It’s spring and the weather is changing right along with the menu. After a long winter, lighter dishes lifted with the flavors of spring are more appetizing than ever. Take a look at how St. Louis Park restaurants welcome spring.
LEMON GINGER SCONE
Honey & Rye
Like spotting the first robins, you know it’s officially spring when the lemon ginger scone returns. The all-butter sweet biscuit is something zesty, zingy and springy all rolled into one. Fresh lemon zest and ginger provide a slight pucker of spicy tartness. A drizzle of lemon icing tames the taste to something terrifically toothsome. The made-from-scratch scone makes a perfect accompaniment to hot Earl Grey tea or granola (go ahead, crumble the scone in). The fresh moist lemon ginger scones sell out most days, so come early to enjoy. “There’s nothing crazy unusual about the scone,” says owner Anne Roach Andrus. “They’re all basic, simple ingredients you’d have in your kitchen at home. It’s just the way the flavors come together and are all so vibrant. It lets the ingredients shine.” $3.50.
WHITE TOP PIZZA
The love affair with pizza only grows fonder during spring. White top pizza is a popular pick year-round but seems especially appropriate now. “It’s a leafy green type of pizza,” says Johnathon Tyler, operating partner. The pizza has a lighter flavor. Rather than traditional red sauce, a creamy cheese sauce goes on the artisanal thin pizza crust. Toppings of mozzarella, applewood bacon, chopped garlic and oregano complement each other into a harmonious whole. A twist on Italian flavors makes the pizza unique and a customer favorite. “You can’t go wrong with bacon,” says Tyler. Fresh feathery arugula greens finish the dish with a peppery vegetal punch. $7.95.
Bunny’s Bar and Grill
By the time spring rolls around, cabin fever-ailing Minnesotans are already dreaming of summer. Seasonal weather angst is enough to make you thirsty for something spirited. Enter the bootlegger cocktail—a concoction of local renown. The refreshing summertime favorite hits the spot in spring, too. Variations of the fizzy, spiked, minty-citrus drink abound. At Bunny’s the bootlegger lives up to its lively reputation. Bold flavors of mint and lime cleverly mask vodka’s kick—all contained in a 10-1/2-ounce highball. $5.75.
SUNNY GUMMIES CANDY
Flower power takes a sweet turn at the Droolin’ Moose. It’s gummy bear candy turned floral and just the thing for spring. Cute as a button flower shapes come in a rainbow of colors. Sunny gummies flavors of lemon, orange, grape, cherry, peach and raspberry are irresistible. A soft texture makes them all too easy to eat (bonus: sunny gummies won’t stick to your teeth). Be warned that what starts out as a gift for someone else can evolve into a treat just for you. “So many people buy for their own cupboards,” says owner Missy Wetstrom. “People come back for the gummies all the time.” 14-ounce cup $6.95.
Mill Valley Kitchen
Ah, the humble veggie burger—the unsung hero of healthy sandwiches. Redefine your notion of what a veggie burger should be at the Mill Valley Kitchen, where light springy food is the norm. Garden fresh ingredients heighten the earthy flavors in a beet-based burger peppered with red lentils and bulgur, giving it a vibrant burgundy color. Lettuce, tomato and red onion add to the eye candy. Extras of melted cheese, sautéed mushrooms or avocado enhance the spectacle while a multi-grain bun anchors the stack together. Snappy housemade dill pickle chips are state fair prize-winning caliber. More wholesomeness comes from a vinaigrette-tossed mixed green side salad, topped with a sprinkle of cheese. $12; cheese, sautéed mushrooms or avocado $1 each.
HONEY LAVENDER CHEESECAKE
Muddy Paws Cheesecake
Among 222 varieties of world-class cheesecakes, the honey lavender is perfect for the season. While the flowery honey notes are good enough to stand on their own, a blueberry topping adds fruitiness. The cheesecake is slow-baked and lovingly prepared by hand. “We don’t skimp on anything,” says owner Tami Cabrera. The wonderfully subtle blend first appeared at a wedding; the response was so favorable that the flavor was added to the specialty cheesecake roster. Preorders for the honey lavender cheesecake are requested. $40.
YOSAI TOFU UDON
For soup that’s hot, hot, hot yet springy light, try the Yosai tofu udon noodle bowl. Raku’s modern Japanese cuisine takes soup to a new sophisticated level. Expertly trained Japanese chefs prepare the soup in a wok creating a dish that steams all the way to your table and is slow to cool down. The Yosai tofu udon is an authentic Japanese dish filled with fresh tofu chunks, bok choy leaves, carrots and seaweed chiffonade. The portion is as impressive as the flavor. “All the ingredients are fresh, I think that’s what makes the dish,” says Steve Robertson, general manager. $13.
Yum! Kitchen and Bakery
The spring salmon makes a welcome comeback on the seasonal menu this time of year. Lemon glazed salmon with sides of roasted asparagus and potatoes makes an elegantly hearty meal. This made-to- order entrée is all about spring. “Lemon screams spring and asparagus is definitely springy,” says owner Patti Soskin. Eating lighter means you’ll have room for a lemon cookie, prepared with lemon juice and lemon zest and finished with a lemon glaze. With a triple shot of lemon, this seasonal sweet treat is the ideal way to cap off your meal. Salmon $14.95, cookie $2.25.