A Minneapolis classic. The clubby, oak-lined dining room on the 12th floor of the Store Formerly Known as Dayton's is famous for its popovers, warm service and classic department-store fare.
The restaurant, on the 12th floor of the store that many Minnesotans will probably call Dayton’s until their dying day, opened for business on Oct. 2, 1947, part of a major expansion of the now-landmark building. While the store around it has gone through countless alterations in the intervening decades, the Oak Grill seems to quietly, implacably endure, a true classic. Say what you will about the store’s assimilation into Macy’s, but to many died-in-the-wool Daytonians, it feels as if the powers that be are shrewdly leaving the food division, a crown jewel if ever there was one, to its own savvy devices. If anything, the fare at the O.G. is better than it has been in recent memory. Meatloaf, moist and dense, is accented with pine nuts and spinach, creamy mashed potatoes and a savory gravy. The pot pie is a hefty, hearty thing, a puff pastry concoction with plenty of tender chicken and colorful carrot-pea accents. There’s plenty of cool crab and poached shrimp in a plentiful toss of greens and avocado. Wild rice soup is thick and satisfying. Even the burger, paired with fries and a luscious coleslaw, is right on the money; ditto the chocolate icebox pie. The store uses its Culinary Council, a group of nationally known chefs, to spice up the menu: Crispy, spicy rolls stuffed with shrimp and ginger. A tasty chicken salad brims with pesto, pistachios and tart apples. Crab cakes put a decadent twist on the BLT formula. Cinnamon-dusted Braeburns, flavorful shears of pork and a cranberry-orange vinaigrette make for a fine early-autumn salad. Avant-garde, no, but honorable cooking, absolutely, and a decent value to boot; most prices are under $12. During the busy lunch rush, there's a convenient express elevator from the store's first to 12th floors. (Rick Nelson, 9/27/2007)