Step up to the well-lit bar at Surdyk’s Flights, and all anxiety melts away. Chat with the friendly staff, order a Bellini, and wile away the time before your flight without succumbing to the gray-themed decor, cramped quarters, and screaming children that inevitably share your waiting time at the gate.
A veritable haven for the food- and wine-obsessed, this new wine market and bar seems out of place in the hustle and bustle of the just-past-security airport mall, a place where every stand, every shop’s sole purpose is to sell you something on-the-go (a bitter depth charge, a trashy magazine, a new SkyMiles credit card) before you head off to your final destination in some other locale. Here, an entire wall is lined with floor-to-ceiling shelves of wine. Deli cases are filled not with plain ham or turkey sandwiches, but instead with long, stick-like baguettes stuffed with prosciutto and arugula and plastic boxes filled with fresh salads and cheese plates. Minneapolis-made chocolate bars from local chocolatier B.T. McElrath are prominently featured; so are buttery croissants and colorful French macaroons. High-backed booths and gleaming bar stools beckon you to sit back, relax, and enjoy.
The Surdyk family was present at their grand opening event last Tuesday night, and it was clear they are excited to expand. “This is something my father would never have done,” said Jim Surdyk, whose 24-year-old son Taylor is CEO of the new venture. Clearly, this new endeavor is indicative of the modern Surdyk’s business plan– one willing to tap into new and uncornered markets while working to provide old-school service, attention to detail, and artisanal ingredients and combinations.
Each detail in the Shea-designed space was made to Surdyk’s specifications, including the bright red façade of the pillared storefront and the faithful replica of the original liquor store sign. For continuity with the airport theme, drinks sport names like the “Mile High Margarita,” “DC-3” (after an aircraft), and “Concealed Weapon” (referring to the bite of jalapeno-infused vodka, muted by sweet pineapple and orange juices). Checks are delivered in passport-style folders; candy cigarettes provide a throwback to days gone by, when indoor smoking and the three-martini lunch were commonplace.
Gone are the days of soda and peanuts – Surdyk’s Flights, along with other local establishments French Meadow and Ike’s, offers the chance to eat, drink, and fly in style. On a recent visit, we watched in envy as employees put the finishing touches on a “First Glass,” a drink with Valdoro Prosecco, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and a perfectly balanced hibiscus flower that seemed to sprout and unfurl from the stem of the glass. A carefully chosen beer list features a respectable mix of Belgians, domestic craft beers, a smattering of mainstream standbys, and locally owned options (Flat Earth, Summit, Lift Bridge, and Crispin).
The fare, as we tasted, was of the quality we expected from a Surdyk’s establishment. High-quality fresh mozzarella and Salami and Roasted Peppers ($12) weren’t overwhelmed by the chewy baguette sandwiched on either side; prosciutto wrapped around arugula produced a peppery complexity that was nicely complemented by a light dash of oft-overused truffle oil. A fresh fig stuffed with blue cheese and candied walnut was particularly delightful: a yielding texture, with a lovely combination of sweet fruit, pungent cheese, and sweet / spicy crunch. This fig, a must-try, will be included on the three- and five-cheese plates ($11 / $16). Complemented with a nice white – we particularly enjoyed the body of the Rombauer Chardonnay ($26 / glass) or the crisp, clean-tasting fruit of the Famega Vinha Verde ($6 / glass) – you truly can’t go wrong.
Though Surdyk’s Flights probably won’t become a weekly hangout spot for those of us outside the frequent flyer club, it’s truly found a niche in the otherwise dreary Lindbergh Terminal. Next time you travel, stop by the wine bar, pick up a treat, and remind yourself that flying doesn’t have to be a drudging means to an end — you can enjoy the trip with some of the same amenities you’d get in Nordeast.
BEST BET: Local cheese notwithstanding, the warm, sweet, blue cheese-stuffed fig is reason enough to get a cheese plate.
Surdyk’s Flights Wine Market & Bar
Terminal 1-Lindbergh — Mall
Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport
4300 Glumack Dr
St. Paul, MN 55111
CHEF / OWNER: Mary Richter / Taylor Surdyk
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: No / No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $9-12