Reporting Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl
The holy grail of the Minnesota summer: A spot with a staggering view, and fantastic food. Does it exist? Yes! Of course, we all know of the summer hotspots with great views and average, to be kind, food. And we know the places with cozy green patios and good food—but they’re not “wow, look-at-that!” tourist destinations. Is there anywhere you can you go for off-the-charts good food and a view that’s fit for a postcard? Oh yeah there is! And now, Dara’s top five!
318 E Lake St.
Waconia, MN 55387
This place always looked like a million bucks, a seaside clapboard palace straight out of picture-postcards of the Maine coast, but, that’s freshwater lake Waconia out there! When owner Dermot Cowley put longtime La Belle Vie cook Brian Crouch in charge of the kitchen, it just leapfrogged into a class by itself. Their new spring menu is gorgeous: Shrimp carbonara, rainbow trout primavera, a beautiful smoky paella with top of the line scallops, steaks, and prime rib on Fridays and Saturdays! It’s the only place I know of in Minnesota where you can get good old supper-club prime rib and some four-star quality cooking—with a vacation view!
310 S Washington St.
Lake City, MN 55041
Road trip! In pretty Lake City, Minnesota, right on the Mississippi where water-skiing was invented, Nosh has truly spectacular, San Francisco-worthy food by young chef Greg Jaworski. Best paella in the state, soft-shell crabs in season, a great cult-beer list, the nicest staff in the world—one of the top outstate restaurants by any metric, and well worth the hour and a half drive from St. Paul. Last spring Dara road-tripped down to Nosh to check out their fabulous paella and you can read about it here!
The Sample Room
2124 Marshall St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
Also Dara’s pick for the top off-the-radar restaurant in Minnesota, the kitchen at the Sample Room was taken over last fall by Travail and Pat’s Tap alum Geoff Hausmann, who is a staggeringly good meat artist. Try any of the charcuterie (salami, etc.) but especially the foie gras baloney—it’s like a sweet cloud of meat, come down to earth. And everything is beautiful, perfectly cooked salmon, graceful salads, just wonderful. And the big patio outside looks over the mighty Mississippi, toddle down to the dock for some Huck Finn feelings. Dara dug into the Sample Room and others recently in an article in Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine which you can read here!
Louis at Cossetta Alimentari
211 7th Street West
Saint Paul, MN 55102
The new St. Paul rooftop restaurant fancy-pants destination on top of Cossetta’s is a part of St. Paul we’ve never seen before, with the best Italian desserts in town, exquisite antipasti, and the view! Definitely something St. Paulites with out of towners have been desperately needing, and deserving—so get on up there and appreciate it! Check out Stephanie March’s glowing review back in the February issue of Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine.
Wilde Roast Café
65 SE Main St.
Minneapolis, MN 55414
What if you’re on a budget? Grab that decadent chocolate cake and a latte and one of the precious water-view tables in front of the new location of Oscar Wilde, the great northeast coffee shop-with-more which relocated to the riverfront this year, in the old Sophia’s/Yvette space. Dara loves Oscar Wilde for its desserts above all, and how great to be able to stroll over the Stone Arch Bridge after all the good chocolate?