As a countdown to the Best of the Twin Cities 2014, coming April 16, the Hot Dish is serving up 100 of our favorite local dishes.
When we visited Lake & Irving, these mushroom fries were the first thing that caught our eye, based on their vague description alone. Would they be the heavy-breaded button mushrooms you get at, say, a bowling alley? Or would they be some bizarre, crisped-and-dehydrated creation, more akin to one of those Jessica Seinfeld, get your kids to eat their vegetables types of dishes? We ordered and waited patiently to see which of the polar opposites might be delivered and to our surprise and delight, it was neither.
Instead these slices of woodsy, meaty Portobello mushrooms are covered in the kind of light batter that just barely clings to them, like bubbles on the side of a champagne glass. The fry is perfect -- delicate, well-drained, and seasoned immediately and respectfully. But any good fried appetizer, no matter how "elevated", needs a dip to really make it whole. That's why chef de cuisine Andrew Ikeda made a beautiful taupe-colored aioli to go with the mushrooms, flavored with pungent black garlic and something faintly spicy. It's the perfect mate for this elegant starter.