It doesn't get any better than late July and August in Minnesota. The summers are usually perfect in not being too hot or too high of a dewpoint. Plus, the bugs disappear.
So as not to lose out dockside eateries are the favored way to eat. I've been to four different places on Lake Minnetonka this summer and all are within a couple of miles from home. We used to boat to them but we sold our boat after getting an RV. We did kayak once to one but most we can just walk to.
The first is on the Lake Minnetonka Regional LRT Bike Trail that I often Nordic walk on. It is the Bayside Grille
in Excelsior, MN. Excelsior is a small community of 2,400 people on Excelsior Bay. A little secret. If you know your history of Excelsior founded in 1853 you know that is really where Garrison Kiellor probably got his inspiration for Prairie Home Companion
and Lake Wobegon.
This is the dockside wharf with the restored streetcar steamboat, The Minnehaha, docked in the background. The Minnehaha used to pick up streetcar passengers in Excelsior and ferry them around the lake to large hotels and Big Island where there was an amusement park. The boat was deliberately sunk in 1926 to dispose of it, was salvaged in the 1980s, restored and put back in service in 1996. Excelsior also has a rail streetcar that travels from a town museum to the Bayside Grille about 5 blocks.
Dockside food generally is bar type food and often a more limited menu than what you can order if you sit inside the adjacent restaurant. Lighter fare such as this Walleye Wrap
is typical of the Bayside Grille. Lord Fletcher's Old Lake Lodge
is north of our house in Spring Park
. Lord Fletcher's has an upscale entree restaurant, and indoor casual restaurant and a huge wharf. So you can pick and choose what you desire. On Monday during the summer they have a special called Manic Monday
where they set up a grill on the wharf and sell full half-pound hamburgers for $4, cheeseburgers for $5 and Miller bottled beer for $1.75. Anything else you can order through a waitress but the burgers are had by going through a line, pay your money upfront, grab a color coded basket for cheeseburger or hamburger, get the burger from a server and then add your own condiments of lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. The place is incredibly packed so when you get there you have to cruise the dock and wait for someone to finish. People watching is great. Boat watching is even better. There is a small island that creates a channel next to the dock that has slips. So boats constantly cruise around and around in a parade until a slip opens up. Reminds me of back to the 50s when cars used to cruise around and around at the drive-ins.
Lord Fletcher's dock
Here is a Lord Fletcher's Manic Monday cheeseburger.
The next place is back in Excelsior right next door to the Bayside Grille. The place is Maynard's
. Maynard's is the closest to a TGIFridays kind of place to give it a description. Again, outside the menu is more limited to burgers, salads and sides. They serve the burgers in a basket similar to Lord Fletcher's but they have ample offerings of salads as well. This is their grilled chicken salad.
The last place visited recently is right in my hometown of Tonka Bay
and even smaller community of 1,400 adjacent to Excelsior. We actually have three restaurants in Hazellewood Grill & Tap Room, Joey Nova's New York Style Pizzeria and Deli
and The Caribbean
. The Caribbean is part of a boat marina on Lake Minnetonka. It is hidden away in an eclectic residential area of million dollar homes on the lake and small former summer cottages now full-time residences intermixed together. The Caribbean was closed for several years but re-opened last year on weekends only during the summer boating season. This year they are open 7 days per week starting at 5 PM during the week and noon on weekends. The menu is pretty much limited to bar food that you can eat with your hands and is served in a basket. There is no silver ware. Again, the half-pound hamburger is the norm.
Sitting on the dock watching the boats come in. They will serve you on the boat. A boat boy is on duty to assist in tying up which is typical of all the establishments.
The dock is considerably smaller than the other places.
The menu is simple and comes on this placard.
The burger in the basket.
The Fish & Chips
turned out to be a very generous serving.
This is not gourmet food by any means from any of these places. What you get is a great summer evening outdoors with great people and boat watching. In Minnesota you have a short window to take advantage of that. There are a few other places around the 14,000 acre, 114 miles of shoreline lake but these four I can walk to or kayak to with ease.
<message edited by Davydd on Fri, 08/6/10 4:34 PM>