Perron’s Sul Lago – Prior Lake

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Do you remember when I told you that my husband likes to find restaurants I’ve never heard of before?

I think it all started with Perron’s Sul Lago…

We have a tradition for our birthdays: The birthday girl or boy gets to choose any restaurant where they would like to dine. The other person has to plan, drive and buy. Pretty sweet tradition, isn’t it?!

In 2010, Rob was checking out review websites online and found Perron’s Sul Lago in Prior Lake. Despite the fact that the restaurant had no website, the intriguing reviews outweighed the possibility that there could be limited menu options for him due to his allergies and personal preferences. Sul Lago became his birthday dinner choice that year.

We’ve been back about once a month since. In short, we kinda like it. 😉

In fact, we’ve brought more than a dozen friends and out-of-town guests here to enjoy the experience with us. In addition, we’ve recommended it to many friends who have chosen it as the restaurant to celebrate their anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions.

So why do we love it so much?

Let us count the ways…

1) It reminds us of Italy.

  • On our first visit to Sul Lago, we found a seat at a table in the bar area and checked out the menu. The wine list was quite extensive, including dozens of Italian wines. Just scanning the menu quickly, one in particular caught our eye: Dievole Chianti Classico. What? This wine is from the Villa and Vineyard where I earned an all expense paid trip to Tuscany through The Traveling Vineyard and where Rob proposed!

Villa Dievole, Tuscany, Italy - November 2008

  • We were so excited to see this wine again! The Traveling Vineyard’s parent company carried it for a while, but it had long since sold out. Unfortunately, the wine was sold out at Sul Lago that night and the owner’s uncle and sommelier said that the distributor they worked with was no longer going to carry it. 😦  But fast forward to 2012: There is now a Dievole wine back on the menu!
  • Don’t expect to eat a meal and go. You are going to linger… as if you are in Italy. They will not rush you. And on your first visit, you may even feel like you are forgotten about once or twice. But you aren’t! They are giving you time to slow down, relax and enjoy your company while they pay extra careful attention to the preparation of your food. Give yourself about two hours. I’ve seen this described as “bad service” in reviews. And while it may be if you are going to Applebee’s, maybe it’s time to just sit back and enjoy life for once. Seize this opportunity. Besides, if you go there enough, they’ll start to recognize you and treat you like family. {Just like in Italy. 🙂 }

2) The beverages.

  • Start out with a cocktail. You are going to here a while. Besides, you need time to peruse the menu. My favorite cocktail:

French Pear Martini: Elderflower liqueur, pear vodka, sparkling wine, lime juice, pear slice

  • Men, you might think a French Pear Martini sounds girlie, but my husband orders it all the time. It’s just too good not to swallow your macho pride. We took my brother to Sul Lago this past weekend for his birthday. If this tough guy can enjoy a French Pear, so can you:

No, he is not ducking out of the picture. I just caught him while he was busy drooling over the menu.

  • There are no beers on tap, which can bum a beer lover; but we aren’t here for the beer. {They have it in bottles if you must have one.} This is a place where you order cocktails and wine. While the emphasis is on Italian wines, the extensive list includes world-wide options as well.
  • They have house-made cellos. We “experienced” too much limoncello on that Tuscany trip mentioned above, but learned to love it once again our Honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast {an area known for its lemon trees}. At Sul Lago, they make their own limoncello. You might get lucky and even find that they have lime-cello, orange-cello and grapefruit-cello on occasion, too. Order your cello as your after dinner digestivo. It’s all about the experience.
  • My only suggestion for Perron’s Sul Lago: Invest in an espresso machine. I love a strong espresso after a big, long meal, something that is truly Italian. There are so many more options you could offer in terms of drinks, dishes, desserts and experiences with an espresso machine.

3) The Food.

