So Not a Hotel Restaurant
FireLake Grill suffers some risks as an in-house restaurant at the downtown Minneapolis Radisson Plaza Hotel: low visibility and the bland reputation of hotel dining. Profile raising is in order.
To begin with, there’s the kitchen. Much of FireLake’s food is grilled in an open-flame fire pit stoked with mesquite and a hickory wood-burning rotisserie that produces some of the tastiest, most succulent chicken you’ve ever been served. Second, the menu puts the road-warrior fare of most hostelries to shame: pasture-raised elk loin steak with Swedish mustard, heirloom corn–crusted walleye, Firebrick beer–battered crawfish with sherry scallion sauce, and bacon-wrapped buffalo ribeye are just a few examples of the distinctive selection.
But the restaurant’s most endearing distinction is Executive Chef Paul Lynch’s use of locally sourced and seasonally fresh ingredients. Lynch, who hails from Texas and was trained at the New England Culinary Institute, is a founding member of the Heartland Food Network, a collaborative effort of local chefs that promotes our regional agriculture. Every month, he creates a short list of dishes that showcase one or two local purveyors. In April, it was spring lamb from Doraisamy North ranch in Garfield; in May, asparagus from Lorence’s Berry Farm in Northfield; in August, it’s always a corn festival, this year with produce from farms in Stillwater and Apple Valley.
What’s next? An advance peek at Lynch’s November menu indicated plans to feature Riverside Farms pumpkins in a bisque and a bundt cake, and Wild Acres turkeys in an “osso buco”—plus, of course, a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.