610 W. Lake St.
They’re calling it Prairie Dogs, but not to worry: no rodents on a stick (…. yet). Minnesota-raised pork, beef, lamb and chicken fill the casings of Lyn-Lake’s new, gourmet sausage-centric dining op. (No! I didn’t sink to “haute dog.” That’s the journalistic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.) Let’s hear it from the owner’s own verbalese, which anoints it a “brand-new way to serve and eat encased meat.”
Which means, it’s not your Granny’s wienie.
No Heinz on the tables, either. Ketchup? That’s so ballpark. Instead, think sriracha aioli, salsa verde, foie gras gravy. And that, my dears, is exactly where to start. Hold off on the sausages for a minute and summon the foietine ($11). Big enough for sharing (but that’ s carrying the Golden Rule too far), foie gras gravy sanctifies a heap of slender French fries — twice-fried, in fact, to fend off sogginess — sown with threads of juicy, long-braised lamb neck and a toss of cheese curds melting their way to heaven.
Limbered up for our dogs, we whistled for the spicy merguez number ($9), a supremely tasty, roundly seasoned and robustly built link. It’s loaded with piquillo peppers, tiny bricks of feta, and a schmear of mint aioli (too sparing), on — OK, here’s the dumb part — a flimsy, unremarkable bun (Pita, maybe? Just a thought). Anyway: Morocco invades Lake Street, a swell culinary version of our own Arab Spring.
What next? The list is long, from a custom-coutured brat to the “Pig Easy” (boudin, one of Louisiana’s favored food groups) with cracklings. A Mexican creation. The All-American, composed of pork belly, fried potatoes and fried egg. The Smoked Polish with beet relish.
We chose the Bahn Mi Joy Dog ($8). Picture this: char siu pork consorting with a slab of chicken liver pate atop a faint whisper of shoyu mayo and japalenos, under an avalanche of pickled carrots and daikon that overpowered everything on the table.
Setting it aside, we turned our gluttony to a better use of those raw materials: this time, a brioche bun supporting a mating of pork belly and beef pattie — both the better for a hoisin glaze and lick of sriracha aioli, and supporting, again, a whole lot of pickled carrots and daikon. Or go for a bare-naked dog and customize it with aspirational add-ons.
Ready to serve as a first responder’s resuscitating device is a couple of coleslaw options. The prairie slaw showcases ultra-crisp and colorful strands of snappy veggies heavily dosed with celery seed, while the apple-infused version — definitely the go-to choice—pairs cabbage’s native sharpness with batons of sweet green apple. High five for that one. The kitchen’s bread-and-butter pickles hit the target, too.
Who needs dessert? Right: nobody. So with a good conscience, skip the shakes and ice cream that constitute the café’s finale. Oh, wait! There is a shake called S’mores & Bacon. Let me rethink that.