I’ve been meaning to eat at Lyn 65 for some time now. Things in its favour: being located in Richfield, it’s a bit closer to us than restaurants in Minneapolis or St. Paul proper; the prices are quite a bit lower than at the big names in the aforementioned cities; and it’s not hard to get reservations. Thing that kept us from going: the menu never particularly grabbed our fancy. However, a few weeks ago I ended up there for dinner with a few friends after an event. It was an enjoyable enough meal. And though I wasn’t planning to write it up, I had my cellphone camera on hand and decided to go for it. Herewith some details.
First of all, I should mention that this is the restaurant I alluded to in my complaint in my recent review of dinner at Alma. The complaint, I quickly clarify, was aimed at Alma. There we were kept waiting in the bar for 25 minutes for a reserved table and during that time no one checked in on us and we were not offered a drink. At Lyn 65—an altogether less ambitious restaurant—we’d been waiting only about 10 minutes before they pressed glasses of bubbly into our five pairs of hands. And this despite the fact that we were in fact early for our table! That’s the way to do it, people.
What was the food like once we sat down? On the chance that you don’t know much about Lyn 65, they do a mostly small plates’y kind of thing with a few larger dishes plus a few pizza options thrown in. It’s in that reconstructed American vernacular genre that has places like Chicago’s The Publican at its head—and locally places like The Butcher and the Boar and Revival (neither of which we’ve been to—the former on account of its overwhelming meat focus, and the latter on account of the whole “no reservations” thing). If you’re looking for a less expensive version of that kind of thing with less hassle involved in getting a table, then Lyn 65 may be for you.
What did we eat?
We got a bunch of small plates to start, then added on an order of fried chicken, and, to be safe, a pizza.
- Charcuterie: The selection apparently rotates; on the whole, I it found just about whelming. I’m a little tired of charcuterie plates frankly, but it’s a good thing to get when five people are sharing.
- Tartare: A healthy portion served with arugula salad, grana padano and toast. The dressing was too acidic and made it hard to get much of the beef flavour.
- Oven Roasted Cauliflower: This was very good. Very nicely roasted cauliflower with curry powder, sitting on a raita base. I’m usually resistant to Indian-flavoured dishes at places like this but this was done nicely.
- Roasted Delicata Squash: But the roasted squash may have been even better. And it was paired nicely with blue cheese, sage and crisp strips of apple.
- P.E.I Mussels: The mussels themselves were unremarkable but I quite liked the green chorizo sauce they sat on.
- Chicken Wings: We got them with the Togarashi dry rub and they were really rather good.
- Fried Chicken: We got the 12 piece and while the chicken was fried perfectly, it comes as a bit of a blank slate with a trio of hot sauces. The inevitable Korean bbq sauce was interesting but, on the whole, this left most of us a bit cold.
- Duck fat french fries with hollandaise: We got this as a side to go with the fried chicken. Nicely done.
- Italian lamb sausage pizza: The toppings (which include fennel, mint, tomato and pecorino) were very tasty but the crust was a little too spongy for my liking, even taking into account that their pizza is in the Neapolitan style.
- We had not saved room for dessert but like great greedy guts we all said yes to offers of their complimentary soft serve ice cream. And we enjoyed it fine.
For pictures of the restaurant, the food, and the cocktails, please launch the slideshow. Please scroll down for comments on the drinks and service (less positive) and on the question of value.
The cocktails, as I indicated above, were nothing great: ranging from the blah to the bad. Alas, in the bad category was my “65 Rye”. You’d think the signature cocktail named for the restaurant would be very good but this concoction of Old Overholt rye, port reduction, amaro and chocolate bitters ended up tasting mostly like cherry-flavoured cough syrup. Those who got their Manhattans were not overly impressed either and mostly switched to beer (of which they have a very good selection on tap and by the bottle).
As for service, beyond the gracious complimentary sparkling wine while we waited, it ranged from the well-meaning but over-familiar to the farcical (a highlight was our server not knowing what bourbon was used in the Manhattan but assuring us it was “a very expensive bourbon, not a cheap $12 bottle”; also, after encouraging us to get the charcuterie platter he didn’t actually know what was on it and had to get someone else to explain). But it’s a casual place—really, it’s a neighborhood restaurant—and these shortcomings can be overlooked. The price certainly is pretty good. We drank a fair bit and I think with tax and tip, and having over-eaten, we were probably at about $50/head. Not cheap in the abstract but you could do it for a fair bit less.
On the whole, I’d recommend Lyn 65. Not as a special occasion restaurant, and not if you’re looking for high octane cooking, but as a casual, unpretentious place to go to with a group of friends. And if you go, please leave some time to gape at the store-front of the Magic Water Center/Alkaline Living Community store next door.
Next up on the food front: the last of my Indian food reports from London. And next week I’ll have a review of a Thai restaurant in Minneapolis.