Would we go back:
3442 Lake Elmo Ave N
• Artichoke and Spinach Dip w/ Tortilla Chips $6.95 (shared)
• Mozzarella and Tomato Salad $5.95 (shared)
• Seafood Platter $29.95
• Hot Fudge Cake $5.95
Expected a lot from the Lake Elmo Inn. They are always rated very highly in readers polls, and they are very expensive. To say the least, I was disappointed. Granted they are always rated highly in desserts and brunch and we went there for dinner, but none the less when they are charging Pazzaluna, Goodfellows, Morton's prices you expect a lot. We went there for Steve's Birthday. On our birthday we are able to choose to go to any restaurant we want, whether we have been there before or not. I always choose one that I know is going to be good, but Steve, the risk taker of us, chose to go someplace new. Now for us this is not a big deal, since we go to restaurants a lot if one is a bummer it is not a big deal. But for many people, a birthday meal, may be one of the only times they go to a restaurant in a year, especially one priced this high. For them this would be a great disappointment.
The Spinach Artichoke Dip was salty, I could not taste either the spinach or the artichokes. The Mozzarella Tomato salad was not good. It had a dressing that totally overpowered the salad and the dressing was not that good. A mere two restaurants ago we had the same kind of salad at Pazzaluna and it did not even compare.
The seafood platter consisted of two shrimp, one part of a piece of a crab leg, a small lobster tail and a scallop. Everyone of these items were overcooked, except for the piece of crab and that was cold. The lobster tail was so overcooked it was almost not good to eat. If everything had been cooked to perfection I think this would have been very good, but since it was not and I paid $29.95 for it, I rated it poor.
At this point in time, some may say why didn't you give up and not order dessert? Their desserts are rated very high so I thought maybe the meal could in part redeem itself. No such luck, I ordered the Hot Fudge Chocolate Cake which was described the same as desserts I have had at Mortons, Aquavit, La Belle Vie and Zelo. They were all priced about the same, so I was encouraged. What you usually get for this dessert is a cake that is cooked to order, but is slightly undercooked so the middle is creamy and melty and wonderful. What I got at Lake Elmo Inn was a Chocolate Cupcake with Hot Fudge Sauce inserted in the middle. The quality of chocolate was not nearly as good as the above places either.
So once again the question that begs an answer is why? Why is it that this place is packed? Why is it that you need to make reservations at least a week, if not a month for prime time, in advance? Why is that people would go there, when they could drive another 10 minutes to restaurants such as La Belle Vie, Bayport Cookery, Pazzaluna or Kincaids, or another 20 minutes will get you to Aquavit, Mortons, Oceanaire, D'amica Cucina, Goodfellows? At all of these restaurants you will pay the same price, but the meal will be amazing and you will wonder why haven't you been there before?
• 6oz Tournedos with Shrimp $25.95
• Sin of the Inn $5.95
Imagine our expectations when we read that Lake Elmo Inn has been rated in many top ten lists for best restaurant, best dessert, and best brunch. It certainly is popular, with reservations difficult to come by, parking limited, and a packed house on weekends. The restaurant makes the most of their reputation; they charge top dollar for each of their a la carte courses.
The price is the heart of the our poor rating. When we pay a higher price, we expect more than tortilla chips with the artichoke spinach dip. With the amount they charge for salad, we split the mozzarella tomato salad with prosciutto. I was disappointed with they did not split the salad for us. Then, the salad disappointed when it was not half as food as Pazzaluna's Mozzarella Salad.
The Tornadoes were cooked medium rare, as ordered and they were tender and juicy. The two were each topped with a chewy, overcooked shrimp. The sides, mixed vegetables and pepper mashed potatoes, were good, probably because they were swimming in butter.
I was stuffed by the time we reached dessert, but I had to order the Sin of the Inn. This is one of the best dessert names in the Twin Cities. However, I have to agree with many critics; it is too sweet for my taste. In my opinion, like the restaurant, it is overrated.
$20 and up
January 13, 2001