I stopped in the other day at Lake Wine & Spirits, 404 W. Lake St., Minneapolis in search of a fast, cheap lunch, and found just what I was looking for: a 10-item sandwich menu that ranges from $4.50 for the Mozzarella, with pesto, fresh tomato, arugula and balsamic vinaigrette to $5.50 for a ham and blue cheese sandwich with garlic spread, arugula and shallot confit. Other offerings include the Sopressata salami sandwich with goat cheese, arugula and sun-dried tomato sauce ($4.50), and the Turkey Brie, and Turkey Rachel, both $5. The sandwiches are assembled to order, and heated in a high-powered convection microwave oven.
Shown here is the Kim-Cheez, made with spicy Korean kim chi and fresh cheese curds, $4.50 for the vegetarian version, and 50 cents more with a generous layer of roast pork. With a can of San Pelegrino Pomelmo (grapefruit) pop, imported from Italy (99 cents) my bill came to $5.99 plus tax. As a lunch, it was more than ample, and a lot tastier than the usual fast food meal. The kim chi added a spicy bite to the sandwich, and the grapefruit pop (made with 16% real fruit juice) was livelier and more refreshing than the usual cola.
A quick trip to a nearby Wendy’s confirmed my hunch — my lunch combo from Lake Wine & Spirits was actually cheaper than the combo meals at the fast food chain, where some of the premium hamburgers are over $5, and prices for the combo meals (burger, fries and soft drink) top out at $7.59.
Of course, it isn’t quite a fair comparison, since you get a lot more food with the Wendy’s combo, which includes a side of fries and a soft drink. You also get a lot more calories and fat. The half-pound Wendy’s Hot n Juicy double burger weighs in at 840 calories, more than half of them (450) from fat. That small order of French fries adds another 310 calories, almost half of them from fat.
Lake Wine & Spirits’ cheese shop also offers a great selection of domestic and imported cheeses, plus baguettes from the Salty Tart, and a lot of oils, vinegars, pastas and condiments. The cheese shop is nested inside the wine and spirits store, which features a big selection of liquors, wines, beers including many local craft beers.
As a cheapskate at heart, I’m especially fond of the mix-and-match six-for-$36 section wine section. The selection changes from week to week, and lot of the bottles in this section are what you would expect to find in a bargain bin — decent, drinkable but undistinguished wines from Spain, Argentina, Italy or California. But every once in a while, something really interesting and unusual shows up – a Spanish cava, or a French sparking wine from Burgundy, or an odd vintage from Hungary, Austria or even Brazil. And at $6 a bottle, you can’t go too far wrong.