Back when continental cuisine was king, the hottest Twin Cities cafés—the New French, the old Loring—were modeled on those across the pond. We bravely slipped down escargots, learned that Italians don’t say g’not chee, and relished in the Old-World exotic.
The rise of the local-food movement has shifted regional fare back into fashion, and along with it arrives Lake & Irving, named for its location: an Uptown corner already home to the European-inspired Barbette and Amore Victoria. The new arrival debuts the Minnesota-raised Ikeda brothers, who spent time cooking in Napa Valley and Hawaii.
These days, a casual, new American concept obliges an array of craft-beer taps, a killer burger, and the influence of the modern, multicultural era. Lake & Irving offers all those things, with wine on tap to boot. Southern-style fried chicken on the menu at a place like this means the bird is sustainably sourced and encased in a delicate, crispy shell. Here it’s served as a sandwich (on Patisserie 46 sourdough, with heritage bacon) or, for brunch, with a Belgian waffle and bitter beer syrup.
The restaurant’s ambiance lacks the personality of a great date spot, and the vibe doesn’t lend itself to tucking into a formal entrée, be it crab-crusted snapper or a New York strip. Lake & Irving is more of a light-bite, bar-snack joint, and, fortunately, its small plates are terrific. The smoked walleye rillettes are excellent, as is the furikake chicken, which shows the brothers’ West Coast and Pacific influence, with its sweet soy glaze and the umami-rich Japanese seasoning. We’ll work on our pronunciation.
1513 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-354-2453, lakeandirving.com