A Hot Time with a New Flame

If you are anywhere in the Midwest you may have noticed that it is summer.  For the fourth of July it is traditional to have a barbecue and grill some hot dogs and burgers. It is traditional to go somewhere and view fireworks.

Tradition sounded too hot. Instead of grilling I conspired with David to find a restaurant where we could get someone else to cook and we could relax in an air-conditioned room. Neither of us have AC in our houses because here in MN you really only need it for about two weeks. They can be long weeks though and after several consecutive days of high 90s an escape sounded prudent. We could have gone to a few local places that we know, but the hope was to try some place new that we could review here on the blog. Our first several choices were closed in honor of the nation’s birthday, but we ultimately ended up at Flame.

Until researching for a place to eat on the Fourth I would have guessed that Flame was part of a chain. It has a homogenized feel to the decor and branding that make it seem like they are planning on building a dozen of the same place. Flame is (for now) a unique place and  is owned by the same group that owns Mission and Atlas in Minneapolis, both of which have a pretty decent reputation. So, not exactly family owned, but it is local.

We arrived for an early dinner (5:45) and were seated quickly. I don’t think the Fourth of July is big dining out holiday. The restaurant was only open until 8 that evening, but that would give us plenty of time to soak up their AC and enjoy our meal. After being seated the manager apologized for how hot it was. Having just come from a hot summer day it seemed quite cool, but I have to admit that as I adjusted to the interior temperature I would not have minded being a little cooler. I guess that is what we get for choosing a place called Flame for dinner.

We spent our time looking over the menu and found some appetizers to start with. At my son Max’s request we ordered some onion rings and, in the spirit of Independence Day, I steered us toward an appetizer called Firecracker Chicken.

I thought the onion rings were perfectly cooked and discovered almost too late that they were served with a chipotle mayo dipping sauce. The firecracker chicken used their signature rotisserie chicken with a buffalo seasoning and fried in an egg roll wrapper. It was a pretty good start for a bunch of hungry people.

After contemplating the restaurants signature unlimited salad bar/rotisserie buffet I decided I wasn’t quite that hungry. I did want to try the rotisserie though so I ordered the Cajun-seasoned half chicken, which is served with mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. The half chicken is served with a large steak knife that I guess is meant to be used to cut apart the chicken, but it was completely unnecessary as the chicken fell off the bone. I was glad i ordered the Cajun seasoning because this turned out to be very mild and provided just the slightest kick. I think the chicken may have been a little boring without it. The mashed potatoes were rich and buttery and the grilled vegetables, while a little heavy on the broccoli, gave some contrast to the heaviness of the chicken and potatoes.

Kira ordered the B.A.L.T sandwich, which is their ubiquitous rotisserie chicken with bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato. It looked quite delicious and Kira said she would eat at Flame again based on her selection. This proclamation may or may not have been influenced by the Limoncello Martini that she had with her dinner.

David and Catherine ordered the Wild Rice stuffed Chicken and the BBQ Rotisserie pork sandwich respectively They both looked excellent and I am sure that David will tell you about them. I think we were all a little jealous of the fried onions on Kathrine’s sandwich. Their daughter was adventurous enough to order a Teriyaki Salmon while my kids played it safe with a hamburger (Max) and a quesadilla (Sarah).

Overall the meal was satisfactory. I wouldn’t consider Flame to be an exceptional culinary experience, but everything we had was presented nicely and tasted good, if not amazing. The service was good and they kept our water glasses full. As Kira said, I would go back again.

Even though their AC was not 100% we still lingered over dinner to put off going back out into the heat. We finally went home and took refuge in our cool basement. We decided to forgo the fireworks and celebrate the Fourth of July as our forefathers intended, watching Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum kill some aliens.

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