“You’ve never been to Lord Fletcher’s?” my friend Amy yelled, with a tinge of playful incredulity. Then she tilted her head to the side and exclaimed, “It’s a Minnesota tradition!”
We had moved from Rochester, N.Y., in 2007. It was now 2011. “You live in Minnetonka, and you’ve never been? Come on, we’re going,” she said.
We left my husband to watch our two small kids. Our girl squad met us in the gravel parking lot of Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge. It was about 9 p.m., and when I walked onto the wharf, I was in awe of the giant deck and its myriad of overhead lights, boats in the docks and the night vista of Lake Minnetonka.
We feasted on walleye sandwiches, always moist and tender with a good layer of bread accompanied by sweet tartar sauce. For dessert, we ordered the mud pie, a delicious blend of coffee ice cream, fudge and an Oreo crust.
Friends have moved on, but our family still remains. We always visit once a summer, and we aren’t the only ones. Lord Fletcher’s Old Wharf seats 500 people and is always packed in the summer. The building itself offers a smorgasbord of dining options. The wharf can be classified as a massive outdoor party, while the main dining area seats 500 people and is more quiet and elegant. The Oar House is a bar on the lake level that can accommodate 100 people. Menus, décor and dishes for each area are different and reflect the atmosphere.
A Minnetonka Staple
Lord Fletcher’s opened 52 years ago. It was the brainchild of Robert Naegele, founder of Naegele Outdoor Advertising. He designed it to be an English pub in Spring Lake, bringing a bit of Britain to Lake Minnetonka.
“It’s just been a tradition that has continued for years and years,” current owner and managing partner Tom Emer says of the summer crowd.
Enjoy our tips and fun facts about this Lake Minnetonka institution.
- USA’s third largest seller of walleye
- Serves 45,000 pounds of walleye a year
- Contrary to popular belief, the walleye isn’t from the pristine waters of Lake Minnetonka; It’s from Canada
- The wharf seats 500 people, can dock 100 boats and can serve up to 900 people
- 2,500 meals can be served on a Saturday in the summer
The Lord’s Secrets
Get a Good Seat on The Wharf
The key: timing, timing and more good timing
- For dinner: “Seating on the wharf is first-come, first-serve,” Emer says. “If you want a seat closest to the water, go early, around 5 p.m. If it’s a gorgeous day, arrive at the wharf around 3 p.m.”
- To watch the sunset: Arrive in June and July around 8:30 p.m., in August, 8 p.m.
For Music Lovers
There’s live music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. (check the website for schedules)
Skip the Weekend
Meat lovers will adore Mondays with $5 burgers and discounted beer.
Get Out of the Elements
The Oar House is an indoor bar on the lake that can fit 100 people. If it’s too hot outside, or you’re hit with a sudden summer rainstorm, Emer recommends it to escape the elements.
Way too hot outside? If you make a reservation in advance for the main dining room, ask to sit in the tables next to the windows that overlook the lake. The dining room has a larger menu with items you won’t find on the wharf.
A Lord Fletcher’s Guide for Wallflowers and Quiet Seekers
In the summer, the wharf transforms into a bit of a party. But the dining room is an elegant and tame experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get the best of both worlds.
Before You Go
Make a reservation for 5 p.m. in the dining room. Ask for the patio if you still want to dine outside and enjoy the music. If you’d rather have a quieter spot, ask for a table by the window in the dining room. Either location gets you away from the crowd.
Arrive at the wharf. This is the tail end of the lunch crowd but just before the early dinner crowd arrives. Order a drink and a small appetizer. People watch, enjoy a sand volleyball game or admire the lake scene.
Move up to the dining room area, and wait for your table. There is a completely different menu with more choices than what you see on the wharf.
Sit at your table. Order a frozen vodka lemonade or Long Island iced tea. Shrimp cocktail, ribeye steak, bison are the main attractions of the dining room menu.
Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge
3746 Sunset Drive, Spring Park