Successful Excelsior restaurant opens at 50th & France.
Excitement builds when a new restaurant arrives in town. Coalition brings another solid dining option to 50th & France. The familiar space once occupied by Pearson’s and the 50th Street Café has experienced some transition in recent years, but a fresh face promises a new era of dining.
Coalition offers a neighborhood-friendly approach in the tradition of its predecessors. The name reflects a close connection to community. With a commitment to excellent cuisine and service, Coalition is well on its way to becoming a staple.
Inside, everything has changed in a complete remodel of the space. Two large windows allow light from the entryway into the formerly shadowy waiting area. A dropped ceiling has given way to a more open look. Twin Cities interior designer Cynthia O’Connor carried out the transformation with characteristic flair. Filled with rustic yet modern touches, the updated space reflects the sophistication of the food. A good setting for great food can only win friends. A worldly mix of familiar and novel `features will not disappoint at breakfast, lunch or dinner.
When a group of people comes together to create something good, a coalition emerges, co-owner Deacon J. Eells says. “The quality of food and service needs to be genuine. We consider ourselves casual fine dining. People are welcome to come in wearing shorts and a T-shirt, or suits and ties.”
As the name implies, this restaurant has an inclusive charm. The entire family can dine here in casually sophisticated style. Kids items ensure no one is left out. “[Children] don’t have to order an adult dish,” Eells says.
While the cuisine is pegged as American, international flavors are evident. In an ever-changing selection of food and beverage features, “look for fun, unique stuff on top of normal everyday,” Eells says. Dinner entrées have a composed presentation that includes sides; prices average $20 to $30. Portions are sizable—“usually more than enough for somebody.”
Eells knows the Twin Cities food business well. This is the second Coalition location he and his business partner Eli Wollenzien have opened. With backgrounds in the culinary arts, both also have previous tenures in the Edina area.
Eells helped open the 50th Street Café six years ago. He appreciates the loyalty customers had for the place and its distinctive meals. Hashbrowns will still have a place on the menu, sure to not disappoint the breakfast devotees. It’s one of the changes to the Coalition offerings Eells plans for this location. In a nod to the former breakfast haven, Coalition will operate as a full-service restaurant and serve breakfast daily—a break from its original sister restaurant in Excelsior that only offers a weekend brunch for the morning crowd.
Other features will align with the original Coalition’s lunch and dinner menu, at least to start. “Over time, we’ll gear the menu to the likings of the neighborhood,” Eells says. Wollenzien, a former chef, guides the direction of the food while Eells takes on the beverages.
Craft and classic cocktails with boutique distillery spirits are star players. “I get really excited about our cocktails—to bring something to the area that’s not there yet,” Eells says. For example, the old fashioned gets a new twist when the orange garnish is warmed by a flame. The luxurious qualities of Italian Luxardo cherries put the ordinary maraschino variety to shame. “Quality is such a thing for us,” Eells says. “We put in that high-end cherry and that makes the cocktail all the better.” Little touches have a big impact.
Coalition also has a fine wine selection and local tap beers to round out its adult beverage selections.
Creative preparation and vibrant presentation make for memorable entrées, appetizers, greens, salads and sides. Locally sourced ingredients are used whenever possible and guide the restaurant’s chef-driven menu.
With so many standouts, it’s hard to pinpoint a signature dish. But those familiar with the Excelsior location will recognize a few mainstays. The salmon with honey mustard, fingerling potatoes, green beans, pistou and crème fraîche is a popular carry-over from the original Coalition. A balance of warm spiciness makes the roasted chicken with pozole broth a terrific mainstay. Pork sausage, hominy, avocado, queso fresco and cilantro complete this Latin dish.