Clear sailing

We forgot to order coffee.

That’s how much Muddy Waters has changed in its five-block move uptown in Uptown — and if this is what gentrification feels like, I’m all for it.

Inside the new Lyn-Lake space, it’s still a setting of grunge-meets-industrial chic, with a barista manning the coffee counter, as before. But facing that fount of caffeine now stands a full bar, and by full, we’re talking 30 taps — grand ones! — as well as cocktails for the après-Jungle crowd spilling from the neighboring theater, extending Muddy’s former punk-rock demographic (no worries; they’ve made the journey, too).

Outside, an alleyway passage provides primo gazing at the sidewalk traffic while lounging under black umbrellas, twinkle lights and the even more radiant smile of co-owner Sarah Schranz, our server. She treats everyone within its radiance as pampered houseguests, recommending brews from the well-curated list: cans, bottles and those that flow from the taps. Our faves (so far): the dark and malty Tallgrass Buffalo Sweet and the lighter, crisper Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale. (They were out of the one called Schaudenfreude, but who wouldn’t order it for psycho-bragging rights alone?)

And nowadays, there’s food. Is there ever! We loved everything we got our mitts on and can’t wait to come back for more. First, the pot roast sliders (apps to share $6–11), loaded with fall-apart tender, Surly Bender-braised meat licked with horseradish and served on toasted buns with a side of housemade bread-and-butter pickles. Just wonderful. (If it hadn’t been a hundred degrees, we would have ordered the pot roast entrée, $16, served with polenta, bacon and Swiss chard.)

Next, a cool bowl of summer borscht — a sweet, ruby liquid dotted with sour cream and sprig of dill (good, but on a single note; could have benefited from, say, onion). Next, the fish tacos, which should be required eating for anyone crossing the doorway. These sumptuous babes, built on a bun of character, are loaded, absolutely loaded, with sweet, moist mahi (from Coastal Seafoods, says Sarah) in a light tempura net laced with Brooklyn Lager. They’re abetted with a crisp crunch of cabbage, a drizzle of crema and a squirt of lime. Perfect.

Well, so was the rock shrimp po’ boy from the sandwich list ($5–8). And those buxom crustaceons couldn’t have been sweeter. They’re (wisely) joined by bits of apple and more cabbage and baptized (yes, it gets even better) with a shot of sweet and jumpin’ sriracha aioli.

There’s also a pear and brie sandwich, served with Lambic mustard (and bacon, if you choose) and the Muddy burger, which includes chicken-fried bacon, onions, blue cheese and barbecue sauce. By the way, we were offered a different vegetarian/vegan menu when we entered, another nice touch.

Alas, there are desserts, and alas again, they’re terrific, so no excuses, folks. Choosing from a list that highlights cappuccino semifreddo, chocolate torte with Bourbon-toffee sauce, gingersnap banana pudding and homemade cookies, we summoned the strawberry-rhubarb cobbler. It’s a nicely tart mix of fruit under plentiful batter with a pinch of pepper in it and a topknot of unsweetened (thanks!) whipped cream. Nice, but not over the top.

Of course, the place still serves breakfast pastries and stays open till 2 a.m., proving that life, indeed, is beautiful.

Muddy Waters
2933 Lyndale Ave. S.