Like most food people, I’ve been watching the old jP American Bistro space with great interest. Word was it was supposed to hold a new gastropub, the Lyndale Tap House. Big names, like Josh Thoma of La Belle Vie, were attached, and owner Gene Suh was a local boy made good, investing hedge-fund earnings into the community. So when a press release arrived announcing the restaurant’s imminent opening, I Googled its name, wondering if a website would reveal menu details. Instead, a series of scantily clad pinup pictures appeared, girls in lingerie and stripper heels provocatively posed with farm animals—the art on the Lyndale Tap House walls.
Seriously? Seriously. Yegads.
The art is not small, either. One pinup is a 10-foot-by-5-foot mural. I was shocked: Was this a gentleman’s club? What about the children? On my first visit, I was seated in good view of all the pinups. The place was thumpingly loud, and packed wall to wall with twentysomethings clutching both beers and shots, their drinking occasionally interrupted by howls in response to the games broadcast on the many, many televisions.
Photo by Todd Buchanan
I ordered wildly. Gummy maple-glazed pork belly; chili that was a bitter cup of peppers; decent fish and chips (the fries were quite good); a side of virtually raw Brussels sprouts; slow-roasted “pit beef,” the restaurant’s claim to fame, that was so chewy I couldn’t bite through it; and a truly good burger, nicely charred, salty, and flavorful. All around me the “meet market” seethed. When did I get so old and uptight? “Am I turning into Cotton Mather?” I wailed, probably becoming the first person ever to bring up the prominent Puritan famous for his role in the Salem Witch Trials in that bar. “You’re taking it too seriously,” my husband assured me. “There are a lot of sports bars we don’t go to. This will just be one of them.”
On my next visit, I ordered more. This time the pit beef was tender, but strangely lacking in flavor. The Cuban pit-roasted pork and pit-ham sandwich was quite good, meaty and layered with porky flavor. Unfortunately, I was sitting under a large pinup photo, and I couldn’t stop debating why these images would be in a restaurant. All in all, the food isn’t great, but it isn’t bad. The issue really is whether the Lyndale Tap House is a bar where you would feel comfortable. I think my husband’s suggestion was the best advice: “Just tell people that if they’d be comfortable eating dinner with a copy of FHM or Maxim on the table, it’s for them.”
The Lyndale Tap House
2937 Lyndale Ave.S., Mpls., 612-825-6150
Open Monday–Friday 4 p.m.–2 a.m.; Saturday–Sunday 11 a.m.–2 a.m.