Two brothers with a passion for food left their respective warm-weather climates behind in order to open their first establishment in their home state. Luckily for us, they're bringing some of that warmth back with them -- on a globally influenced menu.
At Lake & Irving, a new restaurant and bar in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood, the previous experiences of brothers Chris and Andrew Ikeda can be seen in nearly every dish.
Chris, who spent several years honing his craft in Hawaii, worked at and helped develop several restaurants at premiere resorts in Kona -- serving A-list celebrities, high-profile clients and rubbing elbows with some of the world's most talented chefs.
Meanwhile, his brother Andrew switched paths from his focus on creative writing to attend culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, Calif. During his schooling, he worked part time at a local vineyard before heading to Hawaii to work alongside his older brother at the Four Seasons Resort.
When the two confirmed they'd make a good team, they put plans in motion to open their first restaurant on their own, combining their worldly experiences with their Midwestern roots.
"Our approach to the menu, and our whole concept, kind of evolved around American food with global flavors," said Chris Ikeda, executive chef. "We kind of have that American food base but then we'll venture off into the different things I experienced with Hawaiian regional cuisine and the California cuisine that my brother experienced."
The Lake & Irving concept, named after its cross streets, has been in the works for about a year and a half -- but for Chris, it's the fruition of a lifelong dream.
"I've known that I wanted to be a restaurateur for a long, long time, probably since I was about 13, 14 years old," he said.
Chris said they looked at a number of places, at first focusing on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, before deciding on the Uptown digs.
"This place really sung to me because it's so close to Lake and Hennepin and it's just vibrant," he said. "We're not even two blocks down and it's a completely different vibe down here."
The restaurant, which used to be an ice cream shop, features several tables and wooden booths in the entrance, an open look into the kitchen and a full bar, complete with a large selection of craft beers, plus both wine and root beer on tap.
The menu, while still in progress, is a mix of small plates, fusion entrees and elevated sandwiches.
Chris said their main focus is to be approachable.
"We're trying to be a neighborhood restaurant first and foremost so we don't want to alienate people who are maybe not so adventurous," he said. "So we have a cheeseburger or a chicken sandwich but they're elevated. We're trying to cover all our bases without getting too out of the box."
Whenever possible the chefs focus on local ingredients, featuring bread from Patisserie 46, plus local meats and other products -- a trademark Andrew became passionate about during his time in Napa Valley.
Chris' Hawaiian influences can be seen in the ingredients -- salmon with Misoyaki and made-in-house smoked Kalua pork. Plus, he's always dreaming up new creations.
"A menu that doesn't evolve is just a dead menu," he said. "I think that's when you stop pushing yourself and that's when you stop moving forward."
Lake & Irving will feature brunch, lunch, dinner and late-night menu options and is slated for an official opening date in mid-November.
Chris said they're in no rush -- they want to take the time to make sure everything is right before they open their dream to the public and ensure it's just what they intended.
"I really hope that at the end of the day, they have an experience that they feel was approachable – approachable price points, our service being on point and our food being great," he said. "It's really those key things that make restaurants successful."
For more information about Lake & Irving, check out their website.
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