Icehouse is very cool

The new Eat Street food-and-music venue pulls off small plates in a big way

To go with your many cocktails, Icehouse offers a bar/late-night menu that includes sloppy nachos of fried corn tortillas with pico de gallo, guacamole, and thick strips of brisket; crusted, lovely mini-meatballs in a cheesy sauce (my ideal bar food); and Bill's Electric Beans, one of Roads's overlooked favorites, which he describes as a "spicy, Midwestern version of a cassoulet with our house-made sausage and chiles." Our chosen spicy kick came in the form of the dry-rubbed chicken wings, served with crescents of crunchy pickled celery and craggy little hunks of blue cheese. At a heat level of two (out of three), they were tear-inducing. I applaud the boldness, but I feel the need to make a public service announcement for those who like to have an appetizer and still be able to taste their entree.

One of my favorite things about the small-plate concept at Icehouse is that it extends all the way into the dessert menu, where just a few bites of something sweet to end your meal is more than enough. We loved the simple rhubarb crisp flavored with vanilla and rose, and the just-so-sized bourbon and bacon sundae with homemade ice cream. But Roads says his main focus is on the fruit pies. "I love to work with the seasonal ingredients and really show people how good they are when they aren't messed with too much. I want all the desserts to be familiar but really well executed." It's a guiding principle that results in his fabulous crumble-topped blueberry pie simply bursting with unmanipulated fruit and served with pale, golden, not-too-sweet sweet corn ice cream.  One bit of advice he did take: "Steven Brown from Tilia came in to eat one night and was so complimentary about everything, but Matt kept prodding him for constructive criticism. Finally he was like, 'You should add cinnamon to the rice pudding. That's how my mom made it.' Needless to say, I added it. Like, immediately."

Ben Lansky

Location Info

Map

Icehouse

2528 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

Details

Menu items $5-$18

Bickford's vision certainly seems like it's been realized. He and his band of merry Twin Cities scenesters have created a hip, fun, Frankenstein's monster of a bar/club/deli/diner/restaurant with carefully prepared, approachable food, loads of ambiance, and cocktails to draw a crowd, no matter the time of day. Put it on your short list for an awesome first-date spot.

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