Tag Archives: uptown minneapolis restaurant

On the Corner of Lake & Irving

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For the second Friday in a row, things were crazy enough at work that I didn’t eat lunch. For the second Friday in a row, when I got home, I was hangry.

My friend Jen said she’d come pick me up for dinner if I picked a place. It was the most perfect possible weather you could possibly have in Minnesota. It was 70 to 75 degrees. The sun was out, but not beating down unbearably, nor was there any need for shade. There was no wind nor humidity. And the best thing yet: There were no mosquitoes! There is a really short window for a day like that in Minnesota.

There was no reason to be indoors.

I had to find a dining spot with a patio.

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After much indecision, I finally chose…

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Lake & Irving is on the corner of – you guessed it – the corner of Lake and Irving in Uptown Minneapolis. I chose it because it not only had a patio, but also because of its proximity to Lake Calhoun. When choosing a restaurant, I was worried that the patios would be too busy because of the beautiful day. Lake Calhoun would make a nice walk afterward so that we could at least enjoy some of the weather if outdoor seats could not be had.

I really dig Lake & Irving’s menu!

That’s one of the other reasons why I chose it.

Beer

The tap beer selection includes a dozen craft beers – some local, some not. None of those taps are wasted on Mich Golden Light! The list changes frequently and includes what’s up next in the rotation.

Wine

The selection of wines is a well-rounded list that doesn’t include any of your Usual Suspects. I like that. In fact, I rarely order something I’ve already had, unless it’s something I know I absolutely love, the value is a good one or it’ll make a good pairing with my meal.

Craft Cocktails

While Lake & Irving lists their inventory of liquor, they also have a small list of selective craft cocktails. Le Sureau {Prairie Organic Vodka, St. Germain, lavender simple syrup, grapefruit juice, lemon} interested me, but if I would have ordered one that night, I probably would have fallen asleep at the table. L&I’s version of a Johnny Jump Up is called a Power Up, made with a local cider and Powers Irish Whiskey.

Food

For the record, we did get a seat on the patio. ūüėČ

Upon seating, we were immediately offered complimentary still or sparkling water. They serve it in a bottle so that they don’t have to keep refilling your glass.

The menu looked so good that I had a number of things that caught my eye – the Seared Ahi Salad, the Salmon Quinoa, the Caprese Panini and the Kalua Pork Sandwich.

My decision-making skills aren’t very stellar in general; but they are even worse when I’m hangry. Jen made up her mind pretty quickly.

CAPRESE PANINI  10 mozzarella, tomato, mac nut pesto, sourdough

CAPRESE PANINI – mozzarella, tomato, mac nut pesto, sourdough $10

{Side Note to Rob: The fries are nothing to write a blog post about. You can skip them.}

But you will be happy to know that I narrowed the menu down all by myself and didn’t even ask the server for any help.

SEARED AHI SALAD  16 Asian slaw, soy vin, mac nuts, cilantro,  avocado, sriracha aioli

SEARED AHI SALAD – Asian slaw, soy vin, mac nuts, cilantro, avocado, sriracha aioli – $16

This salad was just what I needed and complemented the weather perfectly! It was fresh and all of the flavors came together in just the right way. The tuna was a little chewy, despite the fact that they cooked it just how I requested – medium rare. But it was a minor detail when you put the whole salad together with those sauces and the crunch of the slaw and wonton crisps. I’d order it again.

The service was a bit slow, but we didn’t mind one bit. That was more time to sit and relax out on the patio! Once again, hangriness was cured. And just a few blocks away was Lake Calhoun, which drew a healthy-sized crowd that night. Still, the lake was calm and everything just seemed… peaceful.

What is your favorite place to relax on a patio?

What makes that place special?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Hammer & Sickle!

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One of Rob’s co-workers told us that we needed to give Hammer & Sickle in Uptown Minneapolis a try… He lived in Poland for at least five years and said that the pierogies at Hammer & Sickle are more authentic than any he’d had in the Twin Cities, including Nye’s Polonaise Room (soon to close) and Moscow on the Hill.

