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DeRusha Eats: Jax Café

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In a Minnesota, there are a lot of us who love to sit by the lake and fish.

And there are others, who would want some better odds. For them, there’s a legendary Northeast Minneapolis restaurant where you can catch your own dinner — Jax Café.

Jax boasts a breathtaking patio, and it’s very own trout stream.

“People swear they have walleye or salmon out here, but it’s always been rainbow trout,” said Bill Kozlak, the owner of Jax.

The restaurant has been in his family for 80 years. His uncles got the idea for the trout stream from visiting a Chicago restaurant in the ‘50s.

“They had fish in a stream…it was just for a display,” Kozlak said. “And they came back with the idea, and said, Let’s take it a little further.”

The rainbow trout are raised on a farm in Rochester, Minn.

“Long before farm to table, we take the farmer out, it goes from Jax’s stream to the table,” Kozlak said.

Bob Foster ate his first rainbow trout at the restaurant more than 30 years ago.

Now he’s cooking them up.

“That’s a blessing and a burden,” he said. “Sometimes they come out perfect, sometimes they come out a little wanky.”

What does Jax do with the trout in the winter?

“People ask all the time,” Kozlak said. “They have no idea that this is Minnesota and [the stream] is only a foot-and-a-half deep and, yes, we drain the stream. And we sell out the trout in the fall. I bet I get asked that twice a week.”

Eating at Jax is a family tradition — many proms or wedding dinners have started there, and ended on the patio, or in the stream.

“A couple wedding parties have had a groomsman or two [fall in the stream], but no injuries,” Kozlak said.

They filet the fish out of sight. And the taste couldn’t be any fresher.

You can net your own trout until October. Jax got a late start this year, because the stream was frozen.

Jax is celebrating turning 80 years this year. If you’d like to learn more about the restaurant, visit its website.

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