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Local Business

300 First is 'hip and comfortable'

4/2/2008 11:02:10 AM
By Jeff Kiger
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN 

A big fireplace, a gurgling fountain made from bottles and a wine rack, warm colors, smoking martinis and corn-fed steaks. Like a magician turning a woman into a tiger, the families behind Creative Cuisine have unveiled their latest trick -- 300 First.

The restaurant began serving dinner Thursday and will open for lunch for the first time Tuesday.

About a year and half after coming up with the concept, the Currie and Zubay families have transformed a long-time Rochester favorite, the Broadstreet Cafe, into 300 First.

"Completely relaxed, kind of hip and comfortable" is how Denise Villeneuve of Creative Cuisine describes the new restaurant that has arisen in place of the Broadstreet.

Along with the new feel comes a new menu built around a selection of high-grade steaks served with one-pound baked potatoes topped with butter churned fresh at the restaurant. The prices range from $15.95 for a Prime Grade Bauvette Steak to $29.95 for a Prime Grade Bone In Ribeye.

Other entrees include Seared Fresh Red Stripe Grouper, Brick-Baked Chicken and Asian Chopped Rare Tuna Salad, among other items.

"The menu has a broader range of selection as well as a broader range of prices," said Villeneuve. "The prices are lower than most on Broadstreet's menu."

Looking around the completely changed restaurant, even the staff seemed amazed at the difference.

"I'm shocked we pulled it off," says Mark Currie, one of the restaurant's creators and Villeneuve's brother. "It is not like Broadstreet at all."

He admits that he feels more at ease in 300 First than he did in the previous restaurant.


"Here you don't worry if you pick up the wrong fork," Currie said as he stood by the leather couches and fireplace of the Parkside Lounge.

The lounge is one of four areas within 300 First. Parkside is a room at the front of the restaurant where diners can have a drink and appetizers while waiting for a table or maybe wrap up an evening with dessert and coffee. In the main dining area, 300 First has copper-topped tables and booths along walls exposing the building's almost 100-year-old bricks.

"We're lucky. The building has a natural charm," he said.

Large, locally-made copper artworks back-lit with neon replace the antique tapestries that previously hung on the walls. They share wall space with large, striking photos created by the restaurant's "resident artist."

Chris Skogan, head bartender at 300 First, is also a photographer. His work can be seen throughout the restaurant.

The bar Skogan works behind was turned 90 degrees in the reconstruction. Now the shiny, dark bar is illuminated by irregular glowing light fixtures. Copper ice-filled boxes keep bottles of beer and wine chilled.

A new line of "Smokin'" martinis have been added to the drink menu. A smoking martini has a dry ice pellet in the bottom of the glass that produces the "smoke" effect as well as keeps the drink cold.

The $7 martinis sport names like Grapefruit Cosmo, Moscow Monk, Darjeeling and El Poeta.

At the opposite of end of the restaurant is "The First Table," which seats eight to 16 people in a semi-private room.

"We call it the First Table, even though it is the last table in the restaurant," says Villeneuve. "It is the only table we take reservations for."

While it is completely different, such change is not unknown to the Creative Cuisine crew, which also runs The Redwood Room, City Cafe and Newt's. Over the years, it is estimated they have opened about a dozen new or revamped restaurants in Rochester and elsewhere.

How do they feel about this opening?

"When you change things around, you always wary about how people will react," Villeneuve said. "But we have had nothing but positive feedback so far."



Ate there on Friday AND Sunday and the food was EXCELLENT! Great service and beautiful remodel. It wasn't broken before, but the new look and menu are outstanding!!!

All I can say is WOW! This place has no equal in Rochester. The prices, ambience, and quality of food are all exceptional. I have dined in San Fran, Chicago, London, Paris, New York, etc, and 300 would hold up anywhere. Congrats to the family who put this together!