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Lyndale Tap House

21 Jan

Lyndale Tap House
Visited Wednesday, January 12, 2011

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Ryan
Wednesday night, Lauren and I checked out the Lyndale Tap House for the first time since it opened a year ago in our neighborhood. I had bought one of those Crowd Cut coupons—$20 for $40 worth of food. Along for the outing were friends Christopher and Sarah.

We arrived with 30 minutes left to go during Happy Hour. They had some killer specials! 2-for-1 on all domestic beers and 1/2 price apps. When I see domestic taps on special, it usually seems to be just the Budweiser, Miller Lite, maybe Leinenkugel’s kinda thing. But they included all the fancy domestics beers, so I opted for the Bell’s Two Hearted and Lauren went with Magic Hat #9. We sure were thirsty, because we each managed to get in a second 2-for-1 before Happy Hour ended at 7. We also tried the soft pretzels (came in breadstick form) with spicy mustard, and Sarah ordered the pork belly appetizer for the group. Both appetizers were very tasty, excellent ways to start our meal.

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Lyndale Tap House is known for their “pit” meats, which are described as slow-cooked meats that are grilled over coals, blended with secret spices and then left to simmer for three days, and finally slow-cooked over an oak fire grill until crispy on the outside. Wow, that sounded amazing! I went the non-traditional route and chose the Latin Pig, which is pit pork drenched in mandarin habanero sauce with avocado, cilantro, and mayo, served with a side of fries. My sandwich was excellent—the meat was as good as described, and provided just a pinch of heat. There seemed to be an excess of bun and not as much meat as I would have preferred, otherwise a solid sandwich. The fries were good, nothing terribly extraordinary.

Lyndale Tap House, Minneapolis

The Latin Pork sandwich with fries

The restaurant itself was very dark—quite a bit dimmer than your typical bar. The wait staff was over to check on us often. Our only issue was our $40 coupon didn’t apply to Happy Hour purchases, so we didn’t actually spend enough money to use it.  Instead, we shared it with Walsh and Sarah. So really I ended up just breaking even on the deal since I spent $20 to get the coupon, and then essentially redeemed it for $20 off.  One thing we’d like to do in the future is check out their brunch menu, which appears to be served Sunday mornings. Anyway, it is a place I’d check out again for sure.

Lauren

It seems like a recurring theme on this site that we go to a restaurant that was panned during its opening and have a better-than-decent time. Enter Lyndale Tap House. Again, not great reviews when it first opened. But we had a good time!

Ryan bought the Crowd Cut as a little Christmas present for me, and unlike most of those deals that we have, we didn’t let it sit unused for months! We made plans to meet up with Chris and Sarah to have dinner there.

We arrived around 6:15 and perused the happy hour specials. When we saw that “domestic beers” were on special we were expecting to see the usual Coors Light and Budweiser; imagine the shock when Magic Hat #9, Bells Two Hearted, and Crispin Cider were included! And that wasn’t all, they had a shockingly good draft list.

It was a while before Chris and Sarah joined us; they had to find parking whereas we were able to walk from our apartment. So we had lots of time to peruse the menu and knew we wanted to order the pretzels when they arrived around 6:40. We polished those off shortly, and Sarah decided to order the pork belly appetizer as well. I would love to tell you that I tried some; between the very dim lighting and my general fear of unknown meats, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat any of it. Good job on Chris, Sarah and Ryan for being more adventurous than myself!

So Ryan has already spoken of the hook at LTH, the pit meats. Once I saw that they had a Cuban sandwich I was all over that business. HOWEVER. I must not have read the menu entirely because I assumed that they would be doing a faithful adaptation of the sandwich but what was brought to me was NOT a Cuban sandwich. To start out with the bread was about 5″ tall, and it was a Kaiser roll, and it was NOT pressed. After that, there was swiss cheese, and lightly pickled cucumbers…almost sweet. I do recall that the menu said that they were refrigerator pickles, so those don’t get as “pickle-y” as other pickles, so I guess I can live with that.

I need to take a moment before I talk about the last part.

On the sandwich. They put. HONEY MUSTARD. Like any iconic food there is much debate about what makes a “real” Cuban. Are tomatoes allowed? Lettuce? Mayo? But a few things aren’t debated: Pork. Swiss cheese. Yellow mustard. NOT honey mustard.

So let’s just leave it at this: The meat was good. The Cuban sandwich was NOT a Cuban sandwich.

However: Sarah and I spied on their brunch menu something called “Hard Cider French Toast” so that’s been occupying my thoughts pretty intensely ever since…

Lyndale Tap House, Minneapolis

Lauren's Cuban Sandwich

Ambiance – It was a little heavy on the “Bro’s ‘N Ho’s” environment when we were there… it feels like one big bar, which could be good or bad. It was quite dim when were were there, but I bet it’s really bright and friendly during daylight.
Service – Decent, no complaints. We were hanging out for quite a while before ordering food and she was cool with that, and she sneaked in a second happy hour drink order at the last second for us. Props!
Food – THAT WAS NOT A CUBAN SANDWICH. But the meat was tasty.
Overall experience – Good! I think it would be a fun place to go during a football game or for a happy hour get-together.

The Necessities
Lyndale Tap House
2937 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
612.825.6150

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Jimmy John’s

20 Apr

Last Friday, I decided to have lunch at Jimmy John’s in Chanhassen over my lunch break.  No, this was not my first visit to Jimmy John’s, and no, Jimmy John’s does not really deserve an entry on this blog.  But it has been so long since I’ve remembered to take my camera with me to a restaurant and photograph my food that I decided I couldn’t pass up the chance to review one of my favorite places to get a quick lunch for under $8.

I have eaten at Jimmy John’s probably 40 times over the last few years, and I have only ordered one sandwich off the menu: the Bootlegger Club, #14.  I specifically ask for no mayo and add sprouts every time.  I am not interested in trying any of the other sandwiches, because I found one that I like very much and I’m sticking with it.

Jimmy John's #14 Bootlegger Club, Jalapeno chips, and fountain soda

I knew what I’d be getting.  I knew it would be created fast and fresh and it would be delicious, filling, and inexpensive.  But on this occasion, I decided to add the chips and pop for an extra fee.  I opted for the jalapeno chips and a Mello Yello fountain drink.  Excellent decision!  The spicy, crunchy chips and the sugary soda really brought out the flavor of the turkey and roast beef, making me enjoy my meal that much more.  Well worth the extra dollar or two.

I must say though, the employees there are too excited when a customer walks in.  I’m sure they’re trained to excitedly greet everyone, but I sometimes choose to go somewhere to eat where the employees won’t make a spectacle of my arrival and departure.  On this occasion an employee cleaning the area stopped to chat with me for a while.  Nice guy, but again, overly happy.

Overall, my experience was good.  I am certain I’ll go back time and time again for more hearty goodness on my lunch breaks.  Though I tend to bring my lunch more often to save money, I usually will go out for lunch the Friday after payday since it seems like I have so much extra cash to throw around.  How quickly that changes.