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Monday, February 11, 2008

I Like Ike's

Being stuck in an airport for a couple of hours with only a Chili's or food court available within reasonable exploring distance is no way to spend that completely free and unredeemable time although that usually is how it winds up for me. C Concourse at MSP is one of the worst for food along with every place in ORD that doesn't have the Billy Goat Tavern (which is in Concourse C).

Last week I found myself with idle time, hunger and a connecting flight right off the main Lindbergh Terminal in Minneapolis. I passed by so many places I hadn't seen before hoping for that big score and was about to give up and turn back when I was standing in front of Ike's Food and Cocktail's, a cavern of dark wood, meat and comfort stark against the bright lights and sterility of the main airport terminal.

I, like many single travelers, took a seat at the bar which was fairly empty at 11:15 but it soon filled up with more arrivals. The menu is a scattershot of classic American food with some appealing quirks like the prepared-at-your-table guacamole and tapas-like "little plates." The meat of the operation is the glass-enclosed carving station at the front of the restaurant within view of passerbys in which a man decked out in classic chef's garb slices off chunks of prime rib and turkey and pork for the sandwiches that are so popular there.

The bartender was quick to take my order but seemed disappointed that I didn't want to see the wine list but come on, it's Monday before noon and I still have to drive two hours once I reach my final destination. At this point in my travels (Monday lunch) I was fully intending on maintaining a healthy diet all week (not so successful as you'll see later) so I ended up ordering the ahi tuna sandwich. The tuna was done perfectly, meaning not at all except for some searing on either side. Most times when I order a tuna steak, even if I say "rare," it comes out dry and flaky. This piece of tuna was one of the best I've had in awhile; soft, buttery and moist. I slathered it in wasabi and even as I was enviously eyeing the plates of my fellow diners who had ordered Thanksgiving dinner (a huge plate of turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy) for lunch on a February Monday, I didn't regret my choice.

If you find yourself stuck at MSP waiting for awhile to get on to where you're ultimately going (and cursing Northwest for the last time as you've sworn never to fly them again), stop in to Ike's. If you're coming home and don't have anymore obligations that day, definitely check out their wine list.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Mr. T said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I go through MSP often as I am from there. Yeah the food selection there sucks. I try and make it a habit not to eat in airports if possible because generally its highway robbery, so I usually eat before a flight, and pack some beef jerky and nuts in my carry-on bag (and an empty water bottle) whenever I fly.

Yet in those times when I am hungry and in airports, I keep on wandering around hoping to find someplace that doesn't lead to a miserable experience sitting on a plane with a grease bomb in my stomach. I'll give Ike's a try next time I am at MSP.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...

I agree with you on the highway robbery but as I've eaten in airports about 30 times in the past 9 months I've observed that the jacked up prices are usually at the fast food courts. Billy Goat is the only place at O'Hare I've seen real world prices. The prices at Ike's didn't seem out of line with what I would expect at a non-airport equivalent.

Of course, 95% of the time I'm eating on an expense account or on United or Northwest because of mechanical problems.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous foxspit said...

Excellent advice Swoof! I'm heading to Seattle in a couple of weeks and I've got a lengthy layover at MSP. I will definitely check out Ike's. Your timing is impeccable!

I usually loathe airport restaurants because the food never lives up to the price you pay for it. With such a long layover, however, I'm willing to bend my rules.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Mr. T said...

Foxspit - Dude if you truly have a REALLY long layover, I might suggest you consider going to the Mall of America as well. Its right across from the airport and they have a shuttle bus. I don't know if you are a mall rat or not, but there are some interesting shops in there, and decent food courts. If you've never been there, its worth a few hours.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous foxspit said...

Mr. T - I've got about 4 hours to kill each time, so I may heed your advice. Not until after I try that Ahi that Swoof described so deliciously. I also plan to hit Ivar's at Mukilteo as soon as humanly possible once I land.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous foxspit said...

I tried Ike's last week and I can echo Swoof's recommendation on the ahi. Seared to perfection! I was surprised at how thin the slices were, but there was plenty of meat and the wasabi mayo was a nice complement to the tuna.

Bill, the bartender, was a character. With 40 years of bartending experience, this guy was a pro. He recommended a local brew, so I had a Summit Pale Ale that was quite good.

I look forward to another layover at MSP so I can have the seared ahi again. Fantastic!

3:59 PM  

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