We’d been to Nye’s several times and loved the pierogies there!¬†We also love the steak and pierogies at The Lowry. We’ve never been to Moscow on the Hill. Why? Borscht doesn’t sound all that exciting to me. But when someone recommends something, I’m all about it!

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Finding Hammer & Sickle can¬†be a challenge. We had the address, but saw no sign. The only thing that’ll tell you that you are in the right place is the hammer and sickle symbol on the on the door handle.

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According to the restaurant’s website:

Hammer & Sickle is Minneapolis’ vodka bar featuring Eastern European and Russian comfort food with an American twist. With over 70 different vodkas in our collection (including six house-made infusions) and a full wine and beer selection, there is a little something for everyone.

Neither of us are very keen on vodka. We prefer something with a little more flavor. But when in Rome, right?

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I went with a cocktail that was recommended: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE:

007 would be proud of our cucumber twist to his classic Vesper Martini: Effen Cucumber Vodka and Hendrick’s Gin with dry vermouth make this drink licensed to kill.

If I remember correctly, Rob had a Manhattan. But he immediately switched to an Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout as soon as he saw that was on tap. Why shouldn’t they have that?! Fitting, no?

Despite my lack of appreciation for vodka, many of the cocktails sounded pretty good! Here are some that I’d consider next time:

Drago – for the horseradish vodka and caviar. {Have I mentioned I love horseradish?!}

Romaschka – I’ve never had honey vodka!

Russian Honey Bee – See above + cider!

Petite Ginger – I like ginger liqueur, but have not had ginger vodka.

Prickly PearSt. Germain elderflower liqueur – duh.

Stalin’s last words – ever since I’ve had Luxardo cherries

With all of those options, I just might have to buy myself a few drinks in advance to add myself to the board.

IMG_2566The chalkboard lists drinks that have been bought for friends. (Or you can buy them for yourself for a future visit.) I’ve seen what I like to a call a Pay-It-Forward Board¬†like this a couple of other times. I love the concept!

And then… the pierogies. They are such a deal at $10 a plate! One plate is a meal in itself.

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These pierogies are nothing like I’ve ever had before! They are a bit more dense, sort of like dumplings, but not. And just look at that sear!

THE POLISH Potato, ground beef, kraut, served with creamy horseradish

THE POLISH –¬†Potato, ground beef, kraut, served with creamy horseradish

These are the best pierogies I’ve ever had! While you can’t tell from these photos, the filling was generous. I loved the texture and got my horseradish fix, too.

And although I’m not a huge bacon fan, I loved Rob’s pierogi as well:

THE COMRADE Potato, cheese, topped with carmelized onion, bacon, sour cream

THE COMRADE –¬†Potato, cheese, topped with carmelized onion, bacon, sour cream

You really can’t go wrong with that combo! I loved these two so much that I’d be hard pressed to try any other, but The Latin and The Easterner really caught my eye, too. Maybe I can get a group of five people to go. {There are five pieces per plate. See what I did there?!}¬†We can order five¬†of the six preparations and I can¬†try one of each. Will you do that for me?

There is much more to the menu than the pierogies, but I’ve¬†heard they are a highlight.

Do you like pierogies?

How do you prepare them?

Cheers~
Carrie

A Dozen Reasons Why I Love The Lowry

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We’ve been to The Lowry in Uptown Minneapolis countless times now. I’ve been collecting photos from each visit for probably the past year and a half. Yeah, I know I’ve said it before, but this post is long overdue.

I didn’t really hit me until recently, but The Lowry is probably one of my favorite places to eat in Minneapolis when it’s just the two of us. When Rob suggests it, I never turn him down. It’s casual, there is an excellent beer selection, the food is comforting and the service is great, too. We always try to get a seat at the bar in possible. This means though, that we have to go at “off” times of the day. It can get pretty busy.

The Lowry,

Oh, how I love you… Let me count a dozen ways….

