Monday, June 6, 2011

A (mostly) leisurely South Minneapolis bike and bistro tour

A flowering tree at the Lyndale Peace Garden (rock garden)
Last Tuesday was our wedding anniversary, so Craig took the day off from work and we planned a day of leisurely bike riding, ending with dinner at Cafe Maude in SW Minneapolis's Armitage neighborhood. We chose Cafe Maude not only because it is a very nice restaurant and we especially love their lamb skewer appetizers, but also because going there by bicycle means following the bike trail along Minnehaha Creek for most of the way.

Never mind that we chose to head west on a day when winds from that direction were averaging 25–35 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph! (Hence the "mostly leisurely" reference.) I kept thinking that once we got down by the creek and more or less into the woods, the wind would be buffered. But not so much. And, of course, the creek being in something of a valley through the city, as soon as we parted from the bike path to head into a neighborhood, we had a steep uphill climb. So, we got a good workout as well.

We left before noon and stopped first at Patisserie 46 at 46th and Grand where we shared a sandwich and salad for a light lunch. Just as we approached the counter, the barista announced that he had made an extra latte by mistake, and he offered it to us. That plus a delicious chocolate chip cookie make a very lovely dessert. After browsing a cute and friendly gift shop at 48th and Grand called A Little Bird, which featured a chic/trendy mix of old and new items, we headed over to the Roberts Bird Sanctuary by Lake Harriet for a stroll.

Roberts Bird Sanctuary on May 31
All of our recent rains had rendered parts of the sanctuary more like a bayou, and in places the plank path along what should have been the edge of the bog was either submerged or squelching mud when we tried to walk on it, so we turned back and chose an upland route instead.
Jack in the pulpit in the bird sanctuary

The overhead branches of aspen and cottonwood swayed vigorously in the wind, and may have blown the birds away! The only one I recall spotting was a glimpse as we were leaving, shaped like a black-crowned night heron but smaller; I didn't get a good enough look at it to ID it. We did see of lot of jack-in-the-pulpit, with its huge leaves and distinct hooded spadix, and it was a pleasant walk anyway, despite the mud and absence of birds.

It was still too early for dinner, even after our stroll through the bird sanctuary was followed by a walk in the rock garden, so we pedaled uphill again into Linden Hills to Cafe Twenty-eight to enjoy a cold drink and a snack. After lingering on their outdoor patio for an hour or more, we rode to the Paperback Exchange used-book shop on 50th and Penn, where Craig found a Barbara Kingsolver book (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) and I found a few gems, including Words Fail Me by Patricia T. O'Conner, to add to my collection of language usage books.

Cafe 28 in Linden Hills
We arrived at Cafe Maude in time for their "leisure hour" specials on our salads and wine. We then split the lamb skewers appetizer and a steak dinner (splitting everything so as to pace ourselves, still), but didn't stay for dessert. Instead, we headed back east along the creek, with the still-strong wind at our backs this time, and finished the evening at Three Tiers Bakery Bistro in what Craig likes to call "downtown" Nokomis, for a couple of petits fours and some rhubarb sauce over house-made vanilla ice cream. We thought we had carefully paced our eating, but we were quite stuffed after that!

In the whole day, we had probably biked about 14 miles total, not exactly an ambitious day of bike riding. It really felt like we had spent the day as tourists in our own town, appreciating a few of the delightful cafes and bistros and bike paths and serene natural spots that Minneapolis has to offer.


  1. What a great day and what nice stops you made- made me miss the city a bit but not today as you are in weather hell as far as I am concerned- 90s and high dew points- we are warm for us even up here- upper 80s. This morning I made a killer gazpacho and a chicken curry salad with grapes and pecans- wish you two could come over and enjoy it with us!

  2. Happy anniversary, and your post made me miss Mpls as well, especially the biking. And yes, you are in weather hell. I checked the temperature there last night at 10 pm -- according to my phone, it was still 98! It might not be the end of the world, but it feels like it.

  3. Leisurely bike riding is such a lovely way to spend and anniversary. I know I'd be happy at each of your stops.


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