There is an abundant crop of new fresh, organic and/or local restaurants popping up in South Minneapolis this season. Each of these spots have a unique identity and wildly different menus and atmospheres; some offer casual elegance along with fantastic food; other on the list dish up scrumptious delights in a more relaxed café environment; and still others are great gourmet picnic fare. All of these restaurants offer organic and/or locally sourced food. No matter where you choose to go, you simply can’t go wrong with any of these dining destinations.
Be prepared to wait, but the wait is more than worth it. Tilia can be described as decadent comfort food served in the warm, comfortable glow of good conversation with friends. This tiny eatery in the heart of Linden Hills is one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in a great while. Every bite of the food was delectable; the kind you want to stop your conversation and savor each pleasing bite. Executive Culinary Director and part-owner, Steven Brown, can be seen checking on diners, discussing matters with staff and delivering their edible masterpieces to tables. If you go, and you should, do yourself a favor and order the brisket. You can thank me later; it’s that good.
In Season focuses on the foods that are in season, changing the menu with the change of each season. This fresh approach is spot on, as this Armatage neighborhood restaurant fills its space night after night with diners who are pleased as punch. One of my dining companions described her couscous salad as a symphony of flavors; and it was; she graciously let me taste it. Each dish had an apparent attention to detail, starting with the bread and butter. Ah, the butter. It was a mixture of honey, lemon zest and butter and made us want to lick the tiny bowl clean even when we ran out of bread to smear it on. We ate to our hearts’ content, loving every single bite. And even though we swore we didn’t have room for dessert, we acquiesced once we saw the heavenly chocolate terrine with peanut butter mousse and peanut brittle. We went home quite full and quite happy.
Bread and Pickle is actually a concession stand at Lake Harriet in the pavilion next to the bandshell. Re-opening this year as Bread and Pickle, under the management of Kim Bartmann of Red Stag Supperclub, Barbette, Bryant Lake Bowl and now Gigi’s, the menu is a bit more sophisticated offering locally sourced and organic choices of sandwiches, salads, pastries and snacks. The Veggie Wrap made with Holy Land Deli Hummus is scrumptious and huge. One of my favorite items on the menu is Red Stag’s Truffle Popcorn, just a tad sweet and a tad salty. Another nice feature at Bread and Pickle is the water fountain made to refill bottles or cups of water, rather than buying yet another plastic bottle of water. And outdoor dining spots are prime for the picking, whether you choose a picnic table with a view of the lake, a grassy hill near the music in the band shell or atop the wooded hill overlooking it all.
Whatever you do, make sure you leave room in your belly for the frozen custard. This might prove harder than you think once you take a look at the menu and realize that everything, save the pastries which come from The Salty Tart, are produced on their farm near Plato, MN. Talk about fresh. Wise Acre comes to us from the same folks who own and run Tangletown Gardens across the street. The dishes are lively and inventive; and oh so good. Even the apples sitting in a big bowl on the counter, that my sons insisted on getting, tasted fresher and crisper here. Come for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just custard; eat inside or outside or order it to go from the convenient walk-up windows. While everything on the menu sounds scrumptious, the frozen custard, sweetened with honey and drizzled with a fantastic chocolate sauce, is divine. With one tiny spoonful, I was transported to a big farm house porch, looking out over the land and animals that helped to produce this amazing frozen goodness.
This location has been several different restaurants over the last few years. When I was there, it was hopping with activity, which I took as a good sign. My dining companion and I went with the advice of our waiter and ordered the guacamole with homemade tortilla chips and spicy lamb burger. The guacamole was exceedingly fresh and full of avocado flavor, not bombarded with other ingredients covering up the luscious avocado as so many guacamoles are. The fresh homemade chips were also quite tasty. While the spicy lamb burger is not something I would have ordered without prompting, it was delightful with a bit of a kick thanks to the sriracha mayo and pico de gallo. The only downfall we encountered was the from-the-bag, frozen French fries that came with the burger. The manager did assure me that they are working on perfecting their sweet potato fries that aren’t from a bag. So, to be on the safe side, order the fresh homemade tortilla chips as your side.
This neighborhood eatery serves it’s fresh, spicy locally sourced bison chili in bowls, on fries and on nachos, but why not, it’s so tasty. Of the 7 people in our party, 4 of us had the bison chili in some form. There are a lot of other tasty things on the menu like the fresh and flavorful salads and big and juicy burgers, but the bison chili was a standout for us. Our party also unanimously agreed that the desserts were stellar, particularly the rich and moist chocolate oatmeal stout cake. Low Brow claims to be family-friendly with a children’s menu and Etch-a-Sketches for each child to occupy his or her time while awaiting the arrival of the food, but the general attitude was not perceived as child welcoming. There service overall was not impeccable, but I’m willing to chock that up to the newness of the restaurant and try it again, without the kids in tow.
Anna Berend is an attorney and the author of Motherly Law Blog. On Motherly Law, Anna writes about legal issues that affect families and offers tips and resources that pertain to those legal topics. On occasion, inspiration strikes and Anna writes about something totally unrelated to the law.You can find Anna at motherlylaw.com, on Facebook at Motherly Law and on Twitter @MotherlyLaw.