“I’ll have the calamari, please.”
What does this statement say about you? It says you’re a reckless gambler — a steely-eyed, wooden-faced model of composure stretched over an interior that’s quaking with insecurity, fear, immediate buyer’s remorse, and the tenuous thrill of hope that this time, you might, maybe, possibly (“I’m due!”) scratch off that final box on your ticket and be rewarded with a rock-solid plate of deliciously fried squid that makes you jump up on the table, pump your fists, and yell “THAT’S HOW IT’S DONE, SON!!” to no one in particular.
That moment — the big win — is all too rare. More often, we fritter away our hard earned cash on greasy baskets of suspect rings thickly breaded and accompanied by an unidentifiable mayo-based sauce, along with a lonely lemon wedge that looks like a tired old beauty queen trying to cling to her long-gone radiance.
It’s so sad.
But! When it’s right, calamari is a fleeting miracle. A basket of beautifully fresh squid that’s been lightly dredged in flour, kissed briefly with hot oil, and eaten quickly before its glory fades is a marvelous thing, redolent of sunshine, cold beer, and summers on patios. In the depths of winter, we need a reminder of those moments that seems so far away. We need to remember.
Thus, we recommend that you high-tail it to Icehouse Mpls for your wintertime fix of cephalopod. On a recent late night over excellent cocktails, we ordered the Calamari & Pickled Vegetable Fritto Misto from the Snacks menu. We kept our poker faces until it arrived, but it was an ethereal basket of light, flavorful, crisp calamari, tossed with a variety of pickled and fried vegetables: carrot, jalapeno, cauliflower, and more. The overall impression was revelatory — the bright pickled veggies brought a welcome balance to the sweet squid, recalling excellent tempura. The calamari itself was light, non-greasy, and perfectly cooked.
Icehouse is a consistent bet for adventurous, high-quality cooking. Along with a fine music program and excellent house cocktails, the calamari is another feather in their cap. This simple dish of fried squid sent us out into the cold night happily recalling the summer gone by and the one yet to come — we felt like we won the lottery.
Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404; 612.276.6523