half glass.
Brown lives in Linden Hills and said Tilia remains his “first love.” He wanted his next venture to also cater to the neighborhood. A white bin outside the restaurant collects unneeded clothing, and the nonprofit Harvest uses the proceeds to send children home with food. A full bin at Tilia gives 50 kids food for the weekend at Richard Green Central Elementary at 35th Street & 4th Avenue South.
St. Genevieve suggests making a donation and rewarding the goodwill with a glass of wine.
“It’s important to me that the first thing you see when you walk in is the bar,” Brown said. “It’s casual — you’re welcome.”
Brown remembers traveling through Ireland while working at The Local, watching 80-year-old patrons sing Van Morrison songs at the pub while toddlers crawled under the table.
“It’s a place for neighbors to come and toast their successes and drown their sorrows. They can feed their children and their soul,” he said. “If we are able to do that, I think we’ll be pretty successful.”
Starting early next year, hours will be 11 a.m.-1 a.m. with food served til midnight, and brunch available at 9 a.m. on weekends. Most of the restaurant is devoted to walk-in traffic, but reservations are available via an app posted on the St. Genevieve Facebook page.