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Don’t Let the Gargoyles Fool You
Gargoyles? Yeah, that was my reaction when I got there to chat with co-owners Michael Kutscheid and Naomi Wiliamson. Michael then informed me that everyone who has done a story on their restaurant has started out with the question, “Okay, so what’s with the gargoyles?”
Well, Naomi asked me if I’d ever been to Notre Dame. When I told her I had, she asked me what the cathedral was protected by? Uh…gargoyles, I said. And so is every ancient church in Europe. Hence, the restaurant Sanctuary is protected by…gargoyles. (Quiz your server to see if they know all the gargoyles’ names.)
But there’s a lot more to this place than just a bunch of scaly bad attitudes with wings. The atmosphere is supposed to be rather old Europe. However, I found it to be just plain comfortable. They stripped the old (circa about 1870) building down to its bare bones of limestone and old growth wood. The charm is accentuated by chandeliers, reclaimed hardwood floors, a fireplace and a unique exposed wine rack right when you come in the doors. And did I mention the two pulpits and the Bishop’s chairs at the back tables? I could have sat there for hours.
Of course, atmosphere doesn’t mean a thing if the food is boring. That’s where General Manger Michael Kutscheid jumped in. I asked him what makes the place unique; sets it apart from all other restaurants? “I do!” he answered. Like you, I was a bit taken aback by the answer until he explained further.
He said anyone can serve great food. It’s how you run the restaurant that makes people feel special and keep coming back for more. He showed me a sign he put up in the kitchen that says, Devoted to the Beauty in Perfection’s Pursuit. Not a bad attitude to run a restaurant by. And by the way, the food IS unique and fabulous. Think American Cuisine with Mediterranean and Asian influences. Patrick Atanalian is the chef. Expect prices in the $14 to $25 dollar range.
Sanctuary is at 903 Washington Avenue South in Downtown Minneapolis, about a block from the new Guthrie Theater. It’s probably a good idea to call for reservations at 612-339-5058. They are open Monday-Thursday 5:00pm to 10:00pm, Friday and Saturday 5:00pm to 11:00pm, and they’re closed Sunday.
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