Within the rapidly changing Warehouse District of Minneapolis, with its confluence of old and new, hides Dalton & Wade. Dubbed a “whiskey common” by its owners, the whiskey-forward restaurant inside the trendy T3 building is one of the latest openings in the burgeoning area.
The interior of Dalton and Wade is similar to Eastside, with elements of Borough and Freehouse thrown in — like some sort of restaurant remix. This may come as no surprise, as co-owners Daniel O’Brien, Paul Abdo, John Abdo, Corey Abdo and Sean Geraty each a business background that includes ownership of multiple state fair booths, MyBurger, and the Nicollet Island Inn as well as real estate holdings.
The drink menu, however, has more novelty to offer, with seven different takes on the Old Fashioned, a handful of classic cocktails, and several other signatures, including lesser-known spirits. With over 250 bottles of brown spirits lining the bar, drinks are center stage.
One of two classic Old Fashioneds is the Wade, made with Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam rye, spiced orange syrup, bitters, and cherry ($10). In contrast to the boozy punch of the original — beloved by many — something in the proportions of this version makes it extremely approachable. Whether it’s the multiple ice cubes or the strong fruit notes, the composition is flavorful but not punchy. Those looking to ease into aged spirits may enjoy starting here.
The Highlander ($10), on the other hand, is stark and unadulterated. Naked Grouse scotch works well with both the herbal green chartreuse and the licorice-forward Angostura amaro. The scotch isn’t peated or smoky, and it blends into its surroundings. The combination of ingredients is earthy and warming. On the unfortunate side, the glass smelled of dish sanitizer, and the evergreen sprig didn’t contribute to the flavor in any way (perhaps it was confused with a true spruce tip).
For a taste of Japanese whisky, rightfully gaining steam in the Twin Cities, try the Shibumi ($9), which showcases Suntory Toki, along with orange oil, sage, and seltzer. The cocktail is oddly thin, with a body that doesn’t stand up to the potency of the spirit. That being said, the smoky whisky itself is prominent and enjoyable in this dry and effervescent application.
Somehow the space doesn’t feel cohesive, and that is, in part, due to the distracting and erroneous assumption that Western equals Southern. There is an immense lighting shade made of leather belts, and the walls have murals of bison and other John-Wayne-esque accoutrements. Yet the food is north-meets-south: hush puppies, chicken-fried steak, shore lunch, and hot dish. This is a combination that the founders call “Roadhouse,” a concept that’s entirely lost, based on the environs.
The cohesiveness issue is further highlighted by the stern divide between dining and drinking: The bar has plush, comfortable stools, attentive service, and warm, whiskey-tinted lighting. The dining area, on the other hand, is sparse to the point of drafty with dinerlike chairs and tufted pleather booths.
Notable bar snacks include the Country Garden Plate ($9, above), a mix of crudites, pickled vegetables, deviled eggs, and fried green tomatoes. The heavy cornbread coating on the tomatoes was passable only because the other items on the plate were lighter fare. The Brisket Burnt Ends ($10), which are smoked in house, were well-developed and marbled and came with a side of molelike sauce. On the substantial side, the classic Patty Melt ($14) was juicy and satisfying and appropriately served on toasted white bread.
Dalton and Wade, 323 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401; 612.236.4020. Mon-Thu 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sat 4 p.m.-1 a.m., Sun 10 a.m.-10 p.m.