There’s always plenty to do right around Lake Minnetonka, especially in the spring and summer. But even for those of us who live here, it’s nice to get a change of scenery once in a while. Just a short drive away—less than an hour for most of us around the lake, and even closer for those who live on the northwest side of Lake Minnetonka—is Delano, Minnesota, a small town with big charm. It’s the perfect weekend getaway, with its pastoral setting and burgeoning dining scene. We’ve chosen a few local favorites to highlight here, so grab your calendar and your Google Maps, and start planning your weekend away.
You might have heard the buzz about Bonde Bistro even here in the Lake Minnetonka area. Delano locals and foodies from the Twin Cities alike are showing up for chef and owner Charlie Williams’s farm-to-table fare. Williams opened Bonde Bistro in late 2015, partly to fill a need in Delano for high-quality restaurants. “I grew up in Bloomington and moved to Delano in 2001,” Williams says. “There’s just never been a lot of fine dining in this area, and that was part of the reason [for opening].” Bonde (which is pronounced “boon” and is the Norwegian word for “farmer”) features a range of down-to-earth menu items, some on the American side of the spectrum and some Nordic-inspired. “I set out to have more of a Scandinavian flair on seafood, something that’s lighter,” Williams explains. “But I don’t want it to be stuffy. Right now, our top seller is designer burgers. And we do really good barbecue.”
Everything on the menu is made from scratch, with most ingredients from local and regional producers. “Everything’s craft here,” says Williams. “And if we’re craft in the kitchen, we’re going to be craft at the bar.” That means truly local beer and spirits, including those from Delano’s Lupine Brewing Co. (read more on page 19) and Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis. “On Thursdays, we’re running Prohibition Night,” says Williams. “We have a bartender who makes our own aquavit, bitters and limoncello.”
Williams, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America and worked in some of the Twin Cities’ top restaurants (including Butcher and the Boar and Spoon and Stable), says it’s been a little tricky to introduce an eatery with an urban vibe to small-town Delano. But the reception from the community has been positive. “It’s up to me as a proprietor to make people aware of what we have and what we do. To me, we’re a Minneapolis-style restaurant; we just happen to be located in Delano. People come in and say, ‘I love the warmth and the ambiance.’ We’ve been fortunate to get really good reviews on the food as well.”
Delano offers several lodging options, including a handful of perfectly serviceable chain hotels, with the requisite swimming pools and continental breakfasts. But to immerse yourself in a true getaway, get back to nature: Try our pick for a bed and breakfast that’s off the beaten path, with the perfect mix of family-owned hospitality and rustic charm.
Husband and wife Greg and Christie Wood opened their Dutch Lake Farm Guest House in 2007 and have been bitten by the hospitality bug ever since. “It’s a lot of fun, meeting all of the guests,” says Christie Wood. “We have loved doing it.” The Woods moved to the area more than 20 years ago and purchased a large parcel of land that included fields (they rent out cropland to a neighboring farmer and now run a Christmas tree farm), a barn and other outbuildings, and an old house that needed big renovations.
Luckily for the Woods, Greg is a custom furniture-builder. “He converted the barn and made it into his workshop,” Christie Wood explains. “Eventually, we built our small cabin.” While their children finished high school in Eden Prairie, the family commuted back and forth to Delano on weekends, and worked to finish the main house and a guest house “We originally built the guest house for our kids who were moving away, out of the nest,” Wood says. “Since they don’t come home that often, it was empty, and we thought about renting it out as a B&B.” The rest is history.
The guest house blends beautifully into the landscape, with a view of the property’s lake. The design evokes Nordic minimalism, both rustic and modern, with lots of warm wood and cozy nooks. “It has a private entrance, a living room, dinette, kitchenette, queen bedroom and full bedroom,” says Wood. “Most of our guests are coming for a private getaway, maybe an anniversary or a wedding night—often a couple’s getaway.” But all kinds of groups are welcome. “Last weekend, we had a father and son who were having a getaway to connect and talk about coming of age,” she says. “We’re also hooked up with a writers’ group. If an author needs a place to get away, they’ll stay for a week and work on their book while they’re here.”
The setting is quiet, at the end of a dead-end road. Guests get to use the dock and a canoe, and in the wintertime, there are snowshoes for traversing the Woods’ acreage. “We have an 80-acre farm, with trails around the whole thing for snowshoeing or hiking,” says Wood. “We aren’t far from the Luce Line state trail—about six miles,” she adds. “Sometimes people bike out on the trail from the city and stay with us, and ride back the next day or two.” Every morning, Greg and Christie tag-team breakfast. Guests choose what time they’d like breakfast delivered to the guest house, and can make (within reason) special requests. The Woods grow most of their own vegetables and herbs in their garden, and harvest eggs from their flock of chickens.
Christie Wood’s Local Favorites
- Eat at Bonde Bistro
- Eat at Lola’s Lakehouse
- Go antiquing in nearby Buffalo, Minn.
- Ride the Luce Line trail and stop for a bite at the Ox Yoke Inn
Who says craft brewing is solely the domain of urban hipsters? Not the team at Lupine Brewing Company, which opened its taproom in Delano in 2015. “It’s been a dream of mine to own my own business,” says founder and owner James Anderle. “My partners and I kept gravitating toward the craft beer industry for a variety of reasons. A big one is the camaraderie of the community itself. When we go to other breweries, everybody’s friendly and willing to help each other out.”
Anderle and his team leased space in St. Cloud while they built their Delano brewery and taproom. In St. Cloud, they started brewing, getting their product to market and building their brand. “Grant Aldrich is our head brewer,” says Anderle. “He has remarkable talents when it comes to putting together recipes and coming up with new ideas.” Lupine strives for variety, so anyone who visits the taproom can find something they like. “We have eight to 10 beers on tap at all times,” Anderle says. “We’re not chasing a lot of the trends. Our beers are not overly hoppy, and are easy to drink. When we do add flavors, we try to keep it subtle. I would say our beer is sophisticated,” he adds. “If you’re new to the industry, you’re not going to be scared trying our beers.”
So why is Delano the perfect place to open a new taproom? First, there was a dearth of breweries on the far west side of the Twin Cities. “We’re kind of on the outskirts of town,” Anderle explains. “We’re still far enough [away from the Twin Cities] where a lot of folks in our geographical area are just being introduced to the craft beer scene. We want to make sure they come and have an enjoyable experience. They can hang out and become part of the social community here.” Want to try a new beer? Simply ask for a taste, and the barkeep will help you find your new favorite. “We do flights for people who want a sampler,” says Anderle. “We do tours upon request, depending on how busy we are.” Guests can also call ahead to schedule a tour. If you’re ready to kick up your heels (or just recline with a cold brew and listen), Lupine offers live music on Wednesday and Friday nights, and will likely add some live-music evenings to the week this year.