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DeRusha Eats: Eastside

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- There are new restaurants chasing trends, or trying to forge an identity as cutting-edge. Then there are restaurants that are just plain good; restaurants that open and instantly feel like they've been around all along.

"We're trying to do food for this neighborhood," said chef Remy Pettus, of the new restaurant Eastside. Eastside opened in late 2015. Pettus grew up in Minneapolis, and traveled around the country cooking in Chicago and Napa Valley, before returning home.

Eastside, located on 305 Washington Avenue S., is American bistro food and it's the first restaurant Ryan Burnet has owned that is completely his own.

"It's a gamble, it's a risk, it's scary but we're off to a good start," said Burnet.

He partnered with big-time chef Tim McKee to open Barrio in 2008, chef Issac Becker to open Bar La Grassa and Burch Steak.

He's been in the background of some of the most successful restaurants of the last decade.

"To work with a guy with that background and resume is outstanding," said Pettus.

But being essentially on his own, is different.

"It was scary, all the liability that comes with signing a lease and going to the bank, a lot of sleepless nights but it's getting better now," said Burnet.

Eastside is American cuisine: familiar flavors with surprising twists.

There's Salmon with pomegranate vinaigrette; a cassoulet with clams and pork. Eastside is on the east side of downtown, like so many new restaurants here, it's below 300 apartments on Washington Avenue. Most, right now, are empty.

"I was a little concerned about being too early to the dance on this side of town," he said.

But change is coming: U.S. Bank Stadium will open by summer 2016, as will many new offices and homes.

"There's like 2,000 apartments within seven blocks of here," said Burnet.

But judging by the crowds since opening, there's little doubt that Burnet is not too early to the dance here. He spent money on a consultant to train the staff, and built a place for neighbors that's become more.

"I thought there was room in the market to do something, with the right execution, would make this a destination where people would want to come a couple times a week," he said.

Side dishes like the Fried Wild Rice embody the kind of food that neighbors will love: Asian flavors of a typical fried rice coupled with the nuttiness of Minnesota wild rice. It's familiar, yet surprising.

"We're listening to them, getting feedback, we plan on evolving our cuisine to what people want," Pettus said.

Great cocktails featuring a lot of locally distilled spirits, coupled with the approachable deliciousness of the menu: no surprise diners are movin' on up to the Eastside.

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