Sweet cocktails, pin-up girls at Lyndale Tap House

New Uptown gastropub specializes in pit beef, cheeky décor.

stTapHouse

stTapHouse

Kara Nesvig

The Lyndale Tap House ADDRESS: 2937 Lyndale Ave. S. PRICES: $5-15 My brother, my companion to the newest addition to Lyndale AvenueâÄôs ever-changing lineup of restaurants, the Lyndale Tap House, reviewed our dinner in one word: âÄúballinâÄô.âÄù And from his spicy, salty virgin Bloody Mary to my Philly cheesesteak sandwich to the soundtrack and décor, I think he summed up our experience at the restaurant and bar just about right. The Lyndale, which opened Sept. 29, fills the spot vacated in October last year by jPâÄôs American Bistro . It was conceived to bring a âÄúgastropubâÄù feel to Lyndale Avenue, which currently boasts a Galactic Pizza, the Herkimer , a Greek restaurant and recently, sound-bar Sauce . What is a gastropub, you might ask? I didnâÄôt know either. ItâÄôs a British term for a joint that serves better-quality bar food than the standard greasy burger and deep-fried chicken strips. The design team behind über-successful tequila bar chain Barrio was brought in to give the Lyndale its industrial-meets-Uptown-meets-kitsch-meets-neighborhood-bar look and feel. On the grey and gloomy Sunday we stopped in, the Lyndale was relatively busy for 4 p.m., an hour in which only 75+ folks usually eat. A group of friends in maroon and gold mourned the loss to Madison at the bar while an older couple dined together near a pair of girlfriends. Pretty, perky waitresses flitted from table to table attentively. We settled into a sleek black leather booth and immediately began to gush over the pictures hanging on the walls, decked with pin-up girls getting down on the farm. These arenâÄôt the typical Vargas girls painted in the âÄô50s, but rather Swedish models flown in specifically to be shot in Clearwater by pinup photographer Viva Van Story for the LyndaleâÄôs walls. A curvy blonde poses suggestively with a chicken in one photo, and a busty brunette leads a herd of cattle in another. The cheeky and irreverent ambience extended into the soundtrack as Rod Stewart gave way to âÄúP.Y.T .,âÄù which gave way to Fiona Apple , like a jukebox filled with familiar tunes you know all the words to. Our waitress recommended the two in my party who were of age try the Green Tea Mojito, which was sweet without being off-putting and potent without any trace of boozy burn, and the GrannyâÄôs Big O, an orange Fanta -based cocktail shaken with Stoli Orange and Grand Marnier . The Big O carried more bite than I expected, since it tasted just like a perfectly ripe orange. My little brother ordered a virgin House Made Bloody Mary, created with the barâÄôs own mix, a beef stick, a cube of smoky cheddar and rimmed with the LyndaleâÄôs pit spice. For 21 plus-ers, the bar mixes the Mary with an organic cucumber vodka from Square One. On tap at the Lyndale are the usual suspects: Summit EPA, BellâÄôs Two Hearted and Blue Moon . Their beer list isnâÄôt as extensive or comprehensive as other Twin Cities spots but itâÄôs well-rounded enough to cater to a varied audience. Their martinis are creatively shaken and stirred, from the dessert-ready Chocolate Cherry Martini (black cherry vodka, Kahlua, amaretto and cream) to a green tea vodka or gin-based cocktail or a cranberry fizz. Though none of us were particularly hungry (it was only 4 p.m. after all), we couldnâÄôt resist sampling from the menu, partially because we liked its typeface and layout. The LyndaleâÄôs touted specialty is pit beef, a method of preparing beef with various spices, grilling it over coals and letting it sit for three days before slow cooking it into pitch-perfect juiciness. Its Pit Burger and Pit Philly sandwich were monstrous affairs of meat, onions and cheddar sauce that came accompanied with heavenly fries. It looks as though the Lyndale Tap House should become a fixture on the Uptown bar circuit, creating a niche as the kind of bar where hipsters and old folks can coexist in pinup-bedecked harmony.