Make haste: It’s mighty tasty.
In fact, if a dining critic were groveling for things to carp about, too bad: There aren’t any.
The new Hasty Tasty — repurposing the name of a long-gone local cafeteria — brightens the former digs of Lyn-Lake’s Falafel King. Today it flaunts a jaunty red, black and white setting that calls on (because everybody’s gonna ask, as we did) wallpaper specially designed as a salute to all things Minnesotan (moose, loon, fishing lure) decked out like playing cards on one wall and a vintage train set from the owner’s family attic on another, illuminating the cozy room adjacent to the corner bar.
Speaking of bar: The cocktail list, curated by Bittercube, is downright amazing, in a delightful rather than what-were-they-thinking way. Take, for instance, the Chicken Fried Fizz. The Minted Apple Julep. The Coffee & Donuts. My friend’s sip-worthy Sazarac. And my own Of a Northern Fashioned (whiskey, spruce syrup, bitters, cedar-smoked ice).
Nice beer list too, but not so long or strong on wines.
Strong on wood-fired cooking, though. More good news: Mains and sides all may be ordered in half as well as full portions.
Heed this hint: Stick with the halvsies and you’ll still be served more than enough to overburden your refrigerator (entrees: $12–$18, half; $18–$29, full).
We started with the herb-roasted chicken, often the most boring option on a menu. But not here.
The white meat, served with crispy, fat-laced skin to fight over, proved moist and true tasting. To doll it up, it’s partnered with a pair of sauces, both fine: a bright chimichurri mayo and robustly aromatic curried yogurt.
Next, the smoked baby back ribs — uber-meaty but on the dry side, glistening with a sweet-tart gloss of tamarind. And the lamb meatloaf. The sturdy, fine-textured slices lack a little juice, but that’s remedied by a deeply layered, smooth and subtly smoky Moroccan sauce (beats the usual diner sidekicks). There’s also smoked tofu, untasted.
We paired the lamb loaf with a side of curried spaghetti squash ($9, half). Oh, those sides! I could — and will — make a meal of the smoked grits: a creamy, dreamy, corn-y cloud mined with chewy, full-flavored mushrooms, then gilded with Parmesan and a spritz of sherry vinaigrette.
Also, the King Falafel salad (heh-heh: Get it?), a boisterous combo rampant with chopped kale, smoked beets, sweet and tangy pickled onions, juicy cukes and sesame-infused yogurt, plus (you bet!) meaty, well-seasoned falafel slices. The side of curried spaghetti squash incorporates Brussels sprouts and snippets of pork belly, both appreciated for added pizzazz on the palate and ranking on the year’s trend chart.
There’s also dessert — Lift Bridge root beer floats, pie from Salty Tart — to abet your New Year’s weight-gain resolution, plus a list smaller nibbles such as steak fries, house-made pickles and corn fritters and a trio of sandwiches.
Hasty Tasty (dinner only)
701 W. Lake St.