1) The LOCATION ~ We’ve timed it and even living South of the River, it takes us only approximately 15 to 17 minutes to get there sans traffic.¬†

2) The BEER ~ The beer selection is superb. The Lowry has made our Top 10 Beer Selections in the Twin Cities list.

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Even if we don’t love everything on the list at a given time, there is always a good selection and wide variety to please pretty much any palate. The taps are ever changing. When we sit down at the bar, we get the lastest list on a clipboard like this:

The every-changing tap menu is updated often

The every-changing tap menu is updated often…

We enjoyed quite a few Pumkings here this past season!

We enjoyed quite a few Pumkings here this past season.

3) The WINE ~ There are not a lot of wine options, but it’s not usually why we’re here. In fact, the number of wines on the list has decreased since we started visiting The Lowry. Like its sister Blue Plate restaurant, Scusi, they once used a wine dispenser system:

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It is no longer used for wine, but for their Whiskeys! {Learn more about the different styles of whiskey here.} However, the wines offered are decent if you are not a beer fan or are just in the mood for a glass. But for me, its the Mimosa Service that takes the cake.

Mimosa Service = bottle of Proseco + carafe of OJ

{mix your own to your liking!}

4) The FUN COCKTAILS – If you aren’t really in the mood for beer or wine, there are some unique cocktails as well, including a cocktail of the day. Of course, I love anything with St. Germain. But Rob was draw in by the eggnog-type drink over the holidays!

5) The HAPPY HOUR – The Lowry has an incredible Happy Hour. It’s also one of the only places we go to that allows us to order from the Happy Hour Menu when using a voucher or gift certificate.

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While we usually go for the entrees, we have had a few of the appetizers off their Happy Hour Menu. The Chicken Potstickers I only ordered on a whim… Because the people next to me at the bar ordered them and they smelled so good! And they are…

And nearly all of the beers on the incredible and ever-changing beer menu are $3 – $4. You can tell if a beer is available at Happy Hour pricing by the HH at the end, followed by the Happy Hour price:

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6 ) The PEOPLE – This is a place for Hipsters, although we don’t consider ourselves such. Take a look around at the clientele. It makes for great people-watching! But you’ll find people of all ages and types here, too. Don’t be afraid to stop in if you don’t think you’re hip enough… ūüėČ

7) The SERVICE – We love sitting at the bar because of the exceptional service. It just feels like home to me. Is that weird? It doesn’t feel like I’m at home, just comfortable and relaxed.

9) The SALMON – I am so sad that they are replacing one of my favorite preparations of salmon EVER. It reminded me of the Mediterranean.

Salmon - with fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, olives, asparagus and olive oil

Salmon – with fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, olives, asparagus and olive oil

I have yet to try the replacement, but with “artichoke, tomato, asparagus, pickled onion, arugula and basil oil,” it’s not likely that I’ll be disappointed!

9) The STEAK – On our very first visit, I ordered the Steak Salad. It was highly seasoned and oh-so-good!

STEAK ancho-rubbed, charred corn, tomato, red onion, queso fresco, avocado, tortilla, creamy chipotle dressing

Steak Salad – ancho-rubbed, charred corn, tomato, red onion, queso fresco, avocado, tortilla, creamy chipotle dressing

Every time Rob orders the Steak and Pierogies, he declares his love for them and asks me to remind him to order them again next time:

STEAK & PIEROGIES marinated steak medallions, onion- cheddar pierogies, fried shallots, horseradish sauce

Steak & Pierogiesmarinated steak medallions, onion-cheddar pierogies, fried shallots, horseradish sauce

One item of note: I usually order my steak medium rare. At The Lowry, I’ve learned to order it medium to get my desired doneness. Please know that Sul Lago is still my absolute favorite for steak in the Twin Cities. But The Lowry prepares their steak comfort-food style… with flavor. And I think the steak dishes are a a steal for the price.

10) The BREAKFAST – Many of the breakfast items on The Lowry’s menu are served all day. But go early because it can be hard to get a seat if you are wanting brunch. They do not take reservations, but you can call ahead to get your name on the waiting list. But don’t arrive too early either, or you won’t be able to take advantage of the Mimosa Service, a Bloody Mary or the exceptional beer list.

