Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Lyndale Tap House

Visited on Thursday, October 29th with Kate and Kyle

[I (Erin) didn't have my camera, so all photos in this post are taken by Kate of Red Apple Images - thanks Kate! No pics of the interior or exterior though, so if you want to see those, check out the Heavy Table review for more great photos]

Erin's Review
I read a few blogs/newsletters that list which restaurants are opening each week, and add places to our list accordingly. I'd added Lyndale Tap House whenever I saw that it opened, so I was interested to read Heavy Table's review of the place. While it was pretty negative, I didn't want to rule it out based on that one review alone. Kate and I quickly decided we'd go to see for ourselves if it really was that bad.

Ben and I got there a bit early, at 5:45, and were seated at a huge booth. There are a few booths in the place, and also some high top tables in the bar area with chairs that have no backs. I hate those type of chairs, so it was a good thing we weren't seated at one of those tables :) Since the main complaint of the Heavy Table review was about the ambiance and clientele of this bar, we were on high alert, but the place was pretty much empty and very sedate when we got there so there wasn't anything for us to be annoyed about, no matter how hard we tried to find it :)

I was so hungry I couldn't even wait for Kyle and Kate to get there before ordering the pretzels. In fact, they were lucky we even saved 2 for them :) (the main reason we saved any was just to get a photo) Those pretzels were delicious and I would personally be satisfied just going to this place right after work for a few rounds of pretzels and some beer (if I could drink beer, that is). I think most people know I'm 100% satisfied with Miller Lite, so I had no qualms about the beer list at all - it actually seemed to me that they had a pretty nice list that will certainly please most people who will frequent this bar, even if they didn't have many local options.

Lyndale Tap House

I vaguely recalled that Heavy Table said the Tap House Burger was pretty good, so I went with that. I asked if they had American cheese as I prefer that on my burgers, but alas, no. Just cheddar. I guess this MUST be a high class establishment ;) The rest of the table got Pit sandwiches, and I think I was probably the most satisfied with my meal of everyone. The pit sandwiches had an absurd amount of meat on them, especially Kate's pit beef. She also noted that her sandwich wasn't really quite hot, and vaguely tasted of cumin which she doesn't like. Everyone did love the fries, especially with the cheddar ale sauce.

Lyndale Tap House

Lyndale Tap House
Kate's Pit Beef

I can never resist dessert anymore, so I ordered the whoopie pie with warm chocolate sauce. As the cheapest item on the dessert menu, I expected it to be small, but no - this thing was ENORMOUS - far too big for us to finish. It was pretty good, but I thought it could have used more filling, and really did not need to be that big. It certainly satisfied my chocolate craving, but I probably wouldn't order it again.

Lyndale Tap House

Lyndale Tap House

One thing to note is that the SECOND Kate took out her camera, the manager came over and asked if we were with a media outlet, and kind of played it off saying she wanted to make sure she wasn't missing an appointment. We just said that the photos were for our blog and that seemed to satisfy her. After that, someone was at our table probably every 4 minutes, asking if we wanted more beer, anything else, filling water, etc. It was a little much but I guess they are just trying to be careful. Especially asking about more beer got old - it seems like this might be the type of place where people just pound beers one after another, but that wasn't really what we were going for at 6:30pm on a Thursday night, which seemed obvious to me.

We really would have no reason to go back to Lyndale Tap House because - 1. it's in uptown and thus is a pain in the butt to get to from our house, and 2. it isn't as good as other bars much closer to our house (Muddy Pig, Happy Gnome, BDP). However, that being said, I would have no problem going back if a friend was having a gathering there, and if I lived in the neighborhood I'd certainly go there for happy hour often.

Ben's Review
For some reason Heavy Table's poor review of Lyndale Tap House convinced Erin and Kate to try this place out last week. I had low expectations after reading the review, but I figured the least I could do was go and be satisfied that my assumptions were correct.

We got to the restaurant after a long rush hour drive from downtown Minneapolis to the Flat Earth brewery (W. 7th & Snelling in St. Paul) to get a growler and then from there to uptown. Not so much fun on a rainy day.

Miraculously, I found a parking spot on Lyndale about one block away and the meters there are only enforced till 6pm so I only had to throw in one quarter. This was all a pleasant surprise to me as I had expected a nasty parking situation.

I easily found Erin when I got inside as the place wasn't busy at all, which was a definite plus in my book. She was sitting along the back wall by the cook's counter in one of those half circle booths, which I love. Our server came over to get my drink order while we waited for Kate and Kyle to arrive and after trying to get a Summit Oktoberfest (it had switched to winter ale already, wtf? I hate that) I settled on a Bell's Two Hearted. I also learned that it was happy hour till 7pm, which meant half price taps and appetizers. Upon hearing that we also ordered some of the pretzels, which were one of the few things recommended in the Heavy Table review.

At this point, I'm feeling pretty good about this place. Half price taps and appetizers is a fantastic happy hour deal and the fact that it runs till 7pm is awesome, as you can basically get happy hour deals all through dinner on a weeknight. The tap selection, while not featuring many local beers, is still a great list of beers with a variety of styles so everyone can find something they like. The pretzels didn't disappoint and the cheddar ale sauce and the honey mustard that comes with them are both delicious, we even got more of the cheddar ale sauce for our fries with our meals.

I've been craving pork lately so I jumped on the pit pork sandwich with fries. Kyle order of the pit Cuban tempted me for a moment (especially since I had seen the Cuban at the Muddy Pig earlier in the week and that looked fantastic), but I stuck with my guns on the pork. The sandwich came loaded with meat as I had read about previously and it was 'OK', not awesome but certainly not bad. It made me crave a pulled pork sandwich even more :) The fries were really good and they were clearly freshly made, which I believe can make or break a meal, and were even better in the cheddar ale sauce. With our meal I got another beer, this time the Two Brother's Cane & Ebel.

Lyndale Tap House

Lyndale Tap House
Kyle's Pit Cuban

As we were getting up to leave I realized that it was nearly full in the restaurant now. I had been facing the kitchen the entire time so I didn't notice the trickle of people coming in. They have a nice long bar with several TV tuned into the World Series, it seemed like a good place to watch sports. I think if we had arrived at 7 instead of 5:45 I wouldn't have liked this place as much, but as it turns out I would come back here for happy hour or an early weeknight meal.
  • Service: Our server was nice, as was the manager, but they became a little overbearing after they discovered we were blogging about them.
  • Food: Good bar food, awesome pretzels (and only $2.50 at happy hour :)
  • Drinks: Great, diverse beer list and a full bar. Excellent happy hour.
  • Ambiance: At 6pm on a weeknight the ambiance was great for me, kind of low key as they get ready for the busy time of the night. I doubt I would ever come here on a weekend evening.
  • Price: Meal prices are reasonable for what you get. The beer taps are in the $5-$6 range, but are half off during happy hour.
  • Convenience: Even though I found a parking spot, I'm calling that an outlier. Normally going to uptown is a headache and I'll stand by that.
The Lyndale Tap House
2937 Lyndale Ave S.