Having just opened its doors within the past year and nabbing mixed reviews, we had to test Loring Kitchen and Bar for ourselves. On a late Friday afternoon, we strolled over to its outdoor patio to check out the happy hour specials and enjoy the last few weeks of outdoor dining left in Minnesota. Low patio tables and umbrella-covered high tops were scattered among large planters of fresh flowers, giving way to a view of the Loring Park fountain and local passerbys. Though we didn’t step inside, our peek of LKB’s interior showed a sleek, modern space with dark wood and plenty of windows that would make for a nice setting in any season.
For happy hour, we enjoyed cold beers for $3.50 a pop (Jim testing out a Rogue Dead Guy Ale and me indulging in a large goblet of Stella Artois) and a $6 Basil and Tomato pizza that kept us full well into the evening. Though many pizzas – especially bar food masquerading as gourmet fare – skimp on cheese, this one had enough mozzarella to cover, but not smother, the pie. Tomatoes were sparse, though juicy when present; crust was sturdy, but not special; and the pesto wasn’t bold, but did nicely complement the overall plate. Overall, the value of LKB’s happy hour menu was enough to convince us it’d be worth a return. A step above bar food? Yep – but on a hot Friday after work, that’s all we were looking for.
When relatives suggested LBK as a brunch spot later that weekend, we thought – why not check out the other side of the menu? Turns out, we felt the same about the food versus the value for breakfast as we did during happy hour. Prices were fair, though while the concepts were fine – not outrageously original, but more than the standard morning fare – the execution was just so-so. Jim’s Prosciutto Boursin Benny consisted of two poached eggs on Texas Toast mixed with pieces of prosciutto, spinach and boursin cheese. Egg yolk and hollandaise hardly covered the thick slices of toast, leaving it somewhat dry, but the overall flavor was adequate. My Roasted Chicken and Asparagus Omelet was nicely done, with juicy chunks of chicken and crisp asparagus spears cooked into the egg and smeared with creamy goat cheese. But the accompanying toast wasn’t more than warm bread, and the once-frozen rectangular hashbrown patty that came with both our entrees lacked much of anything. Premium Italian coffee was definitely the highlight, though the endless refills made it dangerous for a lazy Sunday afternoon (a fault we admit is all our own, and not the restaurant’s).
Loring Kitchen and Bar was … good. Its decent value with a pleasant location for any leisure occasion doesn’t put it on our short list of favorites, but it isn’t a bad neighborhood go-to for drinks and a light bite to eat. Sometimes, mediocrity is just enough to satisfy.
RATING (out of 5 ♠♠♠♠♠)
Menu Selection: ♠♠♠
Food Taste & Presentation: ♠♠1/2
COMPLETE EXPERIENCE: ♠♠1/2
Total bill for both trips, including tip: $50