Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lake & Irving – Minneapolis, MN

D.Rough and I set up a double date with two of our favorite people, LowVee and Kevin, at Lake & Irving in Minneapolis. They had some interesting things on the menu that I was looking forward to trying.

We grabbed some drinks and some ciders before ordering and then set out to find the best things L&I had to offer. We ordered some homemade corn nuts (duh) and some pork aranchini bites. D.Rough wanted the Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich with Duroc bacon, pepperjack, and served on sourdough. I had been dying to try the L&I Half Smokes – chili dogs with Duroc pork and beef sausage and chuck chili.

The corn nuts come in a small paper bag with an appropriate amount of grease residue on the outside of the bag. The little nuggets were super tasty and fried well – I’m not even sure how these things are made (probably wizardry), but I’m glad someone figured them out. We probably should have gotten two orders of these…

The aranchini bites were decent. Not fantastic, but just good. They were a little small, but they’re BITES, after all. They didn’t have a ton of flavor, but they kept our mouths full until the meals arrived. Again, not terrible or anything, but fell a little short (mainly because we’ve eaten these things in Italy and it’s hard to compare them to the US versions).

D.Rough’s Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich looked better than it tasted (despite the poor quality of the photo due to dim lighting). The chicken was fried well, but didn’t end up being as juicy as she had hoped. The pepperjack flavor didn’t come through but the sauce drizzled on it was pretty good. She had to look for the bacon pieces, so obviously there wasn’t a lot of bacon flavor in the sandwich, either. She was fine with the sandwich, but she’d order something else the next time we go back.

The Half Smokes I had high hopes for, since they had been written up in Citipages or some other food-related publication. The dogs were cooked well and had good flavor, but I was really surprised at the minimal flavor of the chili that was on top when I tasted it alone. I couldn’t tell where the pork stopped and chili began – but there was a lot of it piled on the dog. It tasted fine, but I really thought it would be a big bold meat flavor and it wasn’t. It could probably be compared to a decent chili dog, but when you get them at a nicer restaurant, you expect something to pop or stand out. These were just alright, I’m sorry to say. Even the fries were just about average.

I’m not saying it was a terrible meal. I’m just saying I’d order something different the next time we go there. We’ll likely be back, but we’ve got a few other places in Uptown to hit up before then. That being said, our next double date with LowVee and Kevin is going to be something crazy. I’m sure of it.

Top 5 things about Lake & Irving
1. Corn Nuts – homemade!
2. Full bar, so good drink selection
3. Open late with limited food offerings
4. They do have a parking lot in back
5. The brunch menu looks pretty fantastic

Bottom 5 things
1. Half Smokes/Chili Dogs
2. Aranchini Bites
3. Average fries
4. Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich
5. It’s fairly pricey for the quality of the food we got that evening

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