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Restaurant review: Spanky's Stone Hearth not your typical lakeside supper club

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Spanky's Stone Hearth

Address: 34785 County Highway 4, Frazee, Minn.

Cuisine: American

Food: 4 out of 4

Service: 3 out of 4

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Ambiance: 4 out of 4

Dining details

Hours: Monday through Sunday: 5 p.m. to close

Phone: (218) 334-3555

Reservations accepted: Yes

Alcohol: Full Bar

Dress: As you like

Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express

FRAZEE, Minn. - Spanky's Stone Hearth on Rose Lake isn't your typical lakeside supper club.

The summer standbys can definitely be found at Spanky's, as evidenced by an offering of charcoal-grilled steaks, barbequed ribs and selection of chicken. But the restaurant's carefully thought-out menu and kitchen go beyond the basics and suggest Spanky's is something special.

For starters try the Green-Lipped Mussels ($11), which are larger than the Prince Edward Island mussels you'll find most places and bring more meat to an appetizer both in texture and flavor. The addition of saffron to the traditional white wine sauce, common in mussels served with tomatoes, brings an eastern quality to a maritime dish.

Oddly, French bread isn't served with, but ask for something to soak up the incredible broth and this appetizer becomes a meal.

This attention to detail shows itself in other often-ignored dishes. Beer cheese soup, often a mild afterthought sitting on the back of the stove, comes to the table with fresh herbs and the bite of good, sharp cheddar.

Main courses show the same care. Walleye wrapped around a stuffing of lobster, crab and shrimp turn a local favorite into something a bit more exotic ($26). A purist might argue the walleye took a back seat to the dressing, but you can always catch another walleye. The seafood stuffing lacks the same care in its seasoning and presentation.

The reverse is true for the Baked Quail ($26), game that can easily be overcome by side dishes. At Spanky's, it's tunnel boned for easy eating and stuffed with a subtle collection of artichokes, spinach and cheese.

The two similar preparations offer two very different dishes, each interesting with their own highlights.

The wine list is huge and, as most extensive lists go, expensive. But you can stay under $30 a bottle without disappointment. Buried deep in the list is a spicy, black-cherry-filled Garnacha de Fuego at $28, still not cheap but a joy to drink and fun to say.

Service can be a bit slow, and servers seem stretched at times. Our meals came hot but the time between courses was considerable. Our table wasn't cleared of dishes until after dessert arrived and, even after finishing our ice cream, an empty soup bowl and appetizer fork were still left behind.

The view is unbeatable. The outdoor dining is gorgeous, and the flowerbeds are stunning. The log cabin interior is, well, very log cabin-y.

It's a summer experience that's worth the trip from Fargo-Moorhead or any part of lakes country.

Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach him at food@daeuber.com.

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