It happens far too often: You go to the fridge, pull out a loaf of grocery store bread, some lettuce, mayo and veggies, and make a sandwich. Please stop; you are giving the sandwich a bad name. We recently had the pleasure to stop at a few Lake Minnetonka spots for a tour of what the sandwich can be, and believe me, you would be asking a lot of yourself to recreate these at home.
Turkey, Apple and Brie Sandwich & Potato Leek Soup
Co-owner Tom Peterson is carving out a badly needed niche in the Lake Minnetonka area. The sandwiches he serves are filling, creative and—most importantly—tasty. The turkey, apple and brie is filled with generous slices of good quality turkey breast, layered with tart, thin slices of granny smith apples, portions of creamy, slightly melted brie and balanced with honey pecan butter. This is all stacked between hearty slices of freshly baked whole wheat bread. The saltiness of the turkey, the creaminess of the cheese and the tart sweetness of the apple meld together extremely well. The sandwich is served with your choice of chips or side salad, though you’d be hard pressed to pass on the salad. The mixed spring greens salad is served perfectly tossed with a light citrus vinaigrette and provides a nice contrast to the slight richness of the sandwich. $9.25.
To stop at just a sandwich would mean passing up one of 318’s tasty handmade soups. On this occasion, we tasted a creamy potato leek soup (the owner frequently offers soups that are vegetarian friendly) that would do well during any season. The fresh flavors of the potato and the leek were more than present, and were not overshadowed by too much salt or cream. The soup is served with a good hunk of baguette that is not to be overlooked. $4 cup, $6 bowl. 318 Water St., Excelsior; 952.401.9902
Chicken Wild Rice Soup & Cuban Panini
We’d be leery of ordering chicken wild rice soup at any other place for fear that it won’t match the flavor and quality that is found at Pairings. It’s clear they are serving handcrafted, hearty soups that will warm any soul on a cool day. This creamy soup is jam-packed with hunks of tasty chicken and grains of quintessential Minnesota wild rice, along with chunks of carrots and celery. This perfectly seasoned soup isn’t going to surprise anyone with unique ingredients or alterations to the classic recipe, but it will please anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure to taste Pairings’ interpretation. $3.95 cup, $6.95 bowl.
Pairings’ version of the Cuban Panini is a well-designed sandwich. The bread has a soft interior with a crusty exterior, which nicely holds the shredded roast pork, cured ham, grainy mustard, swiss cheese and homemade pickles. Oh, the pickles! The quick pickles that Pairings creates for this sandwich are delicious, and just the thing needed to take all that rich, savory flavor and bring it all together with the tartness of the pickles. The sandwiches at Pairings are served with some of the best chips in all of the lake area—thickly cut and super crunchy without any of the grease that frequently accompanies house-made chips. $9.50. 6001 Shady Oak Rd. S., Minnetonka; 952.426.0522
Roasted Red Pepper Soup & Cork Corned Beef Sandwich
The key to the success of the roasted red pepper soup and the cork corned beef sandwich is using simple ingredients, but letting their flavors develop so the ingredients can reach their full potential. The soup is made with just a few ingredients: roasted red peppers (charred and de-skinned in-house), chicken stock, cream and seasonings. The pepper flavor is present, but not so strong that it dominates the soup—a plus in our book. $3.75 cup, $5.50 bowl.
The cork corned beef sandwich works on a similar level. Large chunks—but not so large that the sandwich falls apart—of tender beef brisket are set within two slices of lightly buttered wheat bread. The sandwich is then flavored with pickled sweet onion and grainy mustard. While it contains only four ingredients, the sandwich accentuates the slow braised beef with complimentary flavors and makes for quite the enviable dish. $10.75. 200 Water St., Excelsior; 952.908.9650
Ham and Swiss Sub & White Chicken Chili
Joey Nova’s Pizzeria and Grilled Subs
Until recently, Joey Nova’s has focused exclusively on pizza and subs. Lucky for us in the lake area, they’ve just added soup to the mix with two solid offerings. Our new favorite is the white chicken chili, which is made from scratch daily. Though this soup looks nothing like a classic chili, it shares many characteristics of your typical potluck offering. It has the familiar chili flavor, but is made with chunks of white chicken, beans, bell and jalapeno peppers, spices and cream for just the right consistency. This soup is very hearty and perfect for a chili day, pun intended. $3.
At lunchtime, you can pair a generous cup of soup with half of one of their classic submarine sandwiches for a thrifty $6. The subs are simple but really, really tasty. The ham and swiss features cured smoked ham and aged swiss cheese. This combo is paired with thick sliced tomatoes and romaine lettuce leaves. A lightly grilled ciabatta-style bread smeared with just a bit of mayo holds everything together (full-sized sub, $6.75). You may think of Joey Nova’s when you’re in the mood for a pizza pie, but this spot shouldn’t be forgotten for their wide variety of family friendly fare. Bon appetite! 5655 Manitou Rd., Tonka Bay; 952.405.2700