Restaurateurs Kim Bartmann and Asher Miller sent a survey to Café Maude’s customer base before opening Book Club in its place — 1,800 people responded.
“People were very interested in what this was to become,” Miller said.
In response to all those requests, Book Club welcomes kids, retains the happy hour scene, updates the menu regularly, and offers weekend brunch.
The California-leaning menu is inspired by Helen Evans Brown’s “West Coast Cookbook,” published in 1952 (hence the name Book Club).
“I read through the cookbook a bunch of times and found some golden nuggets,” said Miller.
A sidebar on one page became the inspiration for Oysters Mali, made with spinach tarragon pistou, garlic and buttered bread crumbs.
The whole fried driftless trout is served with lettuce cups, brown jasmine rice and lemongrass pickles, and diners can sauce it themselves with nuoc cham.
“It’s a very hands-on eating experience,” Miller said.
The restaurant serves a custom B & W Specialty Coffee blend, along with beer, wine, kombucha, switchel and cocktails, some adapted from Maude’s list.
In renovating the restaurant, staff aimed for a bright and cheery space with bold wallpaper and framed cookbooks. The bar is made from reclaimed Minneapolis wood provided by Wood From The Hood. One end of the bar is devoted for customers to sip drinks as they wait for takeout orders.
A 3 percent surcharge helps cover the cost of health insurance for staff.
Members of a book club met at the restaurant on a recent weekday, and highly recommended “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
“This is a neighborhood restaurant first,” Miller said. “That’s our customer base. Everything we need to do to make our neighbors happy, that’s what we do here.”