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Perfect Duluth Restaurant: Lake Avenue Restaurant and Bar

Though it’s been lauded in Twin Cities publications for years, surprisingly Lake Avenue Restaurant and Bar hasn’t won any local accolades for its cuisine. Until now.

In Perfect Duluth Day’s poll to name the Perfect Duluth Restaurant, Lake Avenue emerged as the clear winner with 48.3 percent of the vote among the top three.

Co-owner Derek Snyder says he was “super surprised and flattered” his restaurant won the poll.

“A lot of Duluthians still don’t know about us,” he said.

Snyder and Mark Swenson bought the restaurant in 2009; it has existed for 27 years and was previously known as Lake Avenue Café.

“We’ve been around for a long time. It’s cool to have that kind of staying power,” says Snyder.

Photo by Lissa Maki

The eatery, located within Canal Park’s DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, bills itself as “Duluth dining at its most creative.” Lake Avenue offers upscale dining options worthy of a special occasion but also cultivates an atmosphere that’s conducive to a casual happy hour.

It features a seasonally-shifting menu with locally sourced ingredients. Its marketing urges patrons to “eat something new tonight.”

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and has happy hour and late-night menus. It accommodates carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike. Snyder notes that chefs are willing to adapt dishes for those with dietary restrictions, especially with advance notice.

Lake Avenue was recently renovated with new tables and booths comprised of reclaimed timber. It also added a deck.

A revamped menu was just released that features some hearty, cold-weather fare like duck confit pot pie and braised beef short ribs from Yker Acres. The bar has an impressive array of rotating wines and local craft beers as well as creative cocktails.

Although some people might be frustrated to see their favorite dish leave the menu, this continual reinvention is part of the place’s charm.

“It feels like a new restaurant every six months,” says Snyder. “There’s something new to fall in love with.”

Laura Haack, one of Lake Avenue’s longtime employees, just bought into the restaurant’s ownership. Snyder says he’s been excited to see the new partner injecting her energy and passion into the establishment. “I think we’re serving some of the best food we ever have,” he says.

Eighteen contenders, all nominated by readers, were vying for the Perfect Duluth Restaurant title. The poll was eventually narrowed down to three finalists. Honorable mentions are Va Bene Caffe, which received 26.4 percent of votes, and Duluth Grill, which claimed 25.3 percent.

Previous winner:
New Scenic Café (2013)

PDD Awards Index

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