Fika: Longfellow Grill

Photo Courtesy of Longfellowgrill.com
Photo Courtesy of Longfellowgrill.com

Prelude

For those nature lovers, an early afternoon dinner followed by a late afternoon walk along the Mississippi river is what makes South Minneapolis, and Minneapolis in general, so special. The founders of the Falls of St. Anthony had a vision and intuitively, they truly knew that Minneapolis would become that special place.

On the corner of East Lake Street and the West River Parkway, Longfellow Grill is a local, South Minneapolis “urban diner.” And it has an urban feel to it. For example, there is the rush hour traffic on East Lake Street in the middle afternoon; there is the proximity to the local neighborhoods (Longfellow Grill sits adjacent to the West River Commons apartment complex); there is the access to the beautiful and world renown Minneapolis parkway system; and there is the Mississippi river not more than a couple hundred feet away from the restaurant itself.

The Buffalo Burger

My father invited me out for Wednesday dinner. I asked him what he was thinking and he listed off a few places on the south side. One recommendation happened to be the Longfellow Grill. That struck a curious chord. I was in the mood for breakfast, specifically Bridgeman’s (near the Minnehaha Falls). I have always loved diner breakfast. But like I said, I was intrigued by this new place.

I asked him where it was at and what kind of food they served. He replied, “It’s on East Lake Street and the parkway. They serve breakfast and burgers.” So we headed over to East Lake Street.

We arrived in the late afternoon. It was a Wednesday. Afternoon traffic was coming tappering off. Parking was easy to find, especially if you are from the south side. We pulled off on one of the side streets just before the East Lake/Parkway intersection. My father and I both grew up on the south side, so we knew that the side streets in Minneapolis were available, quiet, and free. It was a two minute walk.

As soon as we walked into the restaraunt, we knew it was busy. We had just missed the afternoon Happy Hour rush. I approached the counter. The young ladies who worked there were polite. They took my name and cell number. They asked me if we wanted to sit inside or out in the patio. I told them the patio. They told me it would be about a 20 to 25 minute wait and that they would text me as soon as the table was ready. My father and I were seated at our table on the patio within about 10 minutes.

Photo Courtesy of Urban Dynamics - Bison Burger with seasoned fries and a Bell's Oberon Ale
Photo Courtesy of Urban Dynamics – Bison Burger with seasoned fries and a Bell’s Oberon Ale

The outside patio was very nice, spiffy, and no more than a hop, skip, and a jump from the parkway and river. It was definitely the type of place where a father and son could have a beer together, a group of friends could hang, a group of business men or women could conduct deals over food and drinks, and a young couple could spend their first date.

Our waiter’s name was Andrew. He was a nice guy. Attentive to our needs, he never left us for too long and was always diligent with our questions and needs. For example, when I asked for a recommendation for a summer beer, he suggested Bell’s Oberon Ale, although he also added that the summer beer selection was fairly small. I appreciated the honesty.

I ordered the “Bison Burger.” As the menu stated, the burger consisted of

NorthStar grassfed bison, candied walnuts, craisins, blue cheese, honey aioli, spring mix, [and] herb vinaigrette.

It was a tasty burger. Not one of the best bison burgers I have ever had – Buffalo Tap burgers are fantastic – but it was tasty nonetheless. As a fair rating, it was a middle of the road burger – not the best, but not the worst. But what made it intriguing was the combination of the blue cheese, craisins, walnuts, and other seasonings. That definitely hightened the experience. In addition, the fries were surprisingly good. They were seasoned with a season salt, pepper, and course salt blend. As Andrew explained, it was a company blend.

Final Thoughts

Longfellow Grill is the type of place where a person could go for a burger, beer, and a paper; and it is the type of place for everything in between. But it is also a trendy place; it has that feel, which is why it may not attract some of the more south side traditionalists. I understand and empathize. But it is nonetheless a South Minneapolis business, although it is not a South Minneapolis business in the same vein as A Baker’s Wife or Mel-O-Glaze.

It is a young business owned by David Burley and Stephanie Shimp who both started off as servers here in Minneapolis in the early 1990’s. They also own the Edina Grill, the Highland Grill, and a few other places around the metro area. So they have some experience in this industry and that experience is salient in how the Longfellow Grill is run.

I give Longfellow Grill a 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Author’s notes:

  1. Longfellow Grill is located at 2990 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55406.
  2. My father was not real pleased with his meal. He had the Ham & Cheese Scramble.
  3. 4.0 Star rating out of 162 reviews on Yelp.
  4. 3.6 rating on Google out of 73 Google reviews.
  5. Bridgeman’s (near Minnehaha Falls) is no longer open.

Additional note, you can follow me on Twitter at @SystemsofChaos and you can follow me on Facebook.

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