Eat Shop in Plymouth

Eat Shop Kitchen/Bar Exterior

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

You might think, as I had hoped, that there was some “shopping” component to Eat Shop, the vast new eatery in the swankier part of Plymouth. No. No deli, no displays of olive oil and vinegar and fancy crackers and salt. No shopping.

That out of the way, we can get down to the “eating” part: It’s pretty darn good. And a bit of a revelation for a snobby city girl like myself.

Our server (who was certainly young enough to “ma’am” a couple of moms, but self-consciously and charmingly “miss-ed” us the whole time) took great pains to tell us that everything is made on site. Even the salad dressings. Even the sauces. They even cut their own fries. The only thing they did not do in house, he stressed, was cut their own meat. It’s natural, of course, that in a new restaurant a server will take extra time to introduce the house style to patrons.

But it made me smile.

Eat Shop Kitchen/Bar Interior

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

I don’t want to make this about the ‘burbs versus the city, although Eat Shop has a very, very suburban location (in a higher-end strip mall) and will likely have a very, very suburban clientele. I don’t want to make this about foodies versus … everybody with better things to do with their time.

Instead, let’s make this about my own education and shortsightedness: Holy cow, there are people working in food for whom the mixing of olive oil, vinegar, and herbs for dressing is a revelation. A selling point. Not to be taken for granted. And there are people who plunk down significant money for restaurant meals fairly regularly for whom this is also true. (Not all these people live in the ‘burbs, let me stress.)

And here, in Eat Shop’s massive dining room — with its big, polished tables, deep red booths, and open kitchen, all shiny with stainless steel — the words “house-made vinaigrette” may now become a tautology for some of them. To be taken for granted. Frozen fries and shrimp poppers off a Sysco truck will lose their shine. They’ll start noticing the quality of the bun on their burger.

And that’s awesome.

While of course there are plenty of fantastic restaurants for people who already care about these things, Eat Shop uniquely has the size, location, and atmosphere to bring in people who don’t yet know that they care about these things. Or maybe they’ll decide they still don’t care about these things, but, yeah, the mustard vinaigrette at Eat Shop is really pretty good. And that’s cool, too.

So, where were we? Yes. The food.

The menu is relatively brief: a half dozen “small plates” (which, in a couple of years, will be what we all used to call “appetizers”), half dozen salads, half dozen sandwiches, half dozen entrees. No Crave-length odyssey around the world’s cuisines here.

Eat Shop Kitchen/Bar Pretzels

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The trendiest choices you’ll find are the Eat Plate ($17, charcuterie — yes, house-made — generously sized, with bologna, ham, sausage, and pickled fish) and pretzel sticks ($8). (Pretzels are everywhere lately, have you noticed?) These are warm, chewy, and flavorful, but they could use a good deal more pretzel-ly crust. The beer-cheese sauce actually tastes like beer – Summit Pale Ale to be specific – and that’s a good thing. It’s a little gritty, the way these things are when they’re made in a kitchen, not a factory.

Everything else is straight-up, homey, familiar American cuisine. From roast chicken to pork chops to big (big) hearty salads.

Eat Shop Kitchen/Bar Ugly Chicken

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The Ugly Chicken ($15) is named for the bird itself, a petite breed known as a naked neck, raised in Ashby, MN. These birds (who have a strangely loyal following among bird fanciers) don’t have any feathers from their shoulders up to their beaks. A strange sight. But once it hits the plate, it’s not ugly at all. We got a quarter chicken — thigh, leg, and wing, but these are small birds, so it wasn’t too much meat at all — roasted, juicy, with a crispy skin and a nice hit of herbs. (Unfortunately, on one visit, the kitchen, so wary of overcooked chicken, undercooked ours. It happens.) The hot chicken sat on a bed of cold, dressed baby arugula, with bits of soft roasted sweet potato. A simple, homey dish.

The Green Chile Pork Sandwich ($12) was a whole lot more complex than anything you’d make at home. Big chunks of very pork-y pork in a mild chile sauce, layered with super-thin onion rings, a mild slaw, tomatoes described as “melted” that must have been griddled in oil, and some entirely extraneous avocado. All on a — say it with me — house-made bun, soft but substantial. (Imagine making that sandwich at home: You’d give up halfway through and just roast a chicken.)

