January’s “Restaurant Rumble” pits the Downtown cool of Eastside against the Lowertown vibes of Dark Horse. Find out who Jason and Joy will choose.
Eastside: Classic and cool with a relaxed attitude
JD: I wasn’t sure what to expect at Eastside, which isn’t on the east side of the Twin Cities, by the way.
JS: It’s like South St. Paul (or a little girl named North West)—direction is relative. So, this is on the east side of downtown Minneapolis. The bar affords a view of ice skaters at The Depot across Washington.
JD: I sure didn’t expect such incredible service. Even the guys filling our water glasses were making conversation with my two young sons.
JS: Same! Every person we encountered seemed to genuinely care about making sure we were comfortable, our needs were met, and that they hoped to see us again.
JD: Considering his track record with Barrio, Burch, La Grassa, and now, Eastside, Ryan Burnet seems to have the magic touch with restaurants.
JS: And this place has a bit of a Burch vibe—classic, cool, hard surfaces, some gorgeous tile floors, and food that isn’t overwrought.
JD: If I lived in the Latitude 45 building I’d have the side order of fried wild rice for dinner once a week. It’s all I love about a typical Chinese fried rice dish with the added nuttiness of Minnesota wild rice.
JS: And there’s that golden egg yolk to douse the whole dish in lusciousness. My mandatory must-order dish is the super-tender calamari tossed with grapefruit wedges, soy-glazed nuts, and a funky pile of curly endive.
JD: I’d also go back for the red snapper: The texture of the crispy scales, the intense flavor of the chermoula, and the mint yogurt really worked for me.
JS: The kitchen plays really well with sweet and savory. I adored the steak with thin slices of roasted grapes and toasty mushrooms served with the most addictive potato stacks I’ve ever encountered.
JD: And weren’t the sherry cocktails delicious?
JS: It’s one of the things I didn’t expect to love. Sherry seems like an odd spirit for a cocktail base, but they work well here—especially when paired with that steak. This is one of the benefits of having Dan Oskey pen the cocktail list. He really knows how to create a pleasing drink no matter the base. Also, how about that aged rum negroni? Did you know that’s a real drink? Known as a “Man About Town.” Made me think of you.
JD: Ha! Well, this man about town will definitely be back.
When to go: Saturday night to be seen; Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. to get in
Don’t miss dish: Fried wild rice
Where to sit: The sleek booths around the edge of the restaurant
Eastside • 305 Washington Ave. S. MPLS, MN 55415 • (612) 208-1638, eastsidempls.com