Apr 13, 2019 02:15AM
● By Scott Gilyard
Photo credit: Emma Freeman Photography
A few years ago, we signed up for a cooking class that was hosted and taught by Anne Ahmed, owner and chef of a restaurant in Brooklyn Park named Lemongrass. You couldn’t happen across Lemongrass if you tried, at least not from the further western suburbs, but it was a worthwhile destination if you made the effort.
During the class so long ago, we were impressed with Anne’s enthusiastic knowledge and wealth of information about her unique recipes, the details of the ingredients we may not have been familiar with, and where to buy them. Thankfully, Anne has decided that her knowledge of Asian flavors and cooking deserve an expansion to the west metro, in the name of Lat14. It opened this fall in what was formerly Perkins restaurant in Golden Valley.
Her team has totally reconditioned this spot into a clean-lined, comfortable, hip feeling space. She has acquired, or brought with her, some chef/kitchen and bar help with pedigrees across town, including stints with many of the current top restaurants in the Twin Cities - and as far away as Hong Kong.
Dishes are prepared to eat as your own, but portions are large enough to share and there is a comfortable leaning toward that at Lat14. Unless you have landed on your favorite already, we recommend you work your way across the menu. You may want to take in several starters and entrees to get the full breadth of Anne’s kitchen and the tastes of the Asia she is representing. The cuisines come from the countries of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines and other countries you may be more familiar with the food from, like Vietnam.
Our favorite starters include snow crab wontons, lumpia, and at brunch, the breakfast egg roll with Sriracha ketchup. All great beginnings. For main courses: the meek ka tee is a red curry coconut broth that tastes homemade-hearty and fresh at the same time. The bacon pineapple fried rice is as good as it sounds. And the pad thai is one of the best we’ve ever had; delicate noodles in a rich sauce that blends the right amount of sweet, salt and vinegar.
These items are also nicely paired with some of the most interesting cocktails you will find in the Cities. Many of the cocktails will help balance (cool) the heat from some of the bolder dishes. Others are just plain beautiful and named after the primary fruits or flavors that form their base (i.e. Coconut, Cucumber, Jasmine, and our favorite, Anchan, which carries the beautiful purple of the butterfly-pea flower found in Indonesia). All of them can easily stand alone as well.
The restaurant attracts a blend of curious locals of all ages, younger foodies exploring interesting cuisine and cocktails, and on Saturday for brunch, there was a solid mix of families with kids and friends out for a long catch-up over brunch. Parking is just like it was for Perkins, so plenty of spots - easy in and out.
Lat14 brings an interesting twist on Asian dining within easy reach, and brings the experience and creativity of an owner who wanted to serve a broader group of people through expansion. It is a nice addition to the inner/outer ring western suburbs and, like Lemongrass, is worth the drive as a destination as well.