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Lakes Area Dining: Iven's on a budget is still delicious

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With fame comes fortune.

Or in the case of Iven’s on the Bay, one of the lakes area’s beacons of fine dining, the preconceived notion maybe it takes a fortune to eat at the famed restaurant.

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In some cases this is true. For instance an 8-ounce filet mignon, which is accompanied by rosemary Yukon potatoes, grilled asparagus and a garlic demi glaze will cost you $37. That’s the most expensive item on the menu.

However, many area restaurants are just as expensive. Eat in the metro area and that’s an appetizer. But this isn’t the metro and we’re in a recession. So I visited Iven’s, located north on Highway 371 along North Long Lake, with a Mission Impossible: A three-course dinner for two for less than $50.

My date and I each started with an appetizer. I chose the Thai barbecue spring roll which comes with a sesame cream and chili honey. She chose a spicy tuna tempura roll, with avocado, red pepper, cream cheese, scallions and a spicy mayo. The portions allowed us to share and despite my hesitation for sushi, the tuna exploded with flavor. The spring roll was light, but packed with flavor as well. Both were good choices. On a previous visit, I indulged in the crab cakes and was not disappointed.

For our entree, my guest chose a seared walleye taco with salsa roja, guacamole and sour cream. I gladly picked the steamed mussels with fennel, saffron, white wine and garlic. My choice won. The taco lacked a texture difference, but the walleye was well prepared. The mussels, however, along with the sauce they were swimming in were divine. A garlic toast is a great addition in order to get as much of the delectable sauce as possible.

On that previous trip, I also enjoyed the pot roast sliders, which are made from “Tootie’s famous beef pot roast, caramelized onions and horseradish-roasted garlic aioli.”

Finally for dessert we shared, and it’s a good thing we did. The banana Foster’s bread pudding is served warm with bourbon caramel sauce and fresh whipped cream. It was worth the extra Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers required for eating such a a sinfully delicious dessert. It was warm, gooey goodness that made you wish you had an extra stomach.

A glass of the house wine and my standard lemonade and then the bill. Drum roll please: $39.90. With the company allowed 15-percent tip, I still had $4.10 left in change.

Here’s the disclaimer. We ordered off the small plates menu, but neither of us left hungry.

The standard entrees at Iven’s will run you no less than $20, but you will get an experience. Steamed Chilean sea bass, swordfish, Cajun-seared red snapper and cornmeal-crusted catfish are a few of the items I have yet to see on any other area menu.

Steaks, lamb chops and a Cornish game hen are also available on the main entree menu.

The desserts are all house made and the wine and drink selection are second to none in the area.

It is possible to have a culinary adventure on any budget at one of the main dining hot spots in this area.

JEREMY MILLSOP, sports writer, may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

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Jermey Millsop
My career at the Brainerd Dispatch began May 11, 1999 after graduating from North Dakota State University. My areas of emphasis includes local high school sports, Central Lakes College, the lakes area golf mecca and once a year I dabble in the NHRA when the Lucas Oil Nationals come to Brainerd International Raceway.
(218) 855-5856
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