Just like the neighborhood it occupies, the new East Town restaurant McKinney Roe is full of dichotomies.
East Town, in case you haven’t been to the east end of downtown Minneapolis in the last 15 minutes, is the neighborhood that’s been manufactured around U.S. Bank Stadium. It feels shiny and new, but also hollow and cold. It’s polished to be sure, but you can’t buy character.
McKinney Roe feels similar.
Much has already been made of the bi-level beauty of a space. But it doesn’t take much imagination to feel like you’re sitting in an airport restaurant, a place designed to appease the many, then get them on their way.
Still, staff are as friendly and eager as at any soulful indie spot, so kudos is in order for the hospitality here. And, while the menu reads like a what’s-what of every American classic that’s ever fed any bachelor party, BBQ, or airport bar, the result on the plate was pleasantly surprising.
Burgers, wings, pork belly sliders, the BLT, the grilled chicken club, the center-cut ribeye. The full canon is here, and there are few if any surprises. If you’ve got something out of the ordinary in mind, this is not your place.
Still, tuna poke was prettily presented and tasted fresh; mac-and-cheese bites accomplished their junky endeavor; the crazy “Big Stag Burger” with two quarter-pound CAB (certified angus beef) burgers, white American cheese, sliced dill pickles, maple peppered bacon, caramelized onions, frizzled onions, and dijon aioli on a pretzel roll was the jaw-unhinging triumph it should have been. Even a bacon & blu chopped salad was thoughtfully prepared and not overwrought.
If you dine here, do yourself a favor and snag one of the “beehives,” little half-booths with scaffolding above that creates a pergola effect. It gives the illusion of intimacy in the cavernous space.
Prices are about what you’d expect: the $15 burger, the $39 steak, the $12 salad. This is, after all, a restaurant housed in the base of one of the looming Wells Fargo buildings and in the shadow of the U.S. Bank Stadium. But chances are if you’re dining here, cash isn’t a big question and if you want a big ass steak after a big win (or big loss, more likely) then here it is.
The full bar is comprehensive, though they don’t seem to be pushing craft cocktails or a hundred local beer handles here. Despite a comprehensive wine list there was only a smattering of basic selections by the glass.
In short, McKinney Roe is exactly what you’d expect, nothing you wouldn’t, and if the Vikes have weakened your heart for surprises, this is just the place.
530 4th St., Minneapolis