Edit ModuleShow Tags

DeRushaEats: Icehouse and the Importance of Service


Published:

Photo by Jason DeRusha

Icehouse is a restaurant that outside of it’s beautiful design, never really excited me. I’m not sure why—I absolutely love Be’wiched Deli, and the same team runs Icehouse. I guess I felt like if I needed lunch, I’d just go to Be’wiched, and if I’m looking for dinner—well, the menu just didn’t thrill me.

But a couple weeks ago, my parents took my kids, so my wife and I had a week where we went to dinner every night. And while I had amazing meals at The Sample Room and Lucia’s, and good stuff at Sunstreet Bread’s Monday night pizza night, it was the meal at Icehouse that keeps coming back to me.

The food was perfect: a side of brussel sprouts made with sherry and smoked garlic that made it almost taste like there was bacon in the dish; a broiled shrimp dish that had flavors of paprika and zucchini and marinated tomatoes that danced across the tongue; a sautéed squid salad served with fennel and watermelon and just enough spicy chiles.

Icehouse-minneapolis-brussels-sprouts

Icehouse's brussel sprouts. Photo by Jason DeRusha

But the service is what really impressed me. I told Chef/Owner Matt Bickford and managing partner Matthew Anderson that our server was one of the best we had in a year. Mandy Lee is her name—her only sharp edge tableside was her Mohawk. Her service was so warm, friendly, and knowledgeable—it really made the meal.

So what was Mandy doing that made it so perfect? It’s hard to describe. She guided us through the super-fun $5 sipping shots, pointing out her favorites, but also suggesting flavors that would go with the food we ordered (don’t miss the Red Star carbonated negroni or the For His Majesty – a sazerac with black pepper gin and a hint of pine smoke in the glass).

She perfectly paced the meal, she knew when to linger and visit, and knew when to let us enjoy the patio seating and each other’s company.

Anderson wasn't with Icehouse at the beginning, and his job at first, was to change the service dynamic.

"We started out when I got there with a focus on hospitality rather than just service," he said.

"It was not a flip of a switch by any means," Anderson told me today. "It takes each manager and each person working to want to be in a position of taking that responsibility.  It's about being the type of person that's genuinely interested in the guest that's sitting at the table and making sure they feel good about what's happening to them at the table."

My number one beef with restaurants in this town isn’t about the quality of the food—it’s about the service. In fact, there’s one restaurant I visited that week where the food was excellent, the service was awful, and I won’t likely be back.

"If you trust the people caring for you, you get to focus on the person(s) you're with.  I want you to trust me to make sure you're well cared for and have an amazing experience," said Anderson.

He's exactly right. And that's why you should get over to Icehouse soon. Ask to sit in Mandy's section.

Icehouse
2528 Nicollet Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
612-276-6523 icehousempls.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rfischer@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

A Stillwater Favorite for Good Reason

LoLo Stillwater's incredible cocktails and fantastic food have this restaurant expanding to Hudson and the MSP Airport

Force blooming spring at Sandcastle, Hola Arepa, and Solo Vino

It's spring, gosh darn it, and we're going to eat like it's sunny at Sandcastle, Hola Arepa, and Solo Vino

Hasselback Potatoes with Watercress and Watercress Sauce Recipe

Crunchy outside yet tender within, the popular potato and salad come together in one beautiful dish

Jimmie's Old Southern Smokehouse Is Already A Hit

Dave Anderson knows BBQ. Can he hit the perfect smoke ring in a restaurant that isn't yet "Famous"?

Three Events Worth Every Penny

With the cost of events so high, food critic Joy Summers asks: What's worth the price of admission?

Grilled Ham, Onion and Cheddar Sandwiches Recipe

Ramp up the easy and ever-popular toasty sandwich with just a few extra touches

Spicy Pan-Seared Beef with Bell Peppers and Onions Recipe

Skip the takeout and spice things up at home with Korean beef or try it with chicken

This Week, We're Drinking

Stopping by the bars at Bellecour, Spoon and Stable, and Grandview Lodge

Not quite bottles: Vinebox delivers three of them

Mail-order wine from Vinebox: price, quantity, and taste.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags