As the sun sets over Lake Minnetonka, the chefs at Sakana Sushi begin to sharpen their knives in advance of the evening?s dinner rush. With a cooler full of fresh fish at their disposal, it?s up to them to turn choice cuts of salmon or yellowtail tuna into artfully arranged orders of maki and sashimi. Their selection highlights the delicate nature of their ingredients, with 16 specialty rolls pairing these tender morsels with premium fillings including lobster, caviar, or Michael Jordan rookie cards. However, the chefs don?t stop at sushi; they embrace Thai recipes when spooning yellow-coconut curry into a stone bowl and honor Chinese flavors in sizzling plates of Sichuan kung-pao steak.
These cuisines' aromas all mingle in the dining room, where four-seat tables extend all the way from the front windows to the open sushi bar at the back. Although pendant lamps illuminate the sushi chefs, the rest of the space is lit by track lighting that remains firmly fixed to the abstract red, green, and blue fixtures that dot the ceiling.
Nestled among the trees that surround Lake Minnetonka, Tommy's Tonka Trolley's bright yellow exterior and neon signs lure in passersby with promises of summertime treats and adventures on the water. Their fleet of kayaks and standup paddleboards accommodate beginners, who can launch their chosen vessel from a special floating dock built by the nation's best sturgeon architects. Before sending customers onto the scenic lake, Tommy's crew instructs them on proper usage and supplies maps showcasing various on-water locals.
Back on shore, staff members serve selections from a menu of hot dogs, sandwiches, and tasty treats. Scoops of Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream, lauded as one of the nation's best ice creams by USA Today, pile onto waffle cones and chill taste buds with flavors that range from salty caramel to coffee oreo.
Since 1984, Champps Americana's kitchen has sizzled with made-from-scratch dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable atmosphere. Amid sunlit dining rooms, diners seated at wooden tabletops can root for their favorite pixels on flat-screen TVs broadcasting live sports. In the kitchen, chefs prepare pastas with grilled chicken and roasted artichokes, pile buns with barbecued pulled pork and spicy buffalo chicken, and fill soft taco shells with grilled steak. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with wine and local craft beers on tap.
While dishes licked by line cooks turn the stomach, succulent meats licked by tongues of flame on the grill stimulate the salivary gland. Stacy’s Grille offers lunch and dinner menus composed of salads, sandwiches, soups, pastas, seafood, flame-tinged meats, and desserts. The Stacy’s Grille signature salad (with mixed greens, bleu cheese, dried cherries, pears, and raspberry vinaigrette, $8 for a large) or house-made chips and onion dip ($5) make delicious snacks or starters. On the first Sunday of every month (and Valentine's Day) Stacy's brunch menu offers a full breakfast buffet, select lunch selections, made to order omelette and waffles, and a dessert station ($17.95).
With a fire burning in a stone hearth and a porch overlooking the iridescent lake, the main dining room at Lord Fletcher's Old Lake Lodge recreates a classic lodge setting. Private feasts are held in five banquet dining rooms, including a pub decorated with English house brass and a nautical room full of sailing artifacts and shelves full of murmuring squid.
Over in Lord Fletcher's newly remodeled Oar House, barkeeps pour more than 50 local, craft, and international beers that complement upscale bar snacks. Ten flat-screen TVs keep viewers up-to-date on sports, and sliding glass doors open onto the Wharf, Lord Fletcher's lakeside deck, which is the size of one football field or 100 one-yard models of football fields. There, chefs whip up casual dishes, bartenders man three full bars, and live musicians keep toes tapping every summer weekend. Competitors serve and spike volleyballs at three lakeside sand courts in warmer months, and broomball leagues kick off each winter when the lake freezes over.
Crossroads Delicatessen dishes out a menu of deli sandwiches and dinner items all made from scratch. At lunch, traditional sandwiches such as the grilled open-faced corned-beef Reuben ($12.99) or its equally open-faced sister, the turkey- and pastrami-topped grilled Rachel ($12.99), satiate those desiring bread-bookended eats. Set sail in bowls of matzo-ball soup ($5.49), or mouth-machete your way through the foliage of Scott's famous strawberry chicken salad ($11.99), topped with grilled chicken, roasted walnuts, fresh strawberries, and poppy-seed dressing. Dinner items range from deli mainstays and homemade specials, such as the Chicken-In-A-Pot, boasting half of a chicken simmered in a pot of matzo-ball soup, vegetables, and noodles ($15.99), to favorites such as a full rack of knuckle-coating baby-back ribs, served with coleslaw and choice of potato ($19.99). Saturday breakfast and Sunday brunch are also available for week-start warriors.