Disclaimer: Lone Oak Grill officially opened for business on Monday August 6th, the day we visited with four other adults. As I have stated many times in the past, I completely expect service issues in the first few weeks but I do not excuse poorly executed food at all. Take the remainder of this review with as much salt as you deem necessary following this disclaimer.
From the first moment I heard that a new restaurant was replacing Joe Senser’s in Eagan, I was truly interested in seeing what would be able to take over the cavernous and darkened space that was Joe Senser’s. I was hoping that someone would come along and revamp the space into a warm and inviting restaurant serving some really excellent food in an area which is nearly devoid of anything decent. So when I heard that Lone Oak Grill was opening, I couldn’t wait to try it out.
The space had been completely redone and a new patio which almost begged me to sit and enjoy an evening with friends welcomed us as we walked in the front door. With a gas fire pit roaring and a busy bar area, I could definitely see the after-work happy hour crowd really digging this spot in Eagan. With a party of 6 adults and 1.5 children we were seated in the back room, apparently the only place which could adequately handle a group our size.
Our server was friendly, helpful and fairly knowledgeable. For someone one their first full day of service, he seemed pretty confident and certainly eager to please. While he later stated he had been nervous when I pulled out the camera to take photos of the food, he showed nothing but professionalism, honesty and interest in making our meals as pleasant as he could. Honestly, I was really impressed with his work and I hope my tip showed it.
While waiting for the entirety of our party, the majority of us looked over the menu and placed orders for appetizers which took up a good portion of the available options. We ordered: two pounds of the ghost wings, the Ellsworth Cheese Curds, Fried Pickle Spears, and the Onion Rings. If anything, they definitely have a nice variety of options available for appetizers and while the prices are extremely high, I wouldn’t mind returning after work some day to try some of the others.
After a fairly short wait our appetizers arrived. The two one pound portions of ghost wings ($10.50/ea) were not meaty and could have competed with BW3 on an average day. They were bright orange, something which I am completely surprised considering the ghost pepper base. Every single person (including The Wife and two individuals who have never had ghost peppers before) were able to eat the wings. While the others at the table said they were hot, they definitely were not even close to the level of heat that I would expect from ghost wings. We explained to the waiter that an item like “ghost wings” on your menu is going to attract people who really enjoy a lot of heat and if you continue to deliver what they did last night, they’re going to have some pretty angry chiliheads on their hands. Honestly, if the waiter hadn’t returned with a bag of dried ghost peppers to prove they were made with the chilies, I would have continued to seriously believe they were using Extra Hot Frank’s and not ghost chilies.
The Onion Rings ($7.50) were huge but luke-warm (as were all of the appetizers) and were served with a runny BBQ sauce which really didn’t do much for us. The Fried Pickle Spears ($7.50) with beer ranch were pedestrian at best and with four pieces, we paid nearly $2 for a 1/4 of a pickle which probably came out of a bulk jar of 100 from Sam’s Club across the street for $6.50 total. The Ellsworth Cheese Curds ($9.75) were the darling of the entire evening. Light and fluffy with a crisp batter, dipped in the misnamed “Mixed Berry Ketchup” which was really a berry compote, these weren’t State Fair quality but were certainly enjoyable and had several people at the table saying they’d come back for more of those. While the price, like all of the other appetizers, was a bit too high for my tastes, they were plentiful enough to make me agree that they weren’t all that bad.
After the appetizers arrived we placed orders for a good number of items from nearly every section of the menu: The Oak Burger, Pepperoni Flat Bread, Tempura Bacon, Reuben, Shrimp Po Boy, Ribs and Chicken, and “Andrew’s Favorite” for The Rooster.
The Oak Burger, ordered rare, topped with lettuce, tomato, Tillamook cheddar and an onion jam should have been a 16oz behemoth to make up for the $10.50 price tag on the menu. Unfortunately the paltry and medium to medium-well cooked patty which arrived had me rolling my eyes. One of my dining companions was nearly begging me to cut it open because he was calling it as ‘medium’ from the second it arrived at the table and he let out a small giggle of delight when it was proven he was right. After asking for it to be returned to the kitchen to be cooked rare, a patty which was completely and utterly raw beef was returned to me and was more or less a flavorless glob of nothing. Seriously, and it pains me greatly to say this, but I found a burger which was worse than what I had at Ernie’s Pub in Burnsville. Yes, you heard me right, worse than Ernie’s Pub in Burnsville. Disgusting.
The Reuben ($11.50!) had some really tasty and hearty meat but with a mustard lacking any and all punch and sauerkraut which wasn’t sour coupled with the boring and soggy bread made for one incredibly expensive and boring sandwich. On top of the huge miss that was the sandwich, even the limp and improperly seasoned fries were a disappointment as well. The Ribs and Chicken ($17) came with fall off the bone tender ribs but the meat was dry, tasteless, and came with a BBQ sauce that really needs some serious work. While I didn’t try any of the Shrimp Po Boy ($11.25) I was told it was full of dry and overcooked shrimp and was the second worst item on the table last evening. The Pepperoni Flatbread Pizza ($10.50) looked too thin and was apparently too doughy and nothing like a flatbread pizza should be. While I didn’t try any of it, it looked like any old frozen pizza could have blown it out of the water.
While you would think that after reading the hall of fame failures listed above that the Tempura Bacon appetizer ($9.00) with its house-made ponzu sauce and cilantro-radish salad would have stolen the show. However, Lone Oak Grill’s kitchen staff is so incompetent they can’t even get bacon right. That’s right folks, whoever was working in the kitchen last night messed up bacon so very badly that every single person at the table who tried it didn’t even want to finish it. This needs to be repeated just so you understand: Lone Oak Grill screwed up bacon so very badly that we didn’t even want to eat it. If this isn’t a sign that no one should ever step foot in that restaurant again, I don’t know what could possibly deter you more.
While the dessert menu hasn’t been finalized yet, The Wife was in the mood to continue to dig the hole deeper and ordered a piece of Key Lime Cheesecake. Aside from being adorned with an artfully sliced thin piece of lime, this was your typical straight from the freezer, mass-produced cheesecake which was overthawed and nearly melted. While it tasted fine, it wasn’t $7.00 fine. In fact, I was seriously tempted to argue with the waiter about the $7.00 price tag but after seeing that three adults and one 2.5 year old rang up a $90 bill, I figured it wasn’t worth the effort–clearly this place has Minneapolis aspirations and Elko/New Market-quality kitchen staff.
Overall I was completely unimpressed with the meal we had at Lone Oak Grill in Eagan last night. While there is a chance they could turn things around, their large space (seating more than 300 people including the patio) coupled with a huge and aggressive menu doesn’t bode well for them. It’s fairly apparent that the kitchen isn’t staffed with people who are skilled enough to pull off acceptable execution of a menu which is priced about 20% too high for what amounts to burgers, sandwiches and appetizers. If they continue on their current trajectory, look for them to be shuttered within the year. If they take the time to pare down the menu some and work on really perfecting a few items which could really be stellar if they had the time to prepare them properly, this could end up being a fairly decent after-work happy hour and dinner spot. However, because they couldn’t even make us like their bacon, I am not holding my breath.
Have you ever eaten at Lone Oak Grill in Eagan? If so what did you order and what did you think? When you see ghost wings on a menu do you expect something which equates out to slightly-hotter-than-average Buffalo wings? Are you appalled by the fact that they screwed up bacon?! Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Lone Oak Grill
3010 Eagandale Pl
Eagan, MN 55121
See all the pictures from Lone Oak Grill in Eagan on Flickr here.