I guess it should go without saying that we enjoy the food at Sul Lago. They use high-quality, fresh ingredients and hand cut their meats. Since we’ve been there a number of times, here’s a sampling of what you can expect:

  • Bread & Oil
    • Before dinner, you’ll be served a basket of warm crusty bread and poured this concoction for dipping:

Olive oil, balsamic vinegar and parmigiano reggiano

  • Mushroom Bruschetta sautéed wild mushrooms, white truffle oil, parmigiano and balsamic reduction
    •  If you like mushrooms, you are crazy not to order this appetizer. It is a required appetizer for all the guests we bring to Sul Lago. The plate ends up looking like this:

Plate that once held Mushroom Bruschetta

  • Sausage Linguinewith sweet onions, fresh herbs, cream, parmigiano and white truffle oil
    • Rob would describe this as silly or ridiculous. I would have to agree. He almost always orders this. He tries to deviate, but usually ends up succumbing to its powers. I am lucky enough that he always shares a bite with me and I can order something different any time!

Linguine tossed with sausage, sweet onions, fresh herbs, cream, parmigiano and white truffle oil

  • Parmigiano Risotto
    • All the risottos are house-made. And while we also love the mushroom risotto that accompanies steaks and the roma tomato risotto upon which the salmon is served, Rob often likes to order a side of this cheesy parmesan risotto to share:

Parmigiano Risotto

  • Sautéed Baby Spinach with Prosciutto
    • This is a side item on the menu that I would not have thought of ordering. However, it came to our table magically on one visit. That night I ordered a spinach salad entrée. However, what arrived instead was this side item. The server knew immediately upon delivering our dishes that the kitchen had missed the mark. She left the spinach with me to munch on while she retrieved my salad.
    • I love spinach, but could it really taste this good? Our friend Craig dug in to give it a try. His eyes lit up, “This is the best spinach I’ve ever had!” {I really should add extra exclamation points for extra emphasis here.} After he finished his sausage linguine {recommended by Rob, of course}, he finished the spinach as well. 🙂
  • Steaks
    • You don’t need to go to downtown Minneapolis to get some of the best quality and perfectly prepared steaks in the Twin Cities. I enjoyed a filet mignon here on my first visit. {And have since ordered it again.} Highly recommend. Remember, the meat here is hand-cut and rumor has it that Chef Todd Perron came from The Capitol Grille steakhouse in Minneapolis. Enough said.
  • Seafood
    • I’ve ordered several seafood specials here as well as seafood from the regular menu. I’ve rarely been disappointed. The scallops and salmon have always been perfectly cooked. The Scallops Gnocchi have been a hit with our guests! And how beautiful is this dish?!

Fresh Atlantic salmon over roasted Roma tomato risotto topped with fresh lemon herb butter

  • Pizzas

    • Perron’s Sul Lago offers pizzas in the bar on Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays. Our favorite is the prosciutto and spinach. Insanely good.
  • Dessert
    • Forget the flavorless chocolate cake towers you find at other restaurants. Instead, get your chocolate fix with the Flourless Espresso Chocolate Cake. Quality over quantity at it’s finest.
    • Blueberry Bread PuddingI’m not even a bread pudding fan. This was recommended by the staff and boy am I glad it was.
    • Dessert Specials – Hell, why not? They are special for a reason. We had some berries with fresh whipped cream infused with amaretto one time. Where else would I find that?

4) The ambiance

  • Perron’s Sul Lago can deliver that feeling of a special night out the moment you sit down. From the warm earthtone décor to the low dining room lighting to the real tealight candles, it delivers in ambiance. But it’s not stuffy. Remember, you are meant to come here to relax and that’s exactly what you are going to do.
  • There is even a patio where you can sit in the summer and enjoy “the lake” on which Perron’s sits. {Sul lago means “on the lake” in Italian.}
  • The staff: We love ’em. Get to know them. Ask them for recommendations. They know their stuff. If you see Amy, Shawna or Billy the Bartender, tell ’em we said “hi” and that we sent you. 🙂
  • Reservations are highly recommended on Friday and Saturday nights and in advance on holidays such as Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve.

Our only complaint for a year was that there was no website.  But it has recently been launched! Check it out.

This is one restaurant south of the river that you can find quality fine dining equivalent to what you’d find in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul.

Enjoy it to its fullest.

Cheers~
Carrie

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