Sun! Sip! Sup!
24 Great Places to Eat and Drink Outdoors
(page 5 of 5)
410 Saint Peter St., St. Paul
THE VIEW: The Landmark Center across the street looming majestically, like a northern European castle. Hark! Are those horse-drawn carriages you see? Yup. On Friday and Saturday nights, mosey on over and cap off your meal with a carriage tour of regal downtown St. Paul.
THE VIBE: Chic urban professionals. You’ll know the architects and artists by their bold eyewear, and the frequent European travelers by the relieved looks of satisfaction they wear.
THE VITAL TIP: A tough reservation 90 minutes before any show at the Ordway, but pretty easy to get any other time. That said, if you’re a Minnesota Opera or St. Paul Chamber Orchestra season-ticket holder, there’s nothing wrong with making reservations well in advance.
Meritage’s chef Russell Klein can trace his cooking pedigree directly to Escoffier, due to his formative years as a young chef coming up in New York City under David Bouley. Will the average diner care? Yes, because Klein takes serious cooking seriously, even when there are frivolous things on the plates like his summer lunch special of the classic East Coast beach food, the Maine lobster roll. Sure, there are ways to cut corners with lobster rolls, chief among them using frozen lobster, but with one eye on Escoffier, Klein takes the trouble to fly in live lobster, boil them off daily, dress lightly, and serve with the exact right butter-seared workaday hot-dog buns that lobster rolls are supposed to go in. And that’s just a lobster roll. You should see what he does with soft duck eggs, morels, and green garlic, or roasted rack of Iowa lamb en tourte. Escoffier would be proud. —DARA MOSKOWITZ GRUMDAHL
The Sample Room
2124 Marshall St. NE, Mpls.
THE VIEW: Potted plants outside and local art inside
THE VIBE: Upscale, but still eclectic Nordeast
THE VITAL TIP: The savings add up at happy hour with $1.50 Grain Belt, $3 appetizers, and $3 off most drinks (3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday).
The petite patio at the Sample Room may not take advantage of the view of neighboring Gluek’s Riverside Park, but under the overhang is a quiet place to enjoy a brew and a bite on a sunny day. And the drink menu here could make any hour happy, with local brews like Surly Furious and Grain Belt Nordeast, a selection of wine flights, and ’tinis and ’tails, such as the popular French 75, to choose from. Plus, you gotta love any Nordeast eatery with ample off-street parking. —Ellie Bayrd
Trïa Restaurant Bar and Market
5959 Centerville Rd., North Oaks
THE VIEW: Park-like atmosphere of Presbyterian Home grounds next door
THE VIBE: Suburban casual
THE VITAL TIP: Patio tables usually available on Sunday, but make patio reservations for Friday or Saturday
Although Trïa Restaurant regularly serves residents of North Oaks and the surrounding areas, they are just as welcoming to city dwellers. The patio has a subdued feeling with sounds of birds and a nearby fountain accompanying the quiet music piped outside. After dark, table candles, patio lights, and the outdoor fireplace set the mood even more. And if you’re an animal lover, the staff would love to relate the amusing legend of Morgan the pig, portrayed in a bronze cast in the entryway. —JOCELYN STONE
374 Selby Ave., St. Paul
THE VIEW: A green forest of majestic elms, oaks, and ash trees swaying overhead, a patio of brick, ivy, and lush plantings below.
THE VIBE: Everyone who’s everyone comes to Frost: Nervous couples in careful dress on first dates; couples celebrating their 40th wedding anniversaries; girlfriends weighed down with fancy wrapped birthday presents; families with great-grandma in a wheelchair and newborns in strollers.
THE VITAL TIP: Reservations, reservations, reservations: The beauty of the Frost patio is about as big a secret as the fact that the sun rises in the east. If you want to partake on a prime-time Saturday night call well in advance or be prepared to wait. And we do mean call: Open Table can only be used for inside reservations, generally not patio reservations.
You know that scene in the original Star Wars where Luke ventures into the interplanetary bar and there’s a startling cross-section of people from every walk of life? W. A. Frost is like that, if by every walk of life you mean every walk of life in which people send and receive thank-you notes. It’s a genteel place, with well-mannered people of every stripe enjoying chef Wyatt Evans’s beautifully local dishes. For a casual dinner, try the lamb burger with its cucumber-yogurt sauce; more inquisitive diners will beeline for specials like local Singerhouse Farm rabbit-confit risotto with tomato marmalade and Keewaydin Farms spinach. Frost is also a sleeper of a vegetarian powerhouse: How do you like the sound of English pea risotto, accented with smoked paprika and vanilla, or pastry-wrapped tofu with Chinese mushrooms, hot-and-sour soup, and a scallion-radish salad? We like the sound so much we might send Frost a thank-you note of our own: Thanks for being as reliable as the sun, and as welcome during a vacation afternoon. —DARA MOSKOWITZ GRUMDAHL