Eat Shop Kitchen/Bar Pork Sandwich

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The fries on the side were good. No complaints. Cut thin and long (but thicker than shoestring), skin on, crispy, but still blonde. Competent fries. The most surprising thing we tried came in a little steel dish alongside — the house-made ketchup. Only, it wasn’t ketchup. It was (practically) raw crushed tomatoes with a strong flavor of smoke. It was a jolt at first — Hey! Where’s my ketchup? — but it grew on us. And soon we were finishing it up with the last of the fries.

And we remembered our young server, emphasizing that every last thing Eat Shop serves is made in house. And how we thought, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do you really want extra points for making vinaigrette?” But he meant right down to the smoky, idiosyncratic ketchup. House-made. All of it. Out here in the ‘burbs.

Eat Shop
American casual in Plymouth

16605 County Rd 24 (Hwy 55)
Plymouth, MN 55447
763.270.5929

HOURS:
Mon-Thurs 11am-close
Fri 11am-1am
Sat 10am-1am
Sun 10am-close

CHEF / OWNER: Jeff Anderson / Flying Swine LLC
BAR: Full
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: If you like salads

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About the Author

Tricia Cornell

Tricia has been called the mother of “world-class veggie eaters” in the Star Tribune (that is patently untrue) and an “industrious home cook” in the New York Times (true, but was it a compliment?). She loves Brussels sprouts, hates squash, and would choose salty and sour flavors over sweet just about any day. She is the author of Eat More Vegetables, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2012, and The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook, published by Voyageur Press in 2014.

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16 Comments

  1. I’m so tired of the scorn city dwellers heap on the suburbs. How did emphasizing that scorn contribute in any meaningful way to this review?

  2. If the beer cheese sauce is “gritty”, that means the chef curdled the cheese by having the liquid too hot. You learn that in Culinary 101.

  3. Stacey’s right. I’ve lived in both environs and when you grow up maybe you’ll realize people aren’t so different after all. Your snobishness ruined the review.

  4. Been there, loved it. Nearly licked the duck bacon vinaigrette off of my salad plate.

    As for the reviewer, she said she didn’t have anything else to do with her time. Hence she is a snob.

  5. This is an outstandingly pretentious, elitist review. What’s more, the author clearly recognized this and tried to make it seem OK by acknowledging it in the review.

    I’m not sure why the author had to spend so much time conveying her incredulity at realizing some people aren’t in fact used to eating house-made vinaigrettes. Perhaps it was to demonstrate her superior taste in food and dining establishments. In any case, this attitude comes off as ridiculous and petty. Surely the author is aware that some people don’t have regular access to salad, full stop, let alone salad with fancy dressing. Surely the author realizes that some people don’t get sufficient or healthy food at all.

    In any case, these points ought to be well beyond the scope of any reasonable restaurant review. But by using her ‘shortsightedness’ as a way to smugly demonstrate superiority, the author opens herself up to further ‘educational’ opportunities. Here’s one: not everyone is as privileged as you are. If you can’t understand that maybe you shouldn’t deign to eat at and review this sort of establishment instead of writing about how puzzling the whole experience is for you.

    Also, tautology doesn’t mean what you think it does.

  6. morchella10/08/2012Reply

    Your description of the server reminded me when Rosa Mexicano opened and I asked our server if the tea was black tea. He said, “No. It’s kind of browninsh.”

  7. I’m curious: Do you disagree that there is a difference in dining culture that very roughly corresponds to municipal boundaries? How would you describe that difference?

    (The person who entered your email address as “fuck@you.com” will most likely not be getting notifications of followup comments via email, so we won’t be hearing from you.)

  8. Dining culture? That’s rich.

  9. splatgirl10/08/2012Reply

    I just took note of this place over the weekend. Thanks for the more-informative-than-urbanspoon review which was all I had been able to find. I appreciate the 100% from scratch thing, but IMO the menu looks mundane enough that it misses pushing foodie buttons while at the same time being outside the box and priced high enough to turn off the (stereo)typical suburban dining demographic. The last resto attempts in that space have failed in short order, so it will be interesting to see. It’s a weird spot that is more of a pass through, office park/manufacturing-ville lunch locale than a dinner destination unless they can capitalize on the movie theater traffic from one intersection up. If it’s anything like the (decent) Ketsana’s Thai a couple doors down, the would do well to really work the takeout aspect.

