by Katie Ward, senior writing coach
What: Barnes and Noble Kitchen
Where: The Galleria, Edina
Since the early 1990s, Barnes and Nobles across the country have hosted Starbucks cafes and bakeries to provide bookbuyers with a calm, cultured, and increasingly mainstream place to take a coffee break. Until a few years ago, Barnes and Noble in the Galleria, Edina, was one such place. During their recent major reconstruction, however, Starbucks moved out, and in its place, the Barnes and Noble Kitchen was born.
The Kitchen has successfully struck the balance between modern comfort and retro atmosphere usually found in SoCal second hand record stores. The dark brown and green distantly reminiscent of a gas station cafe that most Barnes and Noble Starbucks possess is completely absent from the Kitchen. Earth tones, modern furniture, and warm mood lighting (along with the impeccable aesthetics of the remodeled bookstore and the rest of the respectfully bourgeois Galleria) gives the Kitchen a neighborhood coffeeshop vibe despite its underground location.
There’s bar seating, a large wood table complete with outlets, lounge seating with built in tables, and couches scattered around the rest of the store if you’re only looking for coffee and a pastry. There’s also a full restaurant whose menu is a far cry from a microwaved frozen panini a la the Kitchen’s predecessor. But that’s not what I’m writing about.
How does the Kitchen hold under the Hemingways?
(To review La Rotonde’s criteria, click here!)
Le Goût- In my relatively limited experience, slow service equals good food. While the very accommodating staff will not win any contests for fastest cup of coffee, do you really want them to? Every mocha I’ve had here is a perfect blend of sweetness and strength, and the syrups and sugars available at the bar will placate any shortcoming. ⅘ Hemingways
Le Style- Personally, I could sit here for hours. Actually, I have. Half of the gorgeously modern space is designed especially for studying, reading, or deep philosophical conversation. Jack White is a regular on their overhead playlist, which is a huge pro. While technically, yes, the Kitchen is a chain, there’s only three in the nation, so if you’re going to condone a capitalist corporation, this isn’t that bad. 5/5 Hemingways
La Rotonde- While the Kitchen is beautifully designed and decorated, it is still in the basement of a glorified mall. It exceeds expectations taking into account the space it was given, but at the end of the day, one of its wall of windows overlooks a parking lot, and there’s nothing This Side of Paradisiacal about a row of Lexuses (or is it Lexi?) as you write the next great American novel. However, if you’re facing the Village-esque bar and maze of books, that’s easy to forgive. ⅗ Hemingways
Which brings the Barnes and Noble Kitchen, Edina, to a grand total of ⅘ Hemingways. No small feat. This weekend, grab a friend or your AP Euro textbook and experience New York ingenuity for under $10.
For the Kitchen’s menu, click here.
Thoughts or reviews on The Kitchen? Leave a comment! Check in soon for a café a little closer to home (and farther away from hunger).
Cordially, your host, Katie Ward