There's a showy wedding cake decorating the front window at 3 Tiers, but that shouldn't pigeonhole diners' opinions of this charmer of a bake shop that lies between Lake Nokomis and Minnehaha Park in south Minneapolis.
That's because owner Sarah Herr has recently tweaked her two-year-old business beyond the sweets and easygoing breakfasts and lunches she's been serving. She's added a comfortable bar -- stocked with about 20 wines and a handful of beers and hard ciders, all affordably priced -- and an impressive evening menu that seems tailored to casual, drop-in-for-dinner types.
Here's the good news: It's all made fresh to order, portions are generous and there's something for everyone, whether you're in the mood for Mexican (dainty masa cakes topped with a bright salsa verde and bits of crumbled queso fresco), Asian (lettuce wraps filled with fiery chile-laced beef) or American (a crisp wedge of iceberg finished with a pungent blue cheese dressing and toasted pecans).
Larger plates include well-made quiches, a handful of thin-crusted and generously topped flatbreads, a half-dozen sandwiches (everything from meatloaf with horseradish mayo to beef brisket topped with tangy kimchi) and pillowy gnocchi dressed with bacon, sun-dried tomatoes and basil.
Top price is a remarkable $12, although the vast majority are $10 and under. Yeah, the next time the heat prevents me from turning on the oven, I know where I'm dining.
Service is friendly and laid back, and dessert is a no-brainer: Take a stroll to the bakery case. Oh, and fans of Herr's fantastic stromboli, not to worry; it's temporarily unavailable, but will return when the weather cools. "It's just too hot right now," said Herr with a laugh.