Restauranteur spends ridiculous amount of money and plops an upscale restaurant in the parking lot of a strip mall in one of the suburbs-of-all-suburbs in North America. What's your prediction? Me?? I was thinking steaks a la Outback, general suburban seafood just north of Red Lobster on the wow-meter, maybe even a few Macaroni Grillish pastas (mandatory limit of pasta and two additional ingredients none of which can be flavor).
Well...off to Copper Bleu to see for myself. Holy Mother of Newly Minted Abe Lincolns that's one ugly exterior! But once I got past the second set of double doors, I was blown away by how cool the inside of this place is. Copper Bleu is the architectural equivalent of Cosmos and the Weisman Art Museum having a baby. Dressed up in coffeehouse plush suede furniture and accessories from the funky section of Pottery Barn. Even the bar top is a beautiful wood piece, highlighted by the gorgeous shelves for the bottles and the striking, massive candleabra on one of the center tables.
Uh..Toto, I don't think we're in Lakeville any more.
Interior? Check. Now onto the food.
The claim is "American Bistro". OK. The *core* of the lengthy menu reads like your typical steaks, pasta, seafoods, and sandwiches place. You can check it out at www.copperbleu.com if you have the most recent Flash Player thingie. But what I appreciated was the lengthy list of "Small Plates" and "Side Orders", which ends up being a really, really, really lengthy list of stuff that's small and priced at around $5-10. And as you read this part of the menu more carefully, the atypical suburban restaurant qualities start to jump out:
Two, yes two different beet items ("Roasted Beets, Walnuts, Maytag Blue Cheese, and parmesan crisp" and "Buttered Sugar Beets with a touch of balsamic vinegar".) I really like beets and tasted both -- they were very good. But just the availability of beets on a menu (not a salad bar) in Lakeville scores points.
And things like Szechuan Green Beans, Pastrami Smoked Salmon, Seared Scallop Flat Bread, Wild Mushroom Polenta, Fresh Cream Style Corn, and Chilled Sesame Spinach were mingled in with the standard apps and sides. People at my table (large party) had the corn which was proclaimed as worthy of a trip to the place just for that. Scallop flat bread and green beans all got rave reviews. I had the Grilled Sea Scallop Skewers wrapped in bacon and served with an apricot chipotle sauce. Good quality scallops -- fresh and large. The sauce was fairly ordinary.
Order mashed potatoes and you get to experience another atypical dining event. The wait person rolls this cart with a burner and copper All-Clad pot over to your table and begins warming cream, smashing potatoes and mixing in any of the 8 available fillings you choose (i.e. bacon bits, cheese, horseradish, roasted garlic, chives, etc). We went kitchen sink. God bless cholesterol lowering medications. Great mashed potatoes.
Another highlight was the Seafood Pan Roast from the Soups. Made from scratch to order, it's ends up a delicious mix of lobster, shrimp, crab, garlic, white wine and cream. They could kick up the wine just a bit, but another satisfying dish uncommon in Minnesota.
I had the Char Crusted Rib Eye. On the menu, it says 20 oz. "Prime Rib" chop, served au jus. Well, kind of. It was an excellent, flavorful steak -- bone-in ribeye, but more on a thickened jus with cloves of roasted garlic. The steak was cooked perfectly to request (medium rare).
I tasted the Pecan Crusted Walleye, which was served in several smaller pieces covered in a maple butter glaze. Out of about 50-or-so available items on the menu, I would normally order walleye 49th (right before the chicken BLT). It was a little too much sweet glaze for the thin pieces of walleye.
The Prime Rib a couple of people ordered looked very nice -- thick, cooked as requested, and generously portioned. My wife's blue cheese crusted beef tenderloin was very good, although cooked just past the medium she ordered.
One major strike -- they were out of the Creme Brulee Chocolat which jumped out at me on the dessert menu. But, I guess I'll forgive them as the place was full on a Thursday night. They better have it next time, darn it. The Cheesecake I settled for was a perfectly acceptable second choice.
Service was suburban-atypically friendly and enthusiastic without losing their professionalism and competence.
After one visit, in my opinion this is far and away the most intriguing dining option in the Burnsville, Lakeville, Apple Valley, Farmington, etc. area. It's even a legit, hip south suburban dating spot -- they have intimate booths and a candle lit corner out of the way just off the bar. I can't wait for my wife and I to have another babysitter night.
As hard as it is for me to say this about a restaurant in a Lakeville strip mall parking lot, it could legitimately be worth the drive down Cedar from as far as Bloomington, Richfield, Eagan, and any other nearby place without quick access to downtown. Things might just be looking up down here in the south 'burbs.
17516 Dodd Blvd (intersection of Cedar Ave)