Lyn-Lake’s New Bistro

Cathie Hall brings a European-neighborhood feel to Vino 610.

I have a form of “roving eye syndrome” common to restaurant critics. Wherever I am, I’m scouting for eating and drinking establishments that look worth a try. Spotting something doesn’t always lead to action—there’s an intriguing fried-chicken restaurant on 26th Street just east of Nicollet that I’ve never known a soul to have entered, including me—but I didn’t hesitate to try a new wine bar in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood, Vino 610 (612-821-8466, www.vino610.com, 610 West Lake Street, Minneapolis).

 

Here was a retail space that sat vacant for some three years that suddenly had crowds of young professional types lining up out the door. Inside, I was met by the engaging owner, Cathie Hall, who’s been in the restaurant business for 23 years and moved here from Omaha recently. Hall says she’s always wanted to run a place with the personal feel of European cafés, where the owner is always present. After a long site search and another search for financing, she opened Vino 610 in November.

She’s serving nothing too ambitious mind you—just some 74 different wines, 47 of them available by the glass as well as in tasting flights. A compact menu of bistro fare includes dips and salads, one of them a wonderful romaine and spinach mix topped with crumbled blue cheese, candied walnuts, pears, and balsamic vinaigrette. Entrées range from a creamy tomato soup with red peppers served alongside a grilled three-cheese sandwich to chicken fajitas, salmon with lentils, and a petit filet accompanied by a rich red-wine reduction and rosemary mashed potatoes.

Everything here is made from scratch, and that extends to the raspberry sauce on the cheesecake and a decadent, layered chocolate fudge cake. Sometimes a roving eye is richly rewarded.