NOW OPEN : LORING PASTA BAR
Open just 24 hours and we were already facing a 45-minute for a table at the Loring Pasta Bar. But after sitting through months and months of construction ("What are they building that place with, Playskool tools?" an impatient friend once asked me), cooling our heels for three-quarters of an hour was a breeze.
And worth the wait. Owner Jason McLean has brought the theatrical whimsy of his Loring Cafe & Bar to Dinkytown with winning results. He's transformed the former Gray's Campus Drugs building into one of the city's most enchanting restaurant spaces, a bar and cafe slathered with a staggering amount of intricate brick and tile work, dominated by an airy two-story dining room.
The large menu will appeal to both budget-conscious university students as well as the post-collegiate crowd. Appetizers ($3 to $11) include the Loring's signature artichoke ramekin, several soups and salads and a number of thick-crust pizzas. Entrees range from a dozen pastas ($7 to $13) to six plates ($12 to $13) such as lemon-caper chicken, walleye and braised lamb shank. The wine list is noteworthy for its moderate prices ($5 to $6 per glass, an average of $35 per bottle).
Like the original Loring, the Pasta Bar has a heavy emphasis on live music. And like its predecessor, it's wonderfully romantic. I'm told a reservation policy will begin soon. All romance, no waiting. It works for me.
Loring Pasta Bar, 327 14th Av. SE., Minneapolis, 612-378-4849. Open 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday (kitchen closes earlier).
-- Rick Nelson