A new restaurant proves that a thematic approach and good food aren’t mutually exclusive
BY JAMES NORTON
AMONG THOSE WHO LOVE FOOD, theme restaurants inspire fear, with good reason. When the staff is obsessed with tending to the needs of animatronic monkeys, food tends to take a back seat.
First-time visitors to Alaska Eatery in St. Louis Park may, therefore, be put off by the restaurant’s taxidermy tableau-best described as “Giant Caribou vs. Giant Moose”-its grand fireplace (which actually works!), and the panoramic photo of majestic Alaskan mountains.
But don’t fret. Alaska Eatery is owned by Taher, the local foodservice company whose debut restaurant, Wayzata Eatery, has garnered rave reviews. Order the Alaskan king crab, and while you wait, consider the rest of the menu. A wood-fire grilled pork chop stuffed with smoked Gouda, bacon, and apple. Trout, char, or halibut, among others, served with your choice of sauce, from hollandaise to red-pepper coulis with basil. All these dishes are good, sure. But when in Alaska, stick with the crab.
When the pile of claws arrives, take a second to enjoy the presentation before dipping a bit of meat into the accompanying pitcher of drawn butter. The crab is surprisingly sweet, right? More tender than lobster, and graced by a note of wood-fired smokiness.
Try to pace yourself. There’s dessert to consider. It’s $10, which is expensive, but it’s the best baked Alaska in town: a meringue-coated, baseball-sized confection containing layers of frozen gelato stacked on a flourless chocolate cake. The orb will be engulfed in a sheath of blue flame when it hits your table, but resist the urge to blow it out immediately; the more the exterior tastes like burnt marshmallows, the more it plays off the flavors of the raspberry gelato and dense chocolate cake.
Don’t get distracted by the restaurant’s wilderness theme. The kitchen stays focused on fire-kissed food-and the results are nothing short of delicious.
6501 Wayzata Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-345-0505 » Lunch and dinner daily. $$$ [w]
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