Taters Topped

The last time I was at Bill’s Gun Shop and Firing Range in Robbinsdale I was on a date with my wife, unloading a 9mm shotgun at a picture of Osama bin Laden. So when I heard that John Monson, the guy who owns Bill’s, had opened a restaurant right next door, how could I resist? I told my wife we were going to relive our early courting days in Robbinsdale. I also was intensely curious about their “totchos”—Tater Tots topped like nachos. Really?

The Lodge of Robbinsdale is located in a suburban strip mall, but it looks and feels like an up-north bar. For starters, the specialty cocktails are cheap and strong: the Tommy Gun, a mix of Coke, sweet and sour, Jim Beam Red Stag, rum, vodka, and gin, comes in a 12-ounce glass—but sadly lacks a taxicab voucher. The Lodge isn’t going to win any culinary awards, but the food is solid and in some spots, surprisingly good. The Bullfighter salad was fantastic: The tenderloin steak was perfectly grilled—nice and pink on the inside—on top of really fresh spinach. The salad was very lightly dressed with a smoky ranch dressing, letting the flavors of the blue cheese and red pepper pop through.

The chicken penne pasta also stood out—its spinach and oven-dried tomatoes worked well. Skip the jumbo-shrimp dinner. Calling those six hand-breaded fried shrimp jumbo is a stretch. And while I liked the barbecue sauce on the pulled-pork sandwich, it got lost on top of an oversized pile of mediocre coleslaw.

Finally, it was totcho time. Did we want the “Sicilian” totchos, with marinara, sausage, and mozzarella? Or the “Philly” totchos topped like a cheesesteak? We went with John’s Totchos (I mean, the guy owns a gun shop—you better order his namesake), and while it needed more of the flavorful ground beef, the crispy tots held their own under the melted American cheese and chopped jalapeños. I hate that I now love something called totchos.

The Lodge wasn’t as romantic as a night spent wearing eye and ear protection while squeezing off rounds of ammunition. But if you want to dazzle your date with Tater Tots locked and loaded with deadly force, it’s the best date in town.

The Lodge of Robbinsdale, 4080 W. Broadway Ave., Robbinsdale, 763-951-3943, thelodgerb.com