Friday, April 08, 2011

Dive Night ~ Lakeside Club

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar. Casual atmosphere and good food. We're out to find the best food in the Minneapolis/St Paul area without having to pay a fortune or dress up. A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either. 

"...Where the customer is always wrong."  Seriously, the waitresses at the Lakeside Club wear t-shirts with this slogan on the back.  I'll get back to that later.

The Lakeside Club has been family owned and operated in Mahtomedi, MN since 1946.  It's nothing fancy, that's for sure.  But you don't really need fancy when you're hungry for good food.

Don't let the lack of patrons scare you away.  We arrived quite early.  By the time we left the place was packed.  However, this next image might scare you a little.  It was hanging on the wall right over Ruthie's head and I had to look at it all evening long.

Now, on with the show.  Waitress #1 came to our table to take our drink orders.  That went all fine and well as we're an easy bunch to please.  Wine and beer is pretty much the extent of it.  So she goes and gets our drinks and tells us about the nightly special ~ an all-you-can eat cod fish fry for $14.99.  I asked what comes with the special.  She answered "soup (clam chowder) and salad and a choice of baked potato or french fries."  That sounded pretty good to me, but we had to order appetizers first.  We chose onion rings (heavenly!) and fried cheese curds.  They were delivered by Waitress #2.

When Waitress #2 delivered our appetizers she took our entree orders.  Ruthie, Ray and I ordered the fish fry special and Husby ordered a ribeye steak.  Because we were so eager to jump into the appetizers it didn't occur to us that she didn't ask us whether we wanted french fries or baked potato.  We devoured the very delicious onion rings and cheese curds.  Yum!

Waitress #3 came to our table with our entrees.  Husby's steak came with a baked potato and a lovely salad with little goldfish.

I had a bite of the steak and it melted in my mouth.  It was absolutely perfect.  This is the fish fry special the rest of us ordered...

I asked Waitress #3 about the soup and salad that's supposed to come with our meal and she looked at me as though my hair was on fire.  "That doesn't come with the meal."  Oh, really?  Well that's what we were told, and were also told we'd have a choice of baked potato or french fries.  I didn't mind the fries as I love to dip them in tartar sauce and plus they were really good ~ crisp on the outside and soft on the inside and very hot.  Waitress #3 pretty much blew us off, saying once again that we got what comes with the special and that's all we were going to get.  The fish was very good and Ruthie, Ray, and I all had seconds.  Might as well take advantage of the all-you-can-eat part of the special as the rest of it was a lie.  Waitress #1 came back to our table to apologize about giving us misinformation, but offered nothing for our trouble.  We were kind and said it was okay and the food we did get was delicious.  And it was delicious.  The Lakeside Club has excellent food, let me be very clear on that.

When we were nearly done with our meals Waitress #1 came back and said to us, "if you're going to pay your bill in cash I can offer you a free dessert."  Now I don't know if that's a rule for the restaurant in general or if they were trying to make up for the fact that they basically pulled a bait-and-switch on us with the fish special.   But I spoke up right away and said I'll take a free dessert.  Why not?  When I asked what they had to offer Waitress #1 rattled off several desserts they had, many of which there was only one piece available.  I found that puzzling as we were ordering dessert around 6:30, not at some late hour of the evening when it would be more understandable if they were running out of options.  No matter, Husby and I shared a piece of turtle cheesecake which was very good.

All in all it was a kind of weird experience.  I'm not sure why there were three people waiting on us.  I also hesitate to label Waitress #1 a bubblehead because of the misinformation she gave us regarding the special because I can't be sure the offerings aren't in constant flux in the kitchen.  I think things are run pretty casually at the Lakeside Club.  However, I will stand firm on saying the food was excellent and would definitely recommend their steak. 

As for the waitress' t-shirt slogans "...where the customer is always wrong," I'll say Amen.  While all of the people who waited on us were polite and efficient, I think the restaurant as a whole figures it can get away with a lot of shinanigans because they know they'll make up for it with their fabulous food.  Try it out and see what your experience is.  No matter what happens you'll be rewarded with an excellent meal.

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