Lucky Oven Bakery in Armatage, Minneapolis

 

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Red Wagon Pizza has been living in the shadow of the not-so-far-away Pizzeria Lola and the whole Ann Kim empire since its birth in 2014, and that’s a shame. It’s a remarkably consistent and well-loved spot, a reliable dynamo of both comfort and innovation. And it should come as no surprise to fans of the spot that when Kristy Dirk, a longtime Red Wagon pastry chef, spun off her own breakfast restaurant and bakery, called Lucky Oven, she managed to capture a lot of the same magic. You can see the through lines from Red Wagon to Lucky Oven — quality, scratch-made fare, and plenty of original culinary thoughts, without ever losing sight of deliciousness. The contributions of Patisserie-46-trained chef de cuisine Adam Beal are also no doubt shaping the menu and honing the quality of the baked goods that fill the restaurant’s cases.

The spot is not particularly large, but it’s sunny, anchored visually by a charming display of vintage Easy-Bake Ovens, and (on a recent Sunday morning) absolutely thronged by enthusiastic diners.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Let’s start with one of the most ambitious things on the menu, the Steak Sandwich ($14). We didn’t know that we needed a $14 steak sandwich for breakfast until we tried it, but we’re converts now. The steak is tender, marinated in a flavorful chimichurri sauce, and cut into small, easy-to-manage chunks that fill the interior of a housemade ciabatta roll. The steak swims in a potent mixture of aioli, beautifully caramelized onions, and pickled peppers that makes the whole sandwich a veritable umami body slam balanced with enough brightness and heat to even it out. It’s ravishingly good.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Our Brioche French Toast ($9) didn’t look like much on the menu or on the plate. It’s just a couple of big slices of rich bread drenched in eggs and dairy, sauteed on the griddle, and served with a generous schmear of fruit compote. Somehow, however, this stuff transcends its simplicity. The pieces we got were finished perfectly (deeply browned just to the point of charred, but not crossing that line) and had the slightly crunchy, slightly chewy texture that the best pain perdu tends to sport.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

It’s easy to steer an order of eggs Benedict into the realm of the inedible. All it takes is too much salt, too much richness, a broken Hollandaise, or a general sense of dreary excess. The Beeler Ham Benedict ($11) at Lucky Oven has none of those problems. The English muffin base is perfect: chewy and structurally sound but not clunky or difficult to cut. The ham is mellow and flavorful, the hollandaise balanced in terms of quantity and seasoning. The dish comes on in a mild, genial manner, but the more you eat the more you like it.

Lucky Oven’s dedication to scratch fare and sunny, modern ambiance seems to suit the neighborhood perfectly, and the place would seem to be facing just one major problem: whether to expand.

Lucky Oven Bakery
Bakery and Breakfast in Armatage Minneapolis

5401 Penn Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55419
612.252.2262
OWNER / CHEF: Kristy Dirk / Adam Beal
HOURS:
Daily 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
BAR: No
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Not really
ENTREE RANGE: $8-$15
NOISE LEVEL: Amenable din
PARKING: Limited street parking

Overnight French Toast and Recipe Roundup

Garlic lovers’ pesto, salmon with green garlic, fish tacos, Asian tuna salad, maple spice grilled sirloin, spice-crusted salmon with ginger-cilantro yogurt dip, and overnight French toast.

Orange Pecan French Toast and Recipe Roundup

Chocolate wafer cookies, barley and chickpea salad, strawberry banana yogurt pops, cherry clafoutis, garlic mustard, orange pecan French toast, polenta and shrimp, orange thyme rhubarb cream scones, cucumbers and yogurt, and fish stew.

Provencal Peppers and Recipe Roundup

Poached egg, pork belly, and watercress on rice flour potato pancake with bacon-maple vinaigrette; Provencal peppers; scallops with pureed potatoes and green pea cakes; baked chickpea polenta and ramp arugula pesto; French toast with shaved apples and bacon beer brats; breakfast tater tot hotdish; and English pea and tarragon fritatta.

Surprising Valentine Brownies and Recipe Roundup

Horchata and French toast, Valentine brownies with a surprise, and tortellini soup with tomatoes and mushrooms.

Scotch Broth and Recipe Roundup

Cooking brioche French toast with (the assistance of) kids, toasted super muesli, polenta and grits, chocolate cherry brownies, and Scotch broth.

January 4 Recipe Roundup

Winter ambrosia, champagne cocktails, eggs in cocottes with black garlic and awesome photos, New Year’s Puppy Chow, ice cream caramel rolls, eggnog French toast and chilled Christmas punch, and sweet potato-butternut squash biscuits.

December 14 Recipe Roundup

Peppermint Delights cookies; (mostly) homemade broccoli, brown rice and cheddar casserole; chocolate-mint Christmas cookies; orange-cardamom French toast; Little Darlin’ Melting Moments and chocolate-dipped clementine shortbread cookies; porcini, olive, and rosemary focaccia; and Lady Washburn cake with pepermint marshmallow icing.

Maroon and Gold Tailgating Menus

Lori Writer / Heavy Table
Lori Writer / Heavy Table

With University of Minnesota Gophers’ football back on campus this season for the first time since 1982, there’s no better way to celebrate, or tailgate, than with an all maroon and gold menu. From brunch through dinner, from corn and bacon bites appetizers to lemon curd with raspberry dessert tart-lets, the Heavy Table has it covered.

