July 18, 2016

Sips, A Casual Upscale Clear Lake Restaurant

We visited several highly recommended restaurants during our Great Iowa Road Trip. There was only one where the food was so good, I wanted photographic evidence of its greatness, was a Clear Lake restaurant: SIPS North Shore Kitchen & Bar.

Ryan, one of the chefs at SIPS, found out I was headed to Clear Lake and invited my family to dine there. He was tempting me with this baby, the Spicy Tuna Avocado Boat.

Who would've guessed you'd find an appetizer like the Spicy Tuna Avocado Boat in Clear Lake, Iowa? Photo courtesy SIPS North Shore Kitchen & Bar

Who would’ve guessed you’d find an appetizer like the Spicy Tuna Avocado Boat in Clear Lake, Iowa? Photo courtesy SIPS North Shore Kitchen & Bar

I told him that’s the kind of food I love – local and creative – but I was traveling with a 4- and 6-year-old. What could my kids eat there? He told me kids were welcomed, that they have a great kids menu. I was sold.

Dinner at SIPS

Craft beer on the Sips North Shore Bar & Grill patio on a warm summer evening - does it get any better than that?

Craft beer on the SIPS North Shore Kitchen & Bar patio on a warm summer evening – does it get any better than that?

We arrived at Sips for an early dinner on a warm, summer weekday. We found a table on the patio. Perfect!

As much as I wanted sushi, I knew my kids well, and ordered the Lamb Lollipops. Served over a bed of red and napa cabbage with some mint vinaigrette drizzled over it, my whole family devoured them. This ended up being the kids’ favorite part of the meal.

The Lamb Lollipops looked too tempting for my daughter to wait for the picture to be done.

The Lamb Lollipops looked too tempting for my daughter to wait for the picture to be done. The bed of cabbage underneath the lamb tasted great, too.

While we waited for the entrees to arrive, Mr. Wonderful and I ordered some craft beer. I was surprised by the beer list here! Our waitress, Kaitlyn, told us it was one of the best around, and I believe her. I counted seven Iowa beers among dozens of others on the four-page beer list.

 I ordered the Tomahawk Chop with a side of roasted cauliflower, and Mr. Wonderful went with the pan seared lamb served with risotto and the best asparagus.

The Tomahawk Chop comes with caramelized rum apples - yum!

The Tomahawk Chop comes with caramelized rum apples – yum!

My dish was masterfully seasoned and cooked. I didn’t want to share.

Mooch had chicken strips and Farley ordered the steak dinner. Both were served with fries. Kids meals were reasonably priced, especially the steak dinner, between $5 and $6.

Farley contemplating the steak. Should he have ordered the cheeseburger? Deep thoughts by a 6-year-old.

Farley contemplating the steak. Should he have ordered the cheeseburger? Deep thoughts by a 6-year-old.

Ryan prepared dessert for us, and thoughtfully modified them with kids’ pickiness in mind (topping on the side). He brought out caramelized pineapple served with a bourbon and rum reduction, rehydrated star-fruit, candied nuts and a lime yogurt quenelle (which the kids wouldn’t touch). It’s a summer treat that you don’t feel guilty about eating after a big meal, and a strawberry cheesecake.

Dessert at SIPS North Shore Kitchen & Bar - caramelized pineapple and cheesecake (modified for my slightly picky kids).

Dessert at SIPS North Shore Kitchen & Bar – caramelized pineapple and cheesecake (modified for my slightly picky kids).

The cheesecake was rich and delicious and, again, I really didn’t want to share it.

Service at SIPS

Service on the patio at SIPS North Shore Kitchen & Bar was prompt and comfortable with my squirrely kids.

Service on the patio at SIPS North Shore Kitchen & Bar was prompt and comfortable with my squirrely kids.

I’m not sure how many families go to Sips on any given day but Kaitlyn, our waitress, was unfazed with us. We had spills, we had coloring books crowding the table. She rolled with it. She was fantastic!

What’s near SIPS

SIPS North Shore Kitchen & Bar is right next door to one of the main draws in Clear Lake: Surf Ballroom.

Can any kid resist getting on stage? My kids loved being on the Surf Ballroom's stage, where many musical legends have played.

Can any kid resist getting on stage? My kids loved being on the Surf Ballroom’s stage, where many musical legends have played.

The ballroom is free to visit, and you can take a self-guided tour until 4 p.m. If you’re trying to time a visit to both, go around the lunch hour. SIPS has several signature sandwiches that sound like a perfect midday meal, or salads, for those looking for something lighter.

If you go

SIPS North Shore Kitchen & Bar

Where: 444 North Shore Drive, Clear Lake, Iowa

When: Tuesday through Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m.

Find them on Facebook

* * * * *

Iowa Collage

Plan your own road trip!

Check out the Great Iowa Road Trip itinerary here. To learn more about some of the destinations on this trip, visit the blog over the next few weeks. I can’t wait to tell you about these places:

Rustic charm in suburban Iowa at Wildwood Lodge in Des Moines, Iowa

A room with a view at Southshore Inn in Clear Lake, Iowa

Adventure in a Yurt in Clear Lake, Iowa

Fun on the rails with Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad

Get even more inspiration from my bucket lists for Des Moines and Clear Lake!

Comments

  1. Danell Taylor says:

    Your kids don’t like sushi?

    • They’re a work in progress. They love fish, so it’s just a matter of time before they get past the texture or look of something and give it a fair shot.

Speak Your Mind

*