Lindey's Prime Steak House (Arden Hills, MN)
Time capsules are fascinating. They're messages from the past that show us what was important to those who came before us. Places can be time capsules, too: unchanging peeks into a world that now exists only in memory and other out-of-the-way places. If you want to visit a time capsule, eat at Lindey's.
The menu couldn't be simpler, and that is part of its timeless appeal. It's painted on a board brought to your table: Lindey's Special Prime Sirloin, Prime Sirloin, or Chopped Sirloin. Each entree comes with salad, hash browns, watermelon pickle, and garlic bread. Sautéed mushrooms are available for a surcharge.
Steak is the star at Lindey's, and it's cooked absolutely perfectly. Cut and plated tableside, it's a well-aged, tasty piece of beef.
The prime sirloin is good, but if you like your steak rare or medium rare we think the special prime sirloin is worth the extra dollar. It's a more tender cut, and the lightly cooked meat is much better. If you're ordering more towards well-done, just get the less expensive cut. We couldn't tell the difference when both were cooked medium-well.
The chopped sirloin is gently ground, not milled to mush like so much grocery-counter burger. You can also order it as a hamburger.
The optional side of mushrooms is huge, plenty for sharing, but its nostalgic charm stopped just this side of the can the mushrooms came in.
Back when we were kids, salad meant iceberg lettuce. The classic salad was often topped with thousand island dressing, and Lindey's serves a good, homemade version. Though long since pushed aside by the public's affection for romaine, mesclun, and microgreens, the uniquely satisfying crunch of plain iceberg lettuce is comfort food.
The all-you-can-eat potato side is called greaseless hash browns in the Lindey's vernacular, but they sure looked liked mashed potatoes to us. They were good, too, with a light rosemary flavor. We'd rather have a richer dish, with plenty of butter and cream worked in, but these were okay.
You're also served an unlimited supply of garlic bread. We were certain that Lindey's garlic toast was their solution to the old problem of hot dogs being sold in packages of eight and buns being sold in packages of ten.
Lindy's has a full bar. Cocktails are available, as well as beer and wine. The wine is brought in carafes, and you can chose merlot, cabernet, and a few other kinds. Our waitress told us that the beer came in bottles, but seemed not to know what kind of beer was on hand.
Your dessert option is cheesecake, with or without strawberry topping.
With its knotty pine décor, and solid wood tables, Lindey's has an up-north ambience that we liked. It's very much a country roadhouse that's found itself encroached on by the sprawling suburbs.
Lindey's is the least ironic restaurant we've ever been to. Completely unsentimental, its tried-and-true formula doesn't compete in today's foodie culture. It simply soldiers on, a time capsule from the era of skinny ties.
3610 Old Snelling Avenue North, Arden Hills
Hours: 11-3, 5-10 Mon-Sat
Sound level: Noisy when crowded
Recommended dishes: Special prime sirloin
Prices: Entrees $5–8 lunch, $24 dinner
Children: No special children's menu