The freshly painted walls and newly hung chandeliers at Como Dockside are beginning to form an image of what is to come: a sophisticated yet approachable space, where families and friends can gather for a lakeside meal or take in a concert on the promenade while sipping an elegant martini.
Now doesn’t that sound lovely?
The remodeled space harkens back to the refined days of yesteryear, when ladies strolled, twirling their parasols, children played unhindered on the grass, and all was right with the world. But the new restaurant at Como Lakeside Pavilion will be far from stuffy. The giant windows overlooking the lake and waterfall will keep things light and welcoming.
New owner Jon Oulman hopes to rekindle St. Paul’s love affair with Lake Como. His St. Paul roots go deep, and he hopes residents and visitors alike will enjoy the pavilion and the lake in all seasons.
His restaurant will act as a gateway of sorts, but the real star is the lake. Activities will abound with a variety of rental equipment and a guided, 30-foot boat to cruise passengers around the lake. The new owners hope to add winter activities as well.
Back inside the restaurant, the rich ebony hue now on the walls pulls the eye directly to the beautiful views outside the windows. The deep wood tones cast an air of comfort and elegant ease. Although the menu had not been finalized at press time, Oulman is excited about what he calls “New Orleans picnic food.” Think po’ boys and mussels, with a few great burgers and some grown-up mac and cheese thrown into the mix.
A full liquor license means you can pair those vittles with anything your heart desires, from a fancy Cosmo to a Hurricane. Oulman hopes to locally source as much of the menu as possible. The fish will all be sustainable fresh-water fish, for example, and the beer selection will be exclusively local.
Remember the tiny window in the back, where on a good day you could pick up some popcorn and a bag of M&Ms? Remember trying to prop yourself up on a boulder to sip your Diet Coke? The patio will now be sprinkled with comfortable seating, and the expanded window will offer a condensed version of the menu, complete with aforementioned local beers and a lovely wine list.
Music lovers need not fear. Oulman and his crew have taken over the music programming from Music in the Park and promise to add as much variety as possible.
“We welcome any and all input from the community when it comes to music, and anything else, really,” he said recently, as we sampled some locally crafted popsicles. “We don’t want to disappoint anybody, and we want the community to know we are listening to the input we received.”
The Como Dockside plans to open after May 1, with hours running from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday.
Alex Lodner writes about food and community news regularly in the Park Bugle.