I believe that in Minneapolis, restaurants can only serve alcohol after 8am Monday through Saturday and after 10am on Sunday. If you do arrive earlier than that, you’ll probably need some coffee anyway.

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I love that The Lowry uses a collection of mismatched mugs. It makes me feel like I’m having coffee at a friend’s place.

When the time comes, you can order that Bloody Mary with your chosen beer chaser:

Bloody Mary and an IPA - my perfect combo

Bloody Mary and an IPA – my perfect combo

I love eggs, so there’s not much that can go wrong with a breakfast menu like theirs. Rob found a favorite in the Shirred Eggs!

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11) The HOURS – The Lowry is open 6:30am until 2:30am every day. Seriously. We love that you can go there during pretty much any waking hour! And many menu items are available all day. Since it gets very busy on the weekends at brunch-ish time, we like to go earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon.

Happy Hour is from 4p – 7p and 10p – close every day. And the kitchen is open until 1am! There is also a Breakfast Happy Hour on weekdays from 8a – 11a. Not sure there are many individuals who have the freedom to partake in that, though.

What really impressed us, though, was that The Lowry opened on Christmas Day at 5pm. We had just returned from Green Bay and didn’t have anything nor want to cook. Upon arrival, we ordered one of the most comforting dishes on the menu:

BEEF STROGANOFF chive sour cream, fried shallots, pappardelle noodle

Beef Stroganoff – chive sour cream, fried shallots, pappardelle noodle

That dish is seriously good. It’s not a traditional stroganoff to me, but the fresh herbs in the dish drive me wild!

12) The FOOD – There are so many great items on the menu that make our bellies happy. There’s always something new to try, especially now that they changing up their menu a bit. We’ve very rarely been disappointed. Here are some thoughts on a few of the other dishes:

Lowry12Grilled Cheese РIt has great cheese, but the sauce inside was weird. It is described as a tomato chutney, but it tasted more like you put ketchup on my grilled cheese! NOOOOO!!!  But the tomato soup shooter with pesto was to die for.

Lowry3Burgers – Guru Rob was not a huge fan of the burgers and fries here, rating them as average. But there are plenty of other places where we can find stellar burgers and fries. Besides, there is too much other yummy goodness on these menus.

Turkey Burger – On the other hand, I love the turkey burger here. It’s essentially the same as the one at their sister restaurant, Groveland Tap.

Mac & Cheese Lowry7Rob described it as having great flavors of swiss and smoked gouda. He thought it was creamy and cheesy and said he’d definitely get it again. I took a taste and thought there was a hint of bacon, although there was no bacon in the dish. I think it’s the smoked gouda that gives it the smokiness reminiscent of bacon. You can order this with ham and tomato, if you so desire, but Rob would never do that.

Oysters – Well, these are a no brainer. If you like oysters, knock some back. They’ve recently added fried oysters and an oyster sandwich to the menu!

Poutine Lowry8– Rob absolutely adored the poutine here, when it was made with beef. They recently changed¬† it up to pork belly. He was worried that it just wouldn’t be the same. Truth is, I think he liked it even more!

Lowry11Cheese Curds – These went away for a brief period of time and Rob was so bummed! But they are back on the menu. They are jalapeno cheese curbs with a side of blueberry ketchup. Sound strange? Maybe. But it really works! The sweetness in the blueberry flavor balances out the spice.

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When The Lowry first opened it was advertised as:

The LowryBurgers | Whiskey | Oysters | Eggs

I thought the combination sounded odd the first time I heard about this restaurant. And now that we’ve visited, I’m not sure that I’d describe it that way. Sure, all of those things have a presence on the menu, but not a big one (except maybe the eggs). And there is no mention of beer with their great beer selection! I have noticed that on their makeover menu, they how describe it this way:

The LowryAn Urban Diner

I think that fits a little bit better.

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What are your favorite comfort foods?

Has a restaurant ever taken one of your favorite comfort food classics and made it even better?

Cheers~
Carrie