Red River Kitchen Opens at Braemar Golf Course

by | Nov 2018

Various food items at the Red River Kitchen

Some of the menu offerings at the Red River Kitchen. Photo: Emily J. Davis

The recent addition of Red River Kitchen at Braemar makes this golf course a year-round foodie destination.

The only thing better than putting on the green will be a meal enjoyed near the green.

The Red River Kitchen opened late summer, before the scheduled re-opening of the re-fashioned golf course coming spring 2019. “This year we’re chalking it up to a great learning experience, an intriguing opportunity with a few inherited challenges,” owner Matty O’Reilly says. “Inevitably we’ll be more busy come spring when the greens are open.”

Braemar’s three-year development is no small undertaking, according to O’Reilly. After the departure of Tin Fish, the City of Edina made a request for proposal. The Red River Kitchen went through a two-to-three-month process and got the votes to move their winning bid forward. Our plan “almost perfectly aligned with what the city was looking for,” O’Reilly said. “I looked at the Braemar clubhouse and that the city was looking for diversifying opportunities accessible and approachable within the four walls of the space.”

O’Reilly has a successful record of repurposing old restaurants and reinventing the customer experience. He’s skilled at providing what a “neighborhood was missing,” he says, and establishing community. Some of his other restaurants include Bar Brigade, Delicata Pizza, Republic and Spring Café. Each has its own personality and business concept.

Another Red River Kitchen operates as a seasonal food truck at City House along the historic banks of the Mississippi River in St. Paul. Braemar’s Red River Kitchen is his newest undertaking. “A new operator and a new course—you only get a chance like this once in a lifetime,” he says.

Visitors need not be golf fans to swing into Red River Kitchen. The weekend warrior, the golf widow, the hungry or the curious will surely all enjoy this new local restaurant. “Whether you are golfing or not, you might consider coming to this place,” O’Reilly says. “Consider it as a dining option … no matter what the season is.”

The Red River Kitchen’s spacious patio overlooks Braemar’s lawn bowling area located between the revamped 9th and 10th holes. The restaurant will work in tandem with the newly added multipurpose game area—a prime spot for corporate events, weddings, fundraisers, team gatherings and other social activities. New lighting and a fire pit invite evening festivities. “From an event stand point, I think it’s really fun for people to consider using this lawn bowling area,” O’Reilly says. “I look around at the neighborhood and wonder where else could a party of 150 go? There are not a lot of other dining operations right there.”

A calendar of live music and other special events promises to keep things lively. Expect to run into your friends and neighbors sometime either in the 200-seat event space or in the restaurant.

The Red River Kitchen is sure to become the designated 19th hole. With the same layout as the former Tin Fish, the new restaurant seats 60 inside and another 60 on the outdoor patio. Once the spring golf season arrives, service will cover breakfast, lunch and dinner plus snacks in between. Grab and go options will keep golfers satisfied and in the swing. Fast counter service in a casual atmosphere gets golfers (or lawn bowlers) back out on the greens in record time. A cart service will also be available for golfers.

The food shares the same celebrated style as O’Reilly’s other brick-and-mortar eateries and food trucks. Traditional American fare is amped by novel groupings among salads, sandwiches, tacos, burgers, hot dogs and brats. International flavors spice things up with the food truck–famed Cubano sandwich. Another namesake dish, the Minn. wild rice and walleye bowl combines hearty wild rice with tasty seasonal veggies. O’Reilly plans to keep “things really fresh and rotating,” he says.

Farm to table, local sourcing is used whenever possible. Most items lean healthy reflecting, “how people are eating today as opposed to 10 years ago,” O’Reilly says. Simple but flavorful prep makes each dish universally appealing with prices affordable for families.

A perfectly paired drink in hand completes the picture, and Red River Kitchen has options for every taste.

Beverages include crowd-pleasing standbys, yet complimentary to adult tastes with craft beer, wine and other spirit-based drinks. Rejoice, for the first time, Braemar has full liquor! “We’ll have a really substantial bloody mary that goes hand in hand with golf,” O’Reilly says. Kegged cocktails (speedy pours of soul-soothing libations) bring more spirited fun straight from the barrel. “Creative cocktails will be a really good fit for the course,” he says. The beer offerings “latch onto a momentum that craft beer has had in Minnesota.”

The eclectic and esoteric wine list is budget-friendly. “Name recognition doesn’t necessarily get the best value,” O’Reilly says. “We use some really interesting small wine companies with much better wine for a better, affordable price.” Direct sourcing is the key.

O’Reilly and his staff now manage the banquet space in addition to the clubhouse restaurant. General manager Josh Elving has Edina roots and is thrilled about Red River Kitchen’s new presence. “I met Matty in the St. Thomas executive MBA program, and with his restaurant expertise, and my location in Edina, and relationships within the community, it was a great fit,” Elving says. “It is exciting for me as a resident to see so many young families and the growing diversity within our community that suggests Edina will be a great place to live for years to come.”

O’Reilly’s new restaurant has a sense of place in fitting with the vibe of a top-ranked recreation area. Even the Red River Kitchen’s ox cart logo is steeped in Midwest tradition. An ox cart trail stretched from St. Paul to Winnipeg during pioneer days. Travelers collected what they needed for their journeys along the way and were reliant on local sources. Provisions were a matter of survival in a new era.

Today, O’Reilly pays homage with an inclusive approach to food and community. Everyone can join in the fun. “We’ve come full circle. People pay attention to what they’re eating, and why, and how,” O’Reilly says.

Red River Kitchen
6364 John Harris Dr.


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