Bread & Pickle upgrades concessions at Lake Harriet

Barbette executive chef created the menu

Another one of Bread & Pickle's vegetarian options, the black bean burger, is a mass-produced product from Morningstar Farms—a fact that might raise locavore hackles. But the kitchen serves some 400 patties a week, and Kathman says he didn't want to risk inconsistency with a house-made burger. Putting aside commercial or artisan origins and focusing solely on taste, it's a decision that can't be argued with, as the robust, smoky-tasting Morningstar black bean burger outshines the ho-hum handmade spinach-walnut patty served over at Gigi's.

Bread & Pickle's burger may be the item most negatively affected by the eatery's logistical constraints. Because the patties come pre-formed from the meat processor, they lack the tender fluffiness of burgers shaped on-site. On the plus side, the burger's grass-fed beef is sourced from a family-run Wisconsin farm and slathered in Kathman's "special sauce," an addictive riff on Thousand Island dressing.

Bread & Pickle's deep-fried cheese curds are served in a more modest portion and at a higher price than, say, those at the Minnesota State Fair—probably not the worst thing for keeping waistlines in check. But the cheese, which by itself retails at local co-ops for around $10 a pound, is worth the extra price. The curds are made with organic milk from Wisconsin's Castle Rock Dairy, and their gooeyness makes a lovely contrast to their crisp tempura shells.

Alma Guzman for City Pages
Alma Guzman

Location Info

Map

Bread & Pickle

4135 W. Lake Harriet Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Southwest Minneapolis

Details

Bread & Pickle
Lake Harriet Refectory; 4135 W. Lake Harriet Parkway, Minneapolis; 612.767.9009
Items $1-$9

The trouble with serving American fare, Kathman admits, is that most diners grew up eating the stuff and have developed a preference for familiarity. Guilty as charged: Comparing Bread & Pickle's egg salad to my mother's, I found it dry and under-seasoned. I wanted more mayonnaise and salt, or fresh dill, mustard, and celery—something to distinguish it more from its bits of plain egg white and crumbly yolk. The potato salad seemed similarly bland, lacking both textural contrast and richness. But the Kathman lineage may simply take a lighter approach to cooking than the Huttons do (and may very well have lower blood pressure and risk of heart attack as a result).

Straightforward, basic fare can be satisfying in its simplicity, but sometimes, as with a few Bread & Pickle sandwiches, it feels too plain. For example, the ham and cheese sandwich is just that: thick slices of ham, cheese, and yellow mustard between two slices of sourdough bread. It tasted fine—certainly better than the waterlogged stuff that comes out of Oscar Mayer's plastic packs. But it seemed like a sandwich that had been slapped together at home, without any of the extra flourishes that might indicate it was conceived by a chef and served at a restaurant. Same story with Bread & Pickle's turkey sandwich, which is made with sliced roasted turkey, shredded iceberg, a middling tomato, and herbed mayonnaise on multigrain. I had hoped for a little extra flavor complexity—maybe a squirt of spicy mustard or a scoop of cranberry chutney—to make it feel more special.

Bread & Pickle's chicken salad, liberally studded with fresh tarragon, made a solid foundation for a sandwich, but lacking any sort of garnish, it was overwhelmed by its New French Bakery ciabatta bun. After a few bites, I took the rest of the sandwich home and toasted the bread, added more mayonnaise, layered on a lettuce leaf, sliced tomato, and a few pickled dilly beans. Call me Dagwood, but without such accessories it seemed incomplete.

Bread & Pickle faces some stiff competition for lake-goer picnicking dollars right up the street. To keep pace with this year's City Pages Best Sandwich winner, Clancey's butcher shop, Bread & Pickle's most straightforward options might acquire a little more nuance. But despite the eatery's short operational season, Kathman says he plans to modify the menu a couple more times through the rest of the summer and fall and add several more items, such as bratwurst, tossed salads, popsicles, cheese steaks, breakfast burritos, and beignets, all of which sounds promising.

Kim Bartmann wouldn't have become a successful restaurateur without being committed to tweaking operations to better satisfy customers. For Bread & Pickle that might mean adding daily specials or putting buckets of rocks on the tables to keep napkins from blowing—whatever it takes. "We want to make it into the best thing that ever happened in a public park," Bartmann says.

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4 comments
fkaJames
fkaJames

Like other commenters, we have been underwhelmed as well. The most interesting thing offered is the addition of truffle salt to popcorn - not exactly revolutionary. The rest of the food is about 20% overpriced and 100% unremarkable. We'll continue bringing our own picnic food to Lake Harriet for our weekly picnics there.

Edit: also, "the best thing that ever happened in a public park," really? Because it isn't even the best food in a public park within a 1 mile radius - that would be Tin Fish. Or the best food in any Minneapolis park - that would be Sea Salt in our home park at Minnehaha Falls. And I would venture that the best thing that ever happened at Lake Harriet was the building of the bandshell.

minneap
minneap

this was hardly anything to write about. the black bean burger was fair to poor. lettuce/tomato...same as like getting a burger at the old metrodome. fries were ok. friend ate separate meal and was really not impressed. pack a picnic and save your money for a place in south minneapolis that is worth $10.

Lutefiskmn
Lutefiskmn

Meh. The mister and I stopped in the other evening, and both of us thought it was nothing more than "fine".

Ben
Ben

Do they serve beer like Tin Fish and Sea Salt do?

 
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