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Sneak Peek: Birch's on the Lake
Where Were You For Your First Time?
By: Jason DeRusha | Posted: 05/05/2014
I love the cities. But I live in the suburbs.
One of the joys of living in Maple Grove is that it’s just a 20 minute drive into Minneapolis to have lunch at Pizza Nea, or Anchor Fish & Chips, or Mayslacks; and just 30 minutes to get to St. Paul and hit Cosetta or The Buttered Tin. But sometimes you want to eat closer to home. I spent three years reviewing suburban restaurants in town, and I admit to having a soft spot in my heart for those small business owners, swimming upstream in the land of TGI Fridays and The Olive Garden.
So when Patrick Bernet took over the old California Pizza Kitchen in the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, at first I thought—crazy! Then I thought—brilliant! There’s still pizza there, as in, the Alsatian specialty, tarte flambé. It’s pretty solid. The crust is crispy, the traditional tarte flambé is topped with onion and bacon. In France, it’s usually lardon (bacon cubes), while Patrick’s used regular bacon, but the flavors were great, and this is a pizza we’ll come back to again.
We tried a quiche—chicken with feta and tomato. Pretty cool: the feta was melted and combined into the eggy batter, so it was quite creamy. The crust was flaky and light, and the price for lunch was great—just $7.45. It's hard to argue with Patrick’s French Onion Soup ($5.80)—very cheesy, very gooey, with a really rich onion flavor. My son Seth ordered off the adult menu, the Forestier Patou Burger ($9.95 with fries). Caramelized onions, bacon, mushrooms served on a fresh baguette. The bread was soft, although it was still a bit of a challenge for an 8-year-old.
There’s a large wine bar and a pastry case for take-out. The pastries were perfect; I was not impressed with the domestic wine offerings (nothing wrong with a Cline Viognier, McManis Cab or Trefethen Chard, but nothing really exciting about those choices either). I recommend you drink a French wine, when in French Maple Grove . . . as they say. I liked the Guigal from Cote du Rhones ($9) and the Bouchard Pinot Noir from Burgundy ($9).
The service was great, the décor of the restaurant is bright and welcoming. Pittsburgh Blue has been my top Maple Grove restaurant, but Patrick’s is a game-changer. Reasonable prices, interesting food? Welcome to the suburbs!
Patrick’s Restaurant and Bakery, 12489 Elm Creek Blvd., Maple Grove, 763-420-7770, patricksbakerycafe.com
Photo courtesy Patrick's Bakery & Cafe
Jason DeRusha anchors WCCO-TV’s morning and noon news. His column "DeRusha Eats" appears in Mpls.St.Paul Magazine monthly. See bio
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