Tastes Like Now

Likable new Tryg's redefines comfort food--and brunch!--for the west metro

3118 W. Lake St., Minneapolis

Once upon a time, and a long, long time ago it was, the pretty little wives in the happy, prosperous, but never ever ostentatious Tudor homes back behind the city lakes, these wives would, once, and once a year only, have a birthday. Consequently their husbands would have the boy at the garage polish the car, a car that was made with tons and tons of actual steel, a car that might even have little fins on the back, like a shark, if you can even imagine such a thing, and that husband would go and get that wife and take her to Nora's, a supper club halfway between Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles. There, the happy couple would meet another happy couple, and they would all eat steaks and walleye and salads with French dressing, and they would drink lots and lots of martinis, and the ladies' pearls would glow as if saturated by moonlight, in the warm, smoky supper club, which was as richly dark as a night on a Norwegian cruise.

Then, eons passed. Eons.

Chef Philip Dorwart and pastry chef Sun Cowles get things exactly, precisely right at Minneapolis's Tryg's
Craig Lassig
Chef Philip Dorwart and pastry chef Sun Cowles get things exactly, precisely right at Minneapolis's Tryg's

Location Info



3118 W. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55416

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Golden Valley

Alice Waters was born, Julia Child died, the refrigerators got computer sensors and learned to crush their own ice, and suddenly all the dads at peewee hockey got cell phones so they could reschedule racquetball in case the wife's nonstop from Tokyo got delayed...and so the bulldozers came and knocked Nora's down.

Two months ago, in its place, Tryg Truelson, son of Nora Truelson, opened Tryg's. Walk in the door and everything looks sort of Flintstones-future-ski-lodge, with lots of rough-hewn limestone, polished copper, and tufts of grasses sprouting from the tops of half-walls separating rows of tables. Look to the menu, and you find two sorts of dishes: old-fashioned American classics, and new-fashioned American classics. On the old-fashioned side of things we have onion soup and meatloaf, prepared the way we like them now, made out of first-quality materials from local farms. On the new-fashioned side, we've got all the things people really want to see when they go out to dinner lately, like feather-light calamari and ruby-red grilled ahi tuna.

Look up at the servers, when they bring your martini, if you want one, or your Central Coast Pinot Noir by the glass, which is more likely your bag nowadays, since your doctor and Elle magazine both recommended it, and you will find the same nice, friendly, eager-to-please sort of crew that was there in the Nora's days, except now none of them have cat's-eye glasses on golden chains and call you sweetheart. Or at least, none of them did that I saw.

In fact, on a trio of recent visits to Tryg's, I was almost capsized with the strangest feeling of déjà vu, not so much of something already experienced, but more of something restored to the exact point in the universe where it's supposed to be. Tryg's is exactly the restaurant that needs to be in that exact spot on the prosperous, but never ostentatious, family-oriented strip on the city's...well, not gold coast, because that would be the eastern shores of the lakes, right? And not silver coast, because that sounds old. Platinum coast is just silly. Cashmere coast? Burberry coast? Volkswagen coast? Something in there. Let's call it the perfect restaurant for Minnesota's own Volkswagens, warm mittens, and peonies-in-June west coast.

Unless you're a food snob in hot pursuit of the outer limits of avant-garde cooking, I can almost guarantee that you will like every single thing on Tryg's menu. The panko-fried calamari ($9) is served in a playful paper cone. Each little squiddy bit is a crunchy little cloud, made decadent if you sop it through the icing-rich pool of accompanying aioli, jazzed up with salty green lucque olives and lemon thyme. The roasted beet salad ($8) is a charming version, with both red and deep orange beets roasted for maximum flavor concentration, and served as brilliant wedges on a generous bed of arugula next to snowy planks of Humboldt Fog goat cheese and crispy little bits of bacon. The onion soup ($7) is one of the best versions in town, the rich caramelized onion broth not at all too salty--a miracle! In fact, it's winey and deep, the fat sourdough crouton up top bursting with a rich, meaty intensity, created by good-quality Gruyère. In fact, my only quibble with any of the starters I tried was that the artichoke ($8), served trimmed and roasted on a large glass platter, would be nicer if there was some way to keep it hot.

The comforts keep coming with the entrées. A sweet, nicely weighty veal meatloaf ($14) is served as an open-face sandwich crowned with a clever variation on ketchup, a dense calamata olive and stewed tomato concoction that looks restaurant-fancy, but tastes Toll House Cookie-comfortable. A rotisserie Long Island duck ($22) will probably be better once they find a local source for the bird: The rare duck breast was nearly flavorless, but the stewed leg of the bird was truly great, spicy in the way that a racy pumpkin pie is spicy, sweet, rich, and fragrant.

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