This restaurant has had an interesting journey: Opened in 2015 by Ryan Burnet (Barrio, Bar La Grassa), it became the brief home of chef Remy Pettus—before he really soared at his own spot, Bardo—and chef Nick Dugan, who was the opening chef at Bellecour. Unfortunately, its location on Washington Avenue has been under massive construction for almost its whole run, until chef Jamie Malone and her team from Grand Cafe took over the operation in October of last year.
I’m talking about Eastside. For whatever reason, it didn’t get a rebrand or a relaunch, nor did it ever close down between regimes. But it has transformed—and after eating through many menu highlights, I want to dispel a rumor: You do not need to bring a group of six or eight people to enjoy Eastside. You can even go by yourself.
I spent almost a year avoiding the place, trying to put together a group of people I thought would enjoy the cooking of chef Ryan Cook. I always liked Cook’s work at Sea Change and knew I’d love his food at Eastside. But the place had been marketed as sort of a food party: bring your friends, share, and enjoy. And they do have plenty of sharable entrées—the 36-ounce smoked ribeye arrives in a cake plate filled with smoke.
It is glorious: $130 includes your choice of lobster spaghetti or lobster Thermidor with pot-roast carrots. There’s plenty for six here, even though the menu says it serves two to four.
But there’s also one of the best burgers in town, a double smash burger listed as a “side” on the menu for $14. I support sharing a burger, so calling it a side works for me.
Don’t miss the lobster fries, which are one of the most hilariously decadent menu items in town. Lobster Thermidor (which is a creamy, poutine-like mixture of lobster, egg yolks, brands, stuffed into a lobster shell, served with a browned cheesy crust) is so craveable, I can’t wait to go back for it again ($30).
You’ll laugh at the little smokies, a cocktail wiener dish that takes you back to tailgating, for $8. Why is Ryan Cook serving cocktail wieners? Because they’re good. And fun.
The showpiece is Eastside’s version of the seafood tower that we’re seeing at many high-end restaurants right now. This tower comes deconstructed, in little platters laid out on the table. You’ll get a shrimp cocktail, skewered mussels in a curry sauce, crab topped with caviar, scallop crudo, and lobster with a charred onion in onion broth. It’s spectacular—and, at $26 per person, worth going for.
So, what do I want you to know about Eastside? It’s approachable. It’s fantastic. It’s built for a party of one or a party of a dozen. It’s time to visit.
4-6 p.m. (daily happy hour)
305 Washington Ave. S, Minneapolis