A Party of Club Sandwiches Around Lake Minnetonka

Hanging out with the popular sandwich.
The Narrows Saloon presents a unique take on their club by using ahi tuna as the sandwhich's protein.

The origin of the clubhouse sandwich is apocryphal. What was the club? Whose clubhouse was it? Rumors abound but there is no definitive answer other than it was sighted on menus as early as 1899. A version of the club sandwich seems to be on every menu today, no matter the restaurant genre, the town or even the country. Despite its murky origins, the club sandwich’s popularity is a no-brainer: How could it go wrong with two or three kinds of meat, cheese, toasted bread and a fat schmear of mayo? The standard club sandwich formula allows room for creative interpretation without straying too far from its basic magic. And despite the complex layers of components it remains manageable in practical terms: no squirting juices, burned fingers or dripping sauce. We took a tour of our extensive local club scene and came up with some real rockin’ standouts.




This fat sammy is a carnivore’s delight, bursting with a veritable orgy of sliced meats including ham, turkey, roast beef and bacon, with little evidence of pesky vegetation to distract from the glorious protein frenzy. There are also two kinds of cheese in this baby—Swiss and American. It’s all tightly toothpicked together between three slices of buttery, toasted sourdough bread and cut into those familiar easily held triangles we love. $11. One Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.0937; haskells.com 


Jake O’Connors

This creation wins the prize for the tallest club sandwich we found, which means it’s cool-looking but a little hard to eat without the innards spilling forth—and we hope not into your lap. It’s OK to take the thing apart and eat it with a knife and fork, as the turkey breast itself is worthy of separate attention. It’s the real deal, freshly roasted in-house to perfect tenderness and sliced thickly. The bread is much more interesting than the all-too-common bland raft of meat-and-cheese support; it actually contributes its own flavor to the multilayered character of the sandwich.  $10.75. 200 Water St., Excelsior; 952.908.9650; jakeoconnors.com

Macy’s Lakeshore Grill

Smoked turkey, applewood-smoked bacon, Monterey jack cheese and cranberry mayonnaise join forces on two thick slices of sweet swirled cinnamon-raisin bread with the pillowy texture of Texas toast. It’s grilled into an oozy amalgamation of complementary flavors that are halfway between Thanksgiving and brunch, an instantly compelling combination of palate-friendly tastes and cozy traditions. $9.95. 12411 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.591.6727; macysrestaurants.com/lsg

Jimmy’s Food and Drink

Construction is key when it comes to the perfect club sandwich, because often it can present a messy explosion requiring knife, fork and multiple napkins. Ideally a club sandwich consists of tidy, compact triangles secured with toothpicks, a sandwich that’s delicately moist rather than drippily juicy. The traditional center slice of bread may add traction, but for those of us who are carbophobic—and we are many—the third slice can represent a bit of overkill. Jimmy’s solves the conundrum handily by using a soft yet sturdy ciabatta roll that won’t scrape the roof of your mouth nor make you struggle to tear off a hunk. The real secret is the proper layering of the ingredients with respect to their inherent qualities: the tomato should go directly onto the bread where it won’t slip and can form a sort of “glue” for subsequent stacking. $10.95. 11000 Red Circle Dr., Minnetonka; 952.224.5858; jimmysfoodandcocktails.com


Maynard’s club sandwich is endearingly named after its hometown, perhaps because it takes a healthier road by forgoing the middle slice of bread and employing the service of hearty whole wheat. Less bread translates to more fillings, making for a delirious profusion of ham, turkey or cheddar in each satisfying mouthful. A zippy hit of mustard is the coup de grace. We always get a side of Maynard’s firecracker coleslaw: crunchy and not too sweet. $9.95. 685 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior; 952.470.1800; maynardsonline.com 



Spasso is ostensibly an Italian restaurant, but it puts its best foot forward with an admirable take on the oh-so-American club sandwich. Spasso’s entry into the clubhouse world boasts the thickest, smokiest and most toothsome bacon we’ve encountered on our club adventure, and what’s more, the application thereof was thrillingly generous. The kitchen went with a classic configuration of three slices of toasted multi-grain bread but threw in some ripe, soft avocado for a little California flair. The turkey itself is exceptional: fresh, clean and tender. How do you say clubhouse in Italian? $12. 17523 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.224.9555; spassomn.com 


The Narrows Saloon
We dubbed this clever club the sushi sandwich, which may sound suspect but is in fact a brilliant fusion of two classic flavor profiles. A generous slab of premier-grade ahi tuna is seared rare and matched with creamy sliced avocado, refreshing cucumbers and a sinus-sweeping wasabi cream sauce, smeared on top or provided on the side for dipping—your choice. There are three slices of multigrain bread cut into triangles just like a regular club, and you can have classic sides like fries, cole slaw, cottage cheese or sweet potato fries. Still skeptical? This is one of the best-sellers at the saloon, so they must be onto something. $13.50. 3380 Shoreline Dr., Navarre; 952.471.3352; thenarrowssaloon.com

Ike’s Food and Cocktails

The quality of the meat is what counts in this club sandwich. Ike’s uses small, local purveyors like Thielen’s, whose exceptional cured ham and intensely flavorful pecan-wood smoked bacon take center stage on toasted multi-grain bread with lettuce, sliced tomato and a tart lemon aioli. As with most orders at Ike’s, the portions are hefty, so you may want to share this monster with a friend, or bring half home later for those late-night munchies. $15.95. 17805 Highway 7, Minnetonka; 952.681.7099; ilikeikes.com



The pseudonym “grilled chicken Frisco” doesn’t fool us. All the hallmarks of a true club sandwich are present and accounted for in this scrumptious incarnation, including bacon, grilled sourdough, lettuce, tomato and onion. But things get exciting with the addition of a spicy Caribbean jerk-grilled chicken breast, stinky-in-a-good-way cambozola blue cheese and a hot-sweet orange chili sauce. It’s a club sandwich, sure, but one that’s been around the world and seen a thing or two. $10.95. 700 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.5253; sunsetsrestraurant.com