I am happily embracing these dog days of summer. We’re finally getting some warm weather, blue skies, and sunshine to finish up the summer. Last Saturday, when the forecast read 80 and sunny, I set aside my growing list of house projects and drove over to Loring Kitchen & Bar for an afternoon in the sun.

Sign outside

Loring Kitchen (not to be confused with Loring Pasta Bar) was an easy choice. It’s spacious patio seating and open interior space would provide a cozy reading nook for my afternoon. Plus, I’d get to stroll through Loring Park a little on my way over.

I arrived at the beginning of Happy Hour (3 pm). The morning brunch crowd had cleared out and the dinner diners were hours away. Street parking was plentiful and I had my choice of tables to choose from. Loring Kitchen has two patios areas on the south side of the building and their indoor restaurant is lined with gigantic open doors that make you think twice about that simple question upon arrival: “Indoor or outdoor seating?”. Since patio season is short lived, I requested a seat in the sun. I’ll be back to enjoy the indoor seat by the doors on a blistery winter day.

Inside

As I wiggled around to find a comfortable reading position I observed the wait staff interacting with the other patrons around me – conversational, genuine, helpful. An encouraging scene, since I’d heard mixed reviews online  about the service at Loring. The negative reviews didn’t hold up to my excellent experience. I was seated quickly, brought water without having to ask, introduced to my cheerful server who sparked a brief conversation, and in general, saw a pleasant and positive staff which can make a world of difference to a guest.

Drink menu

Food menu

I looked over the Happy Hour menu, itching to try just about every option available. The $5 Sangria was tempting, but Fulton and Surly on tap for $3 won my vote.

I placed my food order early, anxious to open the pages of my half read book.

Beer

After about 15 minutes of sipping Fulton, feet up, getting lost in my book, my food arrived. I had limited myself to just three of the happy hour food options, but it wasn’t easy.

Item #1: Walleye Slider ($4). The presentation had me a little worried, not sure the taste would live up to my expectations, but my first bite proved that looks can be deceiving. Instead of a plain, flavorless slider, I tasted a flaky, thick layer of seared walleye on a toasted bun with some zippy jalapeno tartar sauce. Needless to say, I devoured it in no time. Onto the next!

Walleye slider

Item #2: Black Bean Quinoa Slider ($3). I’m a big fan of veggie patties, but they’ve gotta have a flavorful sauce to add some moisture and texture to each bite. The ancho mayo on my quinoa slider was just what those black beans needed. And the grilled peppers and greens rounded out the burger, making it a deliciously filling item for just $3. The only mistake, in my opinion, was the uninspired wheat buns; a little cafeteria-like.

Quinoa slider

Item #3: Mixed Green Salad ($6). My small plate of salad was filled with mixed greens, fresh cucumbers, juicy cherry tomatoes, red onions, and a nice portion of croutons. The salad was great, especially with the light vinegrette, but not what I expected for $6 on happy hour. A little small, right? Luckily, I was already content after my filling sliders, so I packed up most of the salad to take home for later.

Salad

I ordered another $3 beer, Surly this time, to enjoy while finishing up my book. My observant waitress stopped over to bring the check and box up my salad – again, nothing but great service during my visit on Saturday. I ran my card for $21 – two yummy beers, two sliders, and a side salad enjoyed over an afternoon in the sun. Not bad.

I didn’t want to leave my comfortable reading nook, but a stroll in the park was calling my name. Make sure to take your time at Loring Park before or after your visit; it’s absolutely charming.

 

Overall, I had a great time at Loring Kitchen & Bar. The happy hour had tons of great options – some cheap, some fancy, some classics, but all around delicious. I’m looking forward to going again before the weather changes for a summer sangria and the cauliflower fritters.

Atmosphere
Spacious patio seating, surrounded by blossoming flowers overlooking Loring Park.

Service
A+. They worked hard to do their job without giving off that stressed or tired vibe that so many servers do.

Presentation
Room for improvement. 

Taste
Happy Hour-licious. I would have eaten three more of those sliders if I had the room!

Value for Dollars
You’ve got options! You can go cheap and get some great food and drinks. Or you can have a more extravagant experience, with great food and drinks, too. Good deals with clear price points to help you make your decision.

But don’t take my word for it…

Loring Kitchen & Bar

Happy Hour: Daily, 3-6 pm, 9 pm-close
1359 Willow St
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 843-0400
www.loringkitchen.com
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