NISSWA — While not native to the Brainerd lakes area, Jake’s City Grille has established strong roots in the region.
Jake’s ability to immerse itself into the local cuisine culture is helped by its relaxed, casual atmosphere in an area known more for its large Gull Lake homes and expansive resorts.
But Jake’s best calling card is the food and common themes, done uncommonly well.
A quick glance at the appetizer menu gives evidence to variety, cultural diversity and an opportunity to explore a range of flavors.
For example, the lettuce wraps feature chicken, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and scallions in oyster sauce served with bibb lettuce and crispy noodles. Or the Asian pan fried dumplings, which are pork and vegetable potstickers served with Asian dipping sauce.
If Asian isn’t your fare, try a grilled bruschetta with fresh mozzarella, balsamic tomatoes, fresh basil, goat cheese, kalamata olives, sweet onions and olive oil drizzled with balsamic reduction.
Pizza poppers, quesadillas, beer-battered onion rings and mushrooms, Panko crusted chicken strips and wings are also available.
This night the seared Ahi tuna was calling. For $13.95 it’s the most expensive appetizer item along with the prime bites, which are seared skewers of prime rib, mushrooms and onions brushed with JakeSauce and served with bleu cheese dip. The tuna, was prepared well and crusted with white and black sesame. The dish comes with pickled ginger, Wasabi and Asian dipping sauce.
The plate is not as attractive as Madden’s Classic Grill’s tuna dish or the portions as large, but it’s $3 less in price.
The black Angus burgers are made to order and, like the chicken sandwiches, have an assortment of toppings, plus, a heaping serving of french fries. I chose The Jake, which is spiced and glazed in JakeSauce and topped with cheddar and crispy onion strings.
The burger, ordered medium rare, was messy and delicious so it was made right. The burgers and sandwiches are priced from $11.50 to $10.25.
Salads range from the ordinary for $5.95 to the less than ordinary — a cilantro lime chicken salad goes for $12.50, while a cedar plank salmon salad ($13.95) and an Ahi tuna spinach salad ($14.95) are more expensive.
A shrimp and sausage chowder and Jake’s red chili are the daily soup items along with an assortment of wood-fired pizzas and smoked meat entrees, which are smoked in Jake’s own smoke pit.
There is a Tex-Mex selection with tilapia tacos, lobster tacos and fajitas as well as a selection of pasta to choose from.
Specialty sandwiches range from $8.95 for a BLT to $13.95 for a crispy walleye or a Philly-style sandwich.
Jake’s favorites are the glazed pork chops, herb roasted chicken, garlic lemon chicken kabobs, cowboy ribeye steak, beef tenderloin filet, bourbon shrimp, pecan crusted walleye and salmon. The entrees range from $14.95 to $25.95.
Jake’s prices fit between the higher-end dining establishments and the less expensive restaurants as does the food. It would be fair to say, Jake’s City Grille is not fine dining, but the food is close.
Oh, and yes, there is a large selection of desserts, but sadly I ate all my appetizer, my burger all those fries and had no room remaining for dessert.
It’s just another reason to go back for more.