A few key ground rules established by the U of M for tailgating bear mentioning:

  • Gas grills are permitted, but charcoal grills are not. If you can afford the splurge (consider it an investment), we like Weber’s Q-100 Portable Gas Grill, available on Amazon.com for $140. The grill is compact, but is sturdy, with a porcelain-enameled cast-iron grate, and uses standard, easy-to-find 14.1- or 16.4-ounce propane “camping stove” cylinders. It also uses a disposable aluminum drip-pan, which makes for easy clean-up. If you want to upgrade, you can get the version with “wings” to have a handy place to set your tongs, or your beer. You’ll want to allow a half-hour for the grill to cool sufficiently before you can put it back in your car and leave for the game.
  • No glass of any kind is permitted, so break out the plastic or disposable dinnerware. Target usually has a good selection of plastic dinnerware. Williams-Sonoma has an attractive line of outdoor glassware.
  • No kegs or large quantity containers of alcoholic beverages permitted. So, you’ll need to serve your cocktails out of a plastic pitcher or bring a cooler with ice to store your cans of beer. You’ll want a cooler for all your food anyway. Collapsible chairs and folding card tables are nice to have, too.
  • The University provides plastic bags for recycling and for trash.

Breakfast Menu for Morning Games:

Pineapple Orange Mimosas (mix on site; garnish with fresh raspberries or pomegranate seeds when in season)
– Coffee (prepare at home; bring in a thermos)
– Mario Batali’s Eggs in Hell (prepare mixture at home; grill on-site — see recipe below)
– Bacon (par-cook at home; reheat on grill on site)
– Martha Stewart’s Grilled French Toast ( prepare at home and soak overnight; grill on site on cast-iron griddle, cast-iron pan, or Gophers Grill Topper Block M “burger” version. Heat cast iron to high, then lower heat to medium to griddle toast) with raspberry sauce OR
Raspberry Corn Muffins (bake at home)

Lunch or Dinner Menu for Afternoon or Evening Games:

Lemon Crisp Cocktail (winner, creative mixology, Crispin Cocktail contest) (mix on site, garnish with fresh raspberries or pomegranate seeds when in season)
Corn and Bacon Bites (prepare mixture at home; assemble on site)
Piri Piri Grilled Shrimp on skewers with red and yellow bell peppers (marinate at home night before; grill on site) with Mango Puree OR
– Hot dogs or brats, prepared using the Gophers’ Grill Topper (read our review and recommendations for local sources of dogs and sausages here). (Serve with sauteed sliced onions and red and yellow bell peppers; slice at home, saute on site on a griddle or cast-iron skillet)
– Mario Batali’s “Borlotti Beans with Balsamic Vinegar” (prepare at home night before — see recipe below)
– Giada’s Saffron Orzo (prepare at home, ideally morning of) or, as the weather cools, Butternut Squash Soup with Red Pepper Puree (prepare at home night before; bring in a Thermos)
No-Bake Lemon Berry Tartlets with fresh raspberry garnish (assemble at home or on site using either homemade or store-bought lemon curd and pre-made ready-to-fill shells. We used Clearbrook Farms’ Mini Bite-Size Sweet Tart Shells available at Lunds and Kowalski’s. )

Uncle Louis Cafe in Duluth, MN

Eric Faust / Heavy Table
Eric Faust / Heavy Table

The coffee is black, the omelets are thick, and the hash browns are plentiful. When Uncle Louis opened on November 2, 1993, they had one goal: “making the best breakfast in town.” Pizza Luce, the Amazing Grace, and Chester Creek Cafe all offer breakfasts that can rival and sometimes surpass Uncle Louis Cafe, but if you are looking for an omelet, a bottomless cup of coffee, and a hearty tablespoon of whipped butter on your French toast, Uncle Louis is the place.

Eric Faust / Heavy Table
Eric Faust / Heavy Table

Uncle Louis Cafe is the Duluth version of Al’s in Dinkytown. The L-shaped bar is lined with emerald green stools that give customers on the end a full view of the cooks flipping hash browns and cracking eggs. Three eggs with black olives, tomatoes, onions, and green pepper, cheddar cheese, and taco meat make up the Taco Omelet ($6.59), one of the best sellers on the menu. Served with a side of American fries or hash browns and toast, pancakes, or French toast, it is hard to believe that you can get it all for less than $7.

Other popular entrees include the eggs benedict (ham), florentine (spinach), or theodora (gyros meat). Each comes with sides. The French toast or pancakes are popular sides because of the homemade apple cinnamon syrup that are available alongside blueberry and regular syrup.

On April 19, 2007, Uncle Louis Cafe shut down after a serious fire caused by an electrical short. Customers demanded that the cafe reopen, and owner Penny Briddell worked hard to reopen as soon as possible. Half a year later — on November 2, 14 years after the original opening — Uncle Louis Cafe reopened serving up the same menu that they always have.

They have no plans to change, and people would be upset if they did. Uncle Louis Cafe is a black coffee, eggs, and hash browns kind of place that is doing everything they can to meet their goal of  “serving the best breakfast in town.”

Uncle Louis Cafe
520 E 4th St
Duluth, MN 55805
218.727.4518
HOURS:
Mon-Fri 6am-2:45pm
Sat-Sun 7am-2:45pm
OWNER: Penny Briddell
ENTREE RANGE: $5-10