Flavor: Blue plate special

OK, citizens of Lowry Hill, the jig is up. No longer can you masquerade as the effete elite of local palates, not since The Lowry opened. You’ve been spotted occupying those close-to-200 seats like a squatter’s army in what used to be a movie-rental operation, chowing down, breakfast, lunch and dinner, on ol’-time diner food (albeit gentrified for our more patrician appetites). And the people-watching (“Can you believe she’s wearing that?”) surpasses any films formerly on offer.

Clearly, the neighborhood needed a clubhouse, and The Lowry, the latest filly in the Blue Plate Restaurant Company stable, fills the bill. No locovore pretensions, either — no organic this and micro that, just gi-normous portions of the kind of eats you’d find in a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. And, judging by the crowds vying for those booths and tables, that’s (to quote BHG arch rival, Martha) a good thing.

The menu leads off with sandwiches and burgers, including a couple your veteran fry cook never dreamed of — walleye, veggies, turkey ($10 range). And, what’s this? An oyster raw bar? Better believe it.

Next, more mainstream starters, including poutine, that proof on the plate that Canada is no culinary wasteland: a mess of fries (slim and unremarkable) in a mini-skillet sluiced with the customary gravy and cheese curds, then here glorified with goodly shards of tender, moist braised beef.

There’s also a winsome sausage and polenta combo, again big enough for sharing, featuring a nicely spicy Italian link aside bready polenta, all glorified by a dose of sweet and chunky San Marzano tomato sauce (apps from $2 for a devilled egg enriched with bacon and aioli to cheese curds with blueberry ketchup, $8).

Entrees ($10–15) lead off with the Blue Plate’s signature meatloaf — a disappointingly dry and monolithic version short on onion, tomato and intrigue. Better: a trio of fish tacos, the Item of the Moment on any new restaurant’s list. These are delicious. Tilapia, gently blackened for a nice little kick, joins forces with strings of Napa cabbage and avocado under a black bean/corn salsa. Or choose beef stroganoff, steak medallions with cheese pierogi, mac and cheese, etc.

The meal-size salads also caught our eye. We succumbed to the steak version, spotlighting ancho-rubbed shoulder meat in a “creamy chipotle dressing” that did little to liven the plate ($12). It’s served with a square of moist, sweet cornbread. The grilled veggie number, featuring the usual suspects, also lacked excitement. Seasonings to the rescue, please.

No need to save room for desserts, for there are only three, including the sole one made in-house, a banana cake. Or, how about some oatmeal flapjacks? Breakfast is served all day (that is, until 2 a.m., bless ’em). More attention went into the lovely list of micro-brews and creative cocktails (little wine of interest, however).

The Lowry
2112 Hennepin Ave. S.