Two weeks ago visitors to the shores of Lake Nokomis were welcomed by a new food concession stand, Sandcastle. Sandcastle’s co-owners — Chef Doug Flicker of Piccolo, Amy Greeley, and Chele Payer — began the journey to grand opening over a year ago, responding to a call for proposals from The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board for a new venue at Lake Nokomis. Of the many proposals submitted, Sandcastle’s eventually arose victorious.
When we visited Sandcastle on the weekend following its grand opening, the shores of Lake Nokomis were busy and the aromas of Sandcastle’s kitchen were wafting about the area. Directly adjacent from Sandcastle’s order window, three wooden benches line the beachfront, while behind the building there is a grassy, shaded area with additional seating. Future plans include infrastructure upgrades to the seating area and high-top bar seating looking out toward the lake.
Sandcastle’s menu is divided into several categories including starters, mains, sweets, and refreshments; beer and wine are also available. Keeping true to the style of a beachfront concession stand, Flicker offers mostly finger foods for hungry patrons to dive into — his interpretations of hot dogs, sandwiches, wings, and tacos.
In addition to the ginger and horchata water options, a seasonal agua is always available. Currently the seasonal option is watermelon (above left, $3), a mild and refreshing flavor, with natural sweetness thanks to the fruit.
Alongside the watermelon agua, we ordered the Fried Castle Rock Cheese Curds (above right, $6), whose salty bite paired well with the sriracha dipping sauce.
The watermelon salad (above left, $8) combined the sweet, refreshing fruit with the peppery quality of arugula and the vinegar zing of pickled radish. Although the flavors worked, the watermelon came off as more of an afterthought than an integrated part of the dish.
One of our favorite dishes of the day, the bowl of shrimp and octopus ceviche (above, right, $8) packed a myriad of flavors into each bite. Corn tortilla chips acted as the utensil, and scooping a portion of the ceviche onto each chip combined the saltiness of the tortilla with the citrus, spice, and sweetness of the ceviche. Thanks to proper treatment, shrimp and octopus chunks retained their natural tenderness.
Sandcastle’s molasses butter stole the show as a condiment for the hush puppies (above left, $5). The butter had a velvety texture as well as a delightful yet subdued sweetness. The hush puppies themselves had a dense texture and crisp exterior, but would be even better with a more prominent flavor.
The whimsical name of the Dog Flicker (above right, $5) is an obvious reference to the culinary mind behind Sandcastle. The Flicker includes a hearty beef frank in a bun garnished with kimchi and cilantro and topped with a fried egg. The kimchi’s mild heat and pickled bite balanced the beefiness of the hot dog, while the egg provided an additional layer of decadence. It’s an intriguing and delicious take on the classic hot dog.
The BBQ Pork Sandwich showcases a deft preparation of pulled pork (above left, $8) reminiscent of South Carolina-style barbecue. The pork combined a sweet edge with a vinegary bite and a mild smokiness, while the savory onion bun served as not only a vehicle for the pork, but also as a sponge to absorb all the delectable juices.
The American Indian Fry Bread (above right, $7) comprises a large round of fry bread filled with a mixture of ground bison, lettuce, and white cheddar. The naturally lean ground bison had a strong, meaty flavor and a punch of spice, while the oils from the fry bread provided some fattiness. In certain bites, the fry bread seemed too thick, but overall the dish was hearty and delicious.
Food concession stand at Lake Nokomis
4955 Nokomis Pkwy W
Minneapolis, MN 55417
OWNER / CHEF: Doug Flicker, Amy Greeley, Chele Payer / Doug Flicker
HOURS: Seasonal; check website for updated hours
BAR: Beer and wine
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: N/A / N/A
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Limited
ENTREE RANGE: $6-$8