First of all, Cross Lake is a lake near the city of Crosslake. Got that? And after getting one of the best massages I've ever had - anywhere - at Hairafter SPA, I decided to review this quiet little resort town, where I spent a 6/10-17/11 dog and cabin-sitting for a friend who is in Paris. Please understand - I might not bother doing this if Google (or the Crosslake Chamber) listed half the little places I visited here (SEO issues?). So, if in the neighborhood, be aware of these:
- Hairafter for a massage. I have to get massage regularly due to a bad back. Sarah Dagg is certified masseuse, and believe me, she knows her stuff. hairafter.net
- Lake Country Crafts & Cones. I had a Mackinaw Island Fudge waffle cone - their best seller. Kemps doesn't even List this flavor at their site: vanilla, chocolate syrup and chocolate chunks. Exquisite. My wife says the crafts store is good. Open dawn to 10PM. www.lakecountrycrafts.com/
- The Crosslake Mall? I'm not sure it's called that, but a couple blocks off the main drag is a Lundigren's (upscale clothing), a furniture boutique, a chocolate shop, a SPA, a pharmacy, a pizza place, all near the grocery and ACE hardware. Everything you might need.
Now, this is tough. I review restaurants; I've been a paid secret shopper for a high-end restaurant conglomerate. But what is one supposed to expect in a rural area where quite often Applebee's legitimately sets the high bar? With that in mind the
- The Manhattan Beach Hotel has a restaurant on a par with Applebees. This is a compliment.
- Zorba's (no, it's not Greek) is the local Chuck E. Cheese - video games, volleyball, pizza and "Mexican" (see Ox Lake Tavern about local "Mexican").
- River's Edge is supposed to have great sandwiches.
- The Moonlight and The Wharf are on the water - very popular, great fun - stick with hamburgers.
- The Pines is justifiably famous for their hash-browns; just avoid the buffet unless you, like I, ENJOY occasional reminiscences of bad 1950's buffets - a mayonnaise-laden smorgasbord. Just make sure the piece of French Toast you pick hasn't been under heat lamps for hours.
- Norway Ridge would like to be "the upscale" place. Lovely ambiance + true oddities, such as:
1. if a little Rosemary in bread makes it taste good, then a LOT of Rosemary will make it taste better!
2. Eggplant is healthy, but bland. Their solution is to dip it in sourdough batter and deep fry it. The result is unseasoned, greasy, now-unhealthy, mostly still tasteless battered eggplant.
3. While I've had ribs that taste like ham before, I've never had them with a sauce made with horseradish and catsup. I asked. It's not cocktail sauce; they make their sauce with catsup and horseradish. My wife had Prime Rib. Stick with Prime Rib.
- The Ox Lake Tavern. Knowing full well what I was likely in for, I went to Taco Tuesday. I was thinking outside the bun. Why would anyone up here know what Mexican is supposed to taste like? But really, was it worse than Taco John's? No. Try the deep-fired Taco and be sure to lean over your plate so the juices don't drip on your shirt. Or maybe go on Sunday for the meat raffle! Bring your own booze - it's a set-up bar! www.oxlaketavern.com
Leave your gourmet expectations at home and enjoy being placid. Maybe you'll make the subtle transition from placid to serene! There's nothing in Nisswa or Percocet Lakes you need. Listen to Loons, sleep too much and re-discover burgers and ice cream in Crosslake They're there even if Google can't find them! Enjoy!