The announced arrival of Mike Miller’s Let It Fly sports bar concept is part of the big buzz here in Sioux Falls this spring and summer. Miller’s organization apparently had the 57th and Western, home of the Turks and Caicos Caribbean Grille, in their sights. In no time at all, the Turks announced its last day of operation, immediately after which a constant stream of entrepreneurs set to work to transform the place.
I don’t know who came up with the idea for the Bracco concept. Whether you like Bracco, or the Turks for that matter, you have to admit that the space was inviting. I enjoyed sitting in the bright bar where it was not hard to imagine sitting in a bar in the USVI where birds fly out the windows to plunder the supply of fruity drink toppings. It was a unique space. Maybe too unique.
Secret fork:Want to have some good food? It all starts and ends with the seasoning.
Let It Fly solved any debate about interior space by virtually emptying the joint. The bar is where it always has been, but now the whole room is wide open. The exception is what was once a small space near the entrance that was often used for private events. This is now the casino area. As for the color schemes, the natural wood finishes and light colors have given way to a steel blue-gray roughly the same shade as the exterior. The decor consists of basketball jerseys or other memorabilia. But you are not here for an interior design competition. It’s a sports bar.
This means that there are TV screens. I don’t mean 2-3 above the bar and maybe another 4-5 scattered around the room. I mean dozens and dozens of monitors, all tuned to a sporting event. While not enough to compete with a big Vegas sportsbook that looks like Mission Control for a moon landing, it does seem close enough. It will obviously be a very, very attractive place every Saturday and Sunday of the football season and the early days of the March Madness. If you want to watch half a dozen games at a time without having to turn your head or adjust your sitting position, your ship is here.
Let It Fly’s menu could just as easily be the menu at any place in town. Aperitifs. Salads and wraps. Burgers and sandwiches. Wings, pizzas, a few Memphis “starters” and ribs. Seems familiar? I respect the fact that a lot of these products are selling, and there is clearly a segment of the population that cannot get enough Buffalo Chicken Wraps. I want the hidden gems, however. Show me something unique or with a twist or totally over the top on the quality. That’s what we picked up at Let It Fly.
Fried green tomatoes fly
We started, appropriately, with the entrees, focusing on the fried green tomatoes. A staple of Southern cuisine, it’s something you rarely see on a menu in town. Fried green tomatoes are just that – green tomatoes (like in sub-ripe) that are sliced, breaded and then deep-fried.
The end result should be a crispy exterior and a soft interior. Because they’re unripe, green tomatoes don’t necessarily explode in juice and flavor. Instead, they’re a bit pungent and slightly sour, like a sweet pickle. Let If Fly succeeded there. The tomatoes were perfectly cooked. They came out looking like a sushi roll, however, covered in relish, goat cheese crumbles and some sort of sauce. It was difficult to tell where one taste started and another ended. