Current Restaurant now open at Afton House Inn

As the St. Croix river waters rise, the Afton House Inn's new restaurant name is more apt. The Current is also serving more up-to-date food options than standard bar fare.

Brothers Dan and Dave Jarvis, whose family owns the Inn, have completely renovated the space with doors that open up to the marina and warm-toned wood to create a cozy atmosphere. Their goal is to be accessible no matter the season; bright and breezy in warmer months and cozy in the cooler months. With seasonality in mind, they brought in chef Marc Paavola, a Sea Change and Porter & Frye alumnus, to create a fresh menu with an eye on healthy portions and options. 

On a recent sunny, spring day they invited us for a complimentary lunch to preview their new operation.

Highlights were the appetizers.  The Eichten's cheese fondue is $12, served with charred bread, Granny Smith apple slices, and hunks of tender-cooked, grass-fed beef, and finished with a drizzle of truffle oil.

A $7 side of edamame tossed in a sweet, spicy ponzu sauce spiked with garlic chili paste can be eaten by the bowlful or subbed in for French fries with the burgers and sandwiches.

The fries, by the way, were delicious, drizzled with white truffle oil and Parmesan cheese. The sweet potato fries were also a hit, dusted in cinnamon sugar and just a hint of salt, they tasted almost like fried Mexican churros.

The sandwiches were full of bright flavors, like chicken, brie, and apple served on ciabatta and a bakery will soon be providing the Current with gluten-free bread.  Decidedly less than healthy was their delicious take on a Monte Cristo for $12.  It's egg-battered but then cooked on the flat-top rather than deep fried.  Custard-like and dipped in the accompanying lingonberry sauce, it's a brunch classic done better.

The only item I would avoid ordering is the turkey burger, $12.  A pre-formed dry, flavorless patty was a disappointment, when clearly the kitchen is capable of making something better.

The wine, beer and specialty cocktails make for a great happy hour spot for anyone working in the eastern suburbs.  Dave is a trained sommelier and offers wine, as well as beer by the taste or glass, allowing guests to create their own flights.  Guests also have the option of heading to the attached Swirl wine shop and picking out a bottle to drink at Current for a modest $3 corkage fee. 

Desserts are sophisticated twists on childhood favorites, like a Lollapalooza inspired banana split with spumoni ice cream $6.  The decadent, dark chocolate Black Russian bundt cake is a recipe straight from chef Marc's mom.  A classic fudgy cake soaked in Kahlua, drizzled with creme anglaise and flanked by toffee crunchy hazelnut brittle, $6, it was enough to make a traditional dessert-skipper request the recipe.  They assured us it would be on the website soon.

Mom knows best: bundt cakes rule
Mom knows best: bundt cakes rule
Andy Lien

More is on the docket for the Current.   The owners also soon plan to install a wine-dispensing system using argon gas, similar to the one used at Scusi, which will allow them to have multiple bottles available by the glass while keeping them fresh for weeks. 

A patio spot on the water, a cool glass of cucumber-spiked water, and an array of affordable snacking options should make for a very bright summer.  The Current's grand opening celebration is April 30 from 1 to 5p.m.

Current Restaurant
3291 St. Croix Trail S., Afton
651.436.8883 (The website is now under construction but is expected to be running before the week is out.)

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