A few weeks ago, Travel+Leisure online posted an article listing the best French Fries (or pommes frites, or freedom fries, depending on your particular terminology) in the US. St. Paul’s Amsterdam Bar and Hall made the list with taters fitting this description: “The hearty skin-on fries are served Amsterdam-style: topped with chopped raw onions and an array of dipping sauces including curry mayo, peanut satay, and a honey-sambal sweet chile sauce.” I was immediately hungry. Still, I trust the opinions of my network of friends, so I posed the best-Twin-Cities-fries question to them. My friend Dana suggested The Kenwood Restaurant, and we made a date for Sunday brunch.
After a delicious meal (the fries were divine, and definitely get my vote!), I decided to explore the neighborhood more. I’ve walked and run around, and cross country skied and ice skated on nearby Lake of the Isles many times; I’ve taken dogs to the off-leash dog park (which has separate areas for big and small pups), participated in the annual Loppet… but I haven’t explored the shops near The Kenwood, across from the Kenwood Elementary School, at the intersection of West 21st Street and Penn Avenue South. In addition to the restaurant, there's a frame shop, a kids' art workshop, and Birchbark Books & Native Arts, Louise Erdrich's bookstore (I highly recommend a visit--supporting local business is always good, and there are some very cool artifacts and crafts inside!).
From top right: Louise Erdrich's bookstore, Birchbark--exterior and interior; The Kenwood Restaurant; rentable canoe/kayak racks; view of downtown Minneapolis near off-leash dog park.
If you’ve never explored this part of the city, it’s worth making sure your phone or GPS is well charged—you will be distracted by the mix of modern and historic homes, and the winding jumble of alleys and one-way streets will lead you in circles.
The neighborhoods here—Kenwood, East Isles, and Cedar-Isles-Dean—are nestled between lakes: Isles is in the middle, with Calhoun to the South, and Cedar to the West. This is one of the most affluent areas in the Twin Cities, boasting lakefront homes owned by local celebrities including one-third Twins baseball team owner, Bill Pohlad, and Josh Hartnett (though I think he sold his Isles house, there’s surprisingly little information about Hartnett’s MN residence online), plus the odd news anchor and CEO.
In addition to beautifully preserved and updated old houses, wooded land, bridges and canals, there are also myriad bike trails—Kenilworth, Midtown Greenway, Cedar Lake, Grand Rounds—converted from railroad beds (possibly to be re-converted as part of the controversial Southwest Corridor LRT between Eden Prairie and downtown Minneapolis).
According to the Minneapolis Park Board website, the lake itself was engineered in the early part of the 20th Century. The Park Board dredged what was originally a shallow lake and marsh complex—called Wita Tomna meaning "Four Islands Lake" by the local Dakota people--and used the dredged material to create parkland and ultimately, a stately and picturesque park. Surrounded by 36 acres of park land, including biking and walking paths, an off-leash dog park and rentable canoe/kayak racks, Isles can leave you feeling miles away from everything, yet it’s within minutes of major freeways (94, 394, 35W) and next door to both Uptown and downtown. With so much in such a compact space, it’s no wonder the neighborhoods near Lake of the Isles are so coveted!
Licensed Associate Working with Sharlene Hensrud of RE/MAX Results, and HomesMSP — Sharlene, John, Angela