Fired Up

Edina’s grilled foods sizzle.
Snack on some grilled Italian flatbread from Lela.

July is national grilling month. It’s time to pay homage to grilling. These days grilling goes way beyond hot dogs and hamburgers in the backyard. You’ll be amazed at the range of grilled choices in Edina, from meat to salads to cupcakes and more. Let the locals do your grilling while you kick back and enjoy summer.


When you’re winding down at Lela, don’t miss the Italian flatbread, cut into a mosaic of triangular pieces, perfect for divvying up with friends. This is a happy hour-only treat. Relax and savor your Italian flatbread with a pinot noir from Oregon. Housemade dough cooks directly on the grill, smoldering to a tantalizing singe. A brush of olive oil bakes into a snappy crusty base for ricotta, Parmesan, shaved prosciutto, grape tomatoes and fresh basil. While the Italian flatbread remains on the happy hour menu year-round, the chef may change ingredients to match what’s market-fresh. $7.


Tin Fish
What better place than beautiful Braemar Park to enjoy the bounty of the sea? This seafood grill makes an elegant meal on the secluded patio at Tin Fish. The dish shines with “a melody of flavors from the sea,” says owner Sheff Priest. Everything is fresh-made from scratch, down to the coleslaw, tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. Enticing aromas of Old Bay Seasoning, fresh lemon juice and garlic salt will lure you in. The surprise addition of salsa gives this seafood grill some Latin warmth. The dish includes a chef’s choice of up to four kinds of fish and seafood, including shrimp, scallops, eye-popping pink salmon, mahi-mahi and tilapia. $20, fries $3.


Sal’s Café
A prize of Italian food is tucked among the sprawl of medical buildings along France and the Crosstown. Local doctors and their staff are fortunate to have such a treasure trove of Neapolitan food nearby. Venture in for a fresh roast chicken panini with housemade pesto marinade, spinach, roasted red peppers and provolone. A brush of olive oil seasons the panini press for a good grilling. In goes the stuffed ciabatta bread and out comes an Italian grilled cheese bursting with flavor. The grilled panini, served with chips, is just one of the authentic dishes lovingly prepared by Michael Salvatore (known to his many fans as Sal). This is the Sal’s Place On the Road food truck guy. His warm welcome and mouthwatering food will have you back for more, even if you don’t have a doctor appointment. Tip: There’s a free parking garage on the west side of the building. $7.


McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks
Turn an ordinary day into a celebration or a celebration into an even grander one with a grilled rib-eye steak. Prepared to perfection, the 3/4-inch thick, 13-ounce cut touts extra flavor, according to executive chef Paul Neu. “The rib-eyes tend to have a little more fat. The char factor is better.” A quick hot sear followed by a few minutes more of lower-temperature grilling seals in moisture and a pleasing meaty texture. Neu recommends taking the juicy goodness a step further with a touch of wonderfully woodsy Italian truffle butter. Sides of grilled Roma tomatoes and the vegetable of the day round out this dish. $36.50, truffle butter $3.99.


Convention Grill
Mom never made a grilled cheese anything like this. A triple shot of grilling and an extra slice of bread piles on the Convention Grill double decker. Grilled tomato and grilled bacon nestle between layers of wheat bread. The sandwich stack cooks on a massive grill. The outside sizzles into an impeccably browned toasty crackle. Inside, Muenster and smoky sharp Cheddar make a buttery yet pungent creamy melt. “The grilling is a dimension beyond toasting,” says owner John Rimarcik. “Adding the bacon and tomato really sets if off.” For an appropriately indulgent side, split an order of the Convention Grill’s famous fries with your table. “There’s enough there for a Canadian army,” Rimarcik says. $8.95, fries $5.95, half $3.95.


Sweet Retreat Cupcake Boutique
Make your grilling experience complete—just add sugar. Irresistibly cute cupcakes carry the grilling theme to a sugary sizzle. Start with a fresh housemade vanilla or chocolate cupcake. Cap with a mound of smooth home-style buttercream frosting. Decorative layers transform these iced cupcakes into dollhouse-sized depictions of steaks or hot dogs on the grill. Hot Tamales cinnamon candies for hot dogs and Goetze’s Caramel Creams for steaks look every bit the part. Streaks of edible black marker add a char of grilled-food whimsy. Uniform rows of piped black icing serve as grills atop smoldering coals of orange sanding sugar and edible red glitter. “It’s a sweet treat that looks like something savory,” says owner Stephanie Kissner. $3.50. Available some Saturdays, preorders suggested.


The pork tenderloin is among several new dining options that appeared during the transformation of the Eden Avenue Grill to the Hilltop. New executive chef James Nelsen created the tempting grouping of glazed pork tenderloin, roasted bourbon-bacon Brussels sprouts and baked sweet potato. More goes into this dish than meets the eye. Before grilling, the pork tenderloin marinates in a lively blend of sherry, maple, green chili oil, sugar and spices. “There’s a sweet-spicy going on which makes it very good,” says Nelsen. Should you have any room left after your grilled pork and vegetables, indulge in the show-stopping strawberry shortcake served on a scale for table sharing. $17, strawberry shortcake $8.


Pittsburgh Blue
If you want a grilled steak and a salad too, enjoy them as one in this steak salad. “It’s very simple, very approachable. We use quality meat and our signature spice blend,” says executive chef Anthony Leonhardi. Quick cooking with intense heat of up to 1,500 degrees grills the sirloin steak with expert precision. (Home grills generally do not get this hot.) “Crispy char adds depth of flavor to the beef,” Leonhardi says. The meat-vegetable combination is well suited for summer, although the dish is popular year-round, especially for lunch or as a bar snack. The dish begins with baby field greens, tomatoes, red onions and red peppers. A sprinkle of bleu cheese and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette season the toss. A generous topping of steak steals the show. The dramatic contrast of hot and cold ingredients in this light but meaty dish is delectable. Pair with a glass of Château La Croix Cantenac or Saint-Émilion Bordeaux and you’re on your way to summer bliss. $19.95, wine $18 a glass.


Edina Grill
For a meat and potatoes meal prepared with classic charm, go for the steak and pierogi. Sometimes called Polish raviolis or stuffed dumplings, the pierogi are a long-running favorite with Sunday supper appeal and updated trimmings. “It’s comfort food with a twist. I think that’s what we do well at the Edina Grill,” says Stephanie Shimp, owner. “[The pierogi] pays homage to the up north, working-class roots of Minnesotans.” A marinated 6-ounce steak makes a hearty cornerstone, and golden-brown folds of pierogis are stuffed with a silky mashed potato-cheddar cheese blend. A big dollop of thick horseradish sour cream sauce heightens the pleasure. Crunchy fried onions offset the intense creaminess of the pierogis and sauce. Good news for the kids: A smaller child-sized portion is available. $16.95, kid-sized $8.


The grilled sea bass has an opulent presentation, with distinctive grill marks and plenty of scrumptious extras. Grilling brings out a distinctive buttery finish with a not-too-fishy taste. Fresh colorful vegetables dress up the grilled sea bass with good looks and taste. A bright ratatouille of squash, zucchini and red peppers, and rich roasted cauliflower purée do the trick. “The cauliflower purée has a mashed potato feel but has a healthier kick to it,” says executive chef Amanda Luna. Decorative olive green splotches of flavored oil and feathery micro greens make a nice final touch. Even though the grilled sea bass is hearty, it’s not too filling—just right for a summer evening. $33.95.