    And I’m curious too–are the presumed urban/suburban differences in restaurant and dining culture cause or effect?
    Are food snob friendly restaurants in the city patronized mostly by city residents? Could it have more to do with economics?

  10. Lol! Lots of miffy suburbanites on here meowing! If you are all sooooo upset by some mere words, then move to the city. DUH. The reviewer isn’t saying anything about YOU specifically, it is about the kinds of restaurants one typically finds in the burbs. Like Applebees. The best way to lose the “scorn” (still giggling) associated with crappy suburb restaurants and food IS TO NOT GO TO THEM, even if your lazy butt doesn’t want to drive 20 minutes into the city to find a restaurant that you do want to eat at. For me, having awesome restaurant food options is important enough to me that I have to live in the city. I grew up in the burbs, so I know. They blow.

    I derived all I need to know about the place reviewed, so from that standpoint, mission accomplished. If for some godforsaken reason I find myself stuck in Plymouth and hungry, I just may try it. I’ll giggle too, much like the reviewer, if they repeatedly stress that things are homemade. Cause it’s funny. It’s funny that society has let things get to the point where someone making something themselves – AND THEY HAVE A RESTAURANT – is somehow something special. Well, in the suburbs anyhow.. hahahahaha. Ahhh. Couldn’t resist that one.

    And tautology was used correctly for my brain, sad. Doesn’t matter though. I find you to be weird.

  11. It seems more and more of the “IN BRIEF” reviews are looking more like “IN DEPTH” reviews. Please think about changing the length of one or the other, OR adding rating system to the “IN BREIF” reviews. It would be nice to somewhat sort thought the growing list of “IN BREIF”

  12. Apparently some folks feel that simply suggesting that there might be a difference between urban and suburban sensibilities and dining expectations is elitist or condescending. From my raised-in-the-burbs, came-of-age-in-the- city, now-a-country-bumpkin perspective, Tricia’s review was informative and generous. What struck me was 1) The obnoxious slogan on the wall–is the place jonesing to be franchised?–and 2) The crazy prices–8 bucks for pretzel sticks? People know that’s bread and a little dip, right? Yikes. Out here in God’s (or someone’s) Country, you get a full roast beef or chicken dinner for that.

    There was no scorn expressed in this review. Bemusement is more like it.

    Cheers~ Brett

  13. I live a short distance from this place. I was excited to have a new non-chain restaurant open in this area. I immediately “liked” them on facebook to stay informed of their opening date and preview their menu. We went to dinner there on a week night shortly after they opened. I was disappointed and even more disappointed given the price.

    We started with the pretzel sticks and cheese sauce. I agree that they needed more pretzel-ly crust. The cheese was bland (I tasted no beer) and it was gritty.

    Onto the main course – I had the ugly chicken and it was tough – the kind of tough that needs a steak knife (probably overcooked). The sweet potatoes were unevenly cooked; some just right and some undercooked. My husband had the filet; at $31 you are better off going to Pittsburg Blue which is also in the suburbs.

    After a disappointing small plate and entrée, it was onto dessert. Surely they could not mess up dessert, right? It was another disappointment. We had the brandy almond ice cream; I tasted no notes of almond or brandy. Husband agreed, tasted like vanilla. (I *do* have taste buds – the following week we ate at Ciao Bella and had their gelato for dessert – could taste the amaretto, cinnamon, and fresh vanilla bean in each one).

    Very rarely do I share my dining opinion but I am sharing this one in hopes Eat Shop improves and can stick around for a while.
    And to the writer and others, the suburbs do offer some great dining options. Not as many as the cities, but still some really great places. I encourage you to read the latest Maple Grove magazine that discuss this very topic: http://maplegrovemag.com/article/arnaud-de-rambures/local-chefs-dish-maple-grove-dining-scene

  14. We went once as a foursome then our friends went back with a larger family. There were a total of 4 hamburgers ordered and not one came, done the way it was ordered. Not even close. They need someone who knows how to make a burger correctly. Is that so hard when 80% of all orders are for burgers? I will go back. I liked the place. They need to work out the “kinks”. Staff was very nice. Managers were very nice.

  15. I watched Senser’s close in this location, aweful location! Watched thousands of dollars of renovation go into this site. I was thinking to myself if I could only have all that money they spent and give the new owners 20% of their investment back in a year we would all be a head. Good luck! Closed by April 4/13….if not sooner! Where oh where is your demographic research????

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