It’s a good thing Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”. It takes a good 2-3 mile walk around one of them to counter the effects of the 10,000 restaurants, and I’m pretty sure that is only counting Minneapolis!
Last weekend we spent a little over 24 hours in Minneapolis visiting my son’s girlfriend. She lives in the LynLake neighborhood, a young, vibrant area just south of downtown. Parking is pretty scarce, but once you find a spot, you can walk to whatever you want to see, do or EAT!
Our first stop was Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza. I think the pictures speak for themselves, but I’m going to ramble on about it anyway. Top left is the “Persian Beef, Tomato, Feta and Harissa”. Bottom left is the “Fennel Sausage, Hot Salami, Onion and Cracked Green Olives”. On the right is the safety net … Pepperoni! They also had a couple appetizers that I wanted to try (e.g. Roasted Olive and Garlic, Eggplant Dip, Meatballs), but we chose to focus on the main attraction. Every time I have pizza like this, I leave trying to figure out how in the world I’m going to get a pizza oven installed in our house or on the patio.
This is where all those lakes come in handy. It was a beautiful night so we went for a walk around Lake of the Isles. There were people enjoying walks and runs, hammocks, picnics, paddle boards and kayaks. Lovely homes and churches surround the lake, and every once in a while, you get a great view of downtown (see photo above). We walked off some of our pizza, an activity that usually leads to dessert.
My son’s girlfriend has already learned my husband’s motto: “There’s always room for ice cream!” So, being the smart gal that she is, she took us to Milkjam Creamery, her favorite ice cream shop. It was obvious many people feel the same because there was a line out the door and down the block … always a good sign.
If you thought we tried some unusual combinations on the pizzas, you will not believe these flavors:
- Blueberry Sour Cream Cheesecake
- PB Banana with Oreo Chunks
- The Darkest Cocoa (pictured in waffle cone)
- Ritz Cracker with Honeycomb Candy
- Cow, Caramelized Goat and Condensed Milks
- Vietnamese Coffee with Hennessy (yes, whiskey)
- Raspberry/Cassis with Black Pepper and White Chocolate
Any guesses which one I chose? Would it help if I said that Cassis is a black currant liqueur? You might notice there isn’t a picture of it (other than the bottom right of the menu board). Sometimes I am just too entranced to think to take a picture. I apologize.
We agreed that we would meet up again a little later the next morning and go for brunch. Once again, she had a favorite spot picked out: French Meadow.
This place spoke to my inner brunch-picnic-foodie immediately. Even though the patio area is street-side, they have surrounded it with gorgeous plants and flowers so you feel like you are in a park. The outdoor seating area is dog-friendly (it is evident this city loves their dogs). Top that off with some seriously hearty portions of just about every good brunch option and this gal is clap-your-hands happy!
My husband and son chose the Breakfast Burrito (one with bison sausage and the other with chicken chorizo), she chose the eggs benedict, and I debated and debated until the waitress finally helped me choose the Signature Deep Dish Quiche with goat cheese, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. I love the fact that this quiche came with a lightly dressed mixed greens salad and homemade strawberry jam. No one at our table left disappointed or hungry, that’s for sure!
So what do you do after a hearty late-morning meal? Mini-Golf! Our family has a slightly ridiculous obsession with this activity. It started on one of our early family vacations when we were looking for something affordable that we could all do. Our boys are almost 5 years apart in age which is a big gap in interests and ability levels. 18 holes of unpredictable results and challenges is just the ticket. We have sought out mini-golf courses ever since and the competition has gone from “good-for-you” and “nice putt” to unintentional coughing spells, accidental contact during the backswing, and required asterisk labeling of questionable score counts. Who knew that mini-golf would also serve as a litmus test for the boys’ girlfriends … she passed with flying colors, by the way.
With only a few hours left in our tour, there was one more stop that we had to make for a true Minneapolis experience … a brewery. The craft beer industry has exploded across the country with the styles and flavors of beer, making sampling an activity in itself.
We visited two breweries in the LynLake area … the LynLake Brewery and the Herkimer Pub and Brewery. I know this sounds a lot like bar-hopping (no pun intended) but what is so cool about visiting these breweries is the experience. Many are housed in very old, historical buildings that have been refurbished and restored. Ordering a “flight” allows you to try 4-5 of their flagships and seasonal varieties.
The LynLake Brewery is located in the historic Lyndale Theater complete with a rooftop patio and views of downtown (not to mention other rooftop patios). The Herkimer, located just a few buildings down the street, serves food (try the Spent Grain Pretzels made from the leftover grains used in the brewing process). They also have a patio complete with bag-toss games. So even if you are not a fan of beer (like my husband), there are ways to enjoy a non-alcoholic visit … most offer frosty mugs of house-made root beer!
The Herkimer also gave us a glimpse of what we should do the next time we visit: the PedalPub Taste-Eat Street Tour. Their website describes the event:
“When you join this tour, we’ll be enjoying food both on the PedalPub® bike and inside select restaurants. Drink pairings are recommended on the menu so you can bring aboard these beverages and enjoy these international food delights with your favorite drink. We’ll pedal our way down Eat Street and through the trendy Uptown area, learn about the history of
Minneapolis and soak in the local culture.”
Fresh air, cold beer, great food … put them all together and what do you have?
A recipe for the perfect nap in the car on the way home …
Credit to my husband who always gets me safely home and probably appreciates a little peace and quiet every once in a while.
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