Victory 44

by Susan on September 11, 2012

-written and photographed by Susan Powers


This casual corner restaurant with a funky vintage feel creates a stunning contradiction. Kick back, relax and prepare to eat plate after plate of some of the Twin Cities most exquisitely prepared food. Exceptional fine dining meets casual neighborhood cool, and the prices can’t be beat.

The Place

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The vibe in Victory 44 immediately puts you at ease. The colors are soothing, large windows bring in lots of light and the architecture of the old structure creates a warm, inviting feeling with a vintage groove. 

The chef-servers and baristas flow from one space to another. Coffee and Provisions lie to the east, the bar with tables and the tiny kitchen are in the middle and the dining room completes the west side. Huge chalkboards announce the evening menu and Victory 44’s slogan “Praise the Lard”. Outdoor dining is available seasonally. 

 ”We set out to make an approachable restaurant where people in the neighborhood would enjoy coming to eat” states Chef Erick Harcey. He gets his neighborhood folk interlaced with the cities most discriminating diners, who stop in regularly to experience his amazing food. 

The People

 

Wearing a t-shirt, baseball hat, jeans and an apron, Chef Erick Harcey appears to be a pretty laid back guy, that is, until he starts talking about food. It is impossible for him to contain his enthusiasm. It hits like a hurricane and you are immediately swept away by the excitement and joy he has for creating amazing food. 

Chef Harcey comes by it naturally. One grandfather was a chef and the other a farmer. Chef Harcey’s childhood memories are all about food, growing it, preparing it, and eating it.  A perfect environment for a budding chef.  

Chef Harcey studied and trained at Le Cordon Bleu right out of high school. He excelled there and landed at Hotel Sofitel in the pastry division just out of school. He was then hired at the Nicollet Island Inn as head pastry chef. Through hard work, talent and dedication he migrated up through the ranks to the top position, Executive Chef, where he developed his style, technique and skills.

At Victory 44, as a chef/owner, Chef Harcey has complete freedom to let his genius run wild. Working out of one of the smallest kitchens in town, he weaves flavor and texture together and, with one bite, leaves you speechless.

Deconstructed food is his speciality. He lets every ingredient speak for itself. A carrot finds its full expression by being presented three different ways (ex. poached, caramelized, and pureéd) in a dish bringing a depth of flavor that is intense. He likes to call his food controlled chaos on a plate. I would just call it eye-rolling delicious. Chef Harcey pushes the envelop, actually shreds it, in the best way possible. 

This excellence and excitement for food permeates every aspect of the restaurant. Many of the servers are actually chefs. So, the person serving you dinner was doing the prep earlier in the day. The benefit is having a server that intimately knows every detail of the food they are serving along with a huge dose of enthusiasm and pride having helped prepare what you are eating. 

Even the baristas amaze with their chef-inspired infusions. It is wonderful to have someone come to your table and put as much attention into your blueberry infused laté as the chefs did with your meal. Be warned, you will dream of this food and coffee.

 

The Food

 

The kitchen at Victory 44 is small. To make dishes like this, everyone has to be in sync, with their talents highly tuned. Chef Harcey leads the charge but his chefs must be up to the challenge. This is where the magic comes in. It has to be magic. One look at the space and you will understand why. Seriously, a well tuned team with mad skills make it happen. 

Chef Harcey places his heart and vision into every dish. He see’s an ingredient and the wheels start turning. It is an artful evolution that requires him to be constantly honing his skills. 

The beets in this salad are presented three ways. Fresh, puréed and dehydrated. The essence of the beets is expressed three fold, bursting forth with flavor.

Menus change as the seasons change, or a special ingredient inspires Chef Harcey. Over the top, delicious.

Did I mention they are open for breakfast and lunch, too?

 

For Your Kitchen

 

Chef Harcey graciously welcomed me into his home to prepare Mussels with Chicken Sausage. Shooting with his wife and four little boys was beyond fun. For the recipe and pictures of Eric and his four little sous chefs preparing the dish, click here: Mussles with Chicken Sausage

 

Victory 44

All images ©SusanPowersPhotography 2010-2013

Victory 44     |     2203 44th Ave N      |     Minneapolis, MN     |      55412     |     Ph: 612.588.2228

Victory-44.com

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Cora September 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm

How fast can I get there? The food looks so inviting…beautiful….sounds like a fun place besides…great images…

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Amy September 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Wow!! You’ve made me want to jump in the car and drive to Minnesota… again! This place looks amazing – and the photos are beautiful. Gonna try the mussels recipe with my husband this weekend. Yum. (PS I just love this site so much. Thank you for doing this.)

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Keane September 12, 2012 at 12:20 am

Hot damn! Victory 44 is a true Twin Cities treasure and you’re photos… well, I’m at a total loss for words. They’re beyond stunning. Also, thank you, because now I’m starving. ;)

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Jean-Luc September 12, 2012 at 3:23 am

What a wonderful place! You have captured the essence of Victory 44 with your friendly and inviting description and your stunning photography. I can’t wait to get back to Minneapolis to visit Victory 44 again! Erick’s creations are to die for.

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Molly September 12, 2012 at 4:56 am

This is one of my all-time favorites! I have been at least 20 times and it never ceases to surprise, amaze and fulfill me! We are lucky to have them :)

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mia September 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Ah ! That looks amazing. I will have to go when I go home !

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Ronda September 12, 2012 at 10:48 pm

WOW! LOOK at the photography here! I felt like I traveled into this restaurant and was there when each and every picture was taken! You have a way of capturing the moment and transferring that in such a brilliant way! I won’t even pretend to know how much work it takes to get all the small details you do in the pictures; but I know when I take pictures, they don’t look this amazing. Then the way you described the experience, the chef, the food; I feel like I was there! Awesome work!!!!!!

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Milena September 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Oh wow! The presentation is just breath taking!! Your gorgeous photos surely adding addition dimension to this, as well ;-) Marvellous work!!

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Andre September 28, 2012 at 4:07 am

I don’t know how I came across this website but I am so glad I did. You not only have a way with words you also have a way with pictures. If I were to visit the Twin Cities I would definitely stop by this place and try it out. I can’t wait to see what place you photograph next, consider me a subscriber.

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