Maple Grove’s Best Patios

by | Jun 2011

Pittsburgh Blue Patio

From first-rate views to quiet retreats, explore the season’s best alfresco fare.

Something about eating alfresco just makes our food and drink taste better. From crisp salads to juicy burgers, from house-infused liquors to your favorite brews on tap, it seems Minnesotans just can’t get their fill of drinking and dining in the open air. Luckily, you don’t have to stray far from home to get the best patio seats in town. Here’s our shortlist of the season’s best picks for dining under the stars (or lunching in the afternoon sun).

Blackberry Mojito
Pittsburgh Blue
Just when you thought a mojito couldn’t get any more heavenly, Pittsburgh Blue has concocted a blackberry version with DonQ’s key lime-infused limón, blackberry puree and freshly muddled mint ($10), and it’s nearly addictive. Pittsburgh Blue’s patio is in its second year, and between that mojito and the pomegranate martini – made with Stoli vodka, Pama liqueur, pomegranate juice, agave nectar and cranberry juice ($10) – you’ll have a hard time tearing yourself away at the end of the night. Among the patio features are an eight-foot waterfall and landscaping to the hilt (with birch trees, even, which help shield the space from traffic noise.) In the summer months, the kitchen will be serving up more than a few of the starter-sized chop salads, says general manager Scott Chaffee, describing a customer favorite that offers a full taste of the garden with grape tomatoes, carrots, radishes, red peppers, green beans, iceberg and romaine lettuces, bacon and green goddess dressing ($5.95). 11900 Main St. N.; 763.416.2663

Lobster Clubhouse
Highlander Pub and Restaurant
While the Highlander will always have its beefier mainstays – like the half-pound pub burgers and the prime rib – the newest pub menu has unveiled a lighter side. On a warm summer day, we doubt you’ll be able to resist the lobster clubhouse, made with layers of cold water lobster, house-smoked Canadian bacon, field greens, tomato and a lemon basil aioli ($14). With light, clean flavors, the new Asian-inspired lettuce wraps are also expected to fly off the shelves this summer, with Boston bibb lettuce wrappers, a chicken and mushroom mix in an Asian marinade, julienned daikon radish and Chinese rice noodles. “Our concept is the same, everything made from scratch, using locally grown ingredients, but we’ve added some lighter, healthier fare,” says manager Bruce Michaelson. The outdoor terrace view of Rush Creek golf course reveals beautiful scenery for lunch, dinner or just a refreshing pint of the Rush Creek Amber after a round of 18 holes. 7801 Troy Ln. N.; 763.255.2939

Marshall Franklin Long

Basil Pineapple Smash
3 Squares
There’s nothing really complicated about this thirst-quencher of a drink at 3 Squares, but the basil pineapple smash tastes impossibly good, starting with Minnesota-made Prairie vodka mixed with basil leaves, lemon juice, a house made simple syrup and pineapple juice ($8.50). In fact, many of the drinks at 3 Squares sound like something you could drink by the pitcher on a hot summer afternoon. The cucumber pear margarita, made with cucumber-infused tequila, pear liqueur, house made sweet and sour, mint syrup and lime wedge with a salt rim, is another example. Either one of these drinks goes for half price during happy hour, offered all day until 6 p.m. and from 9 p.m. to close. On the food side, the pear salad ($10.25), with walnuts and cheese, is a complete meal that “doesn’t weigh you down,” says manager Katie Ledin. Go with that or Ledin’s other recommendation, the wild mushroom flatbread, with smoked gouda, caramelized onions and a dusting of truffle oil ($8.45). 12690 Arbor Lakes Pkwy.; 763.425.3330

Corned Beef and Cabbage Roll
Claddagh Irish Pub
Put Claddagh’s outdoor patio on your list of must-see places this summer. The restaurant has put about $10,000 into revamping the space, with a patio garden, all-leather, lounge-style seating, a fire pit and outdoor speakers. The corned beef and cabbage rolls appetizer ($6.99), made in a wonton wrapper with Monterey jack cheese and served with sweet chili and thousand island dipping sauces, is a lighter portion of the old Irish favorite, making it a good fit for summer. It’s half price during happy hour. The fish and chips ($13.50), made with wild cod in a Bass Ale batter and served with golden brown pub chips, are still a massive hit in the warmer months, and on Mondays you can get two orders for the price of one. 7890 Main St. N.; 763.773.7400

Cobb Salad
The Lookout Bar & Grill
From the vantage point of The Lookout, summer couldn’t be sweeter. The 1.5-acre grounds attracts everyone from volleyball enthusiasts to families, with an outdoor playground, horseshoe pits, tetherball and a fire pit, and the Minneapolis skyline within viewing range. The summer menu features at least 10 salads, and the classic Cobb ($8.99) is a beloved favorite, made with diced eggs, blue cheese, olives, tomatoes, ham, turkey and your choice of dressing, and substitute shrimp skewers for $1.99 extra. The buffalo chicken wrap is another hot seller ($8.99), with a choice of sides like French fries or potato salad. If you’re feeling that island flavor, then it has to be the Lookout punch, made with Malibu rum and peach schnapps with orange, pineapple and cranberry juices, and served in a big hurricane glass ($6.95). 8672 Pineview Ln. N.; 763.424.4365

The Jumbo Burger
Dick’s Bar & Grill
Certain summer days just call for a hearty, juicy burger. Dick’s burgers are classic, and this Jumbo burger ($11.25) is a full pound of ground beef, marinated in A1 sauce, served with both Swiss and American cheese, ham, lettuce and tomato, and placed on a ciabatta bun. The two-handed sandwiches, especially the turkey ($7.50) and roast beef, served with barbecue sauce and au jus ($8.50), are also popular in the summer. The patio at this family-owned, neighborhood spot is situated in the heart of downtown Osseo, and it’s good for people watching. 205 Central Ave., Osseo; 763.425.7400

Mussels in Tomato-Garlic Broth
The simplicity of mussels is pleasing to the senses during the balmy months, when you don’t want to take in anything too rich or heavy. At Biaggi’s, a full pound of them is served in a tomato garlic white wine broth, with bread ($8.99). The Caprese salad ($7.99) is another best bet when summer is at its peak, made with sliced beefsteak tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, red onion, fresh basil leaves and kalamata olives, then splashed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The small, west-facing sidewalk patio at Biaggi’s is a solid pick for lunch, when you’ll probably be avoiding alcohol, so opt for one of the Italian sodas instead. 12051 Elm Creek Blvd.; 763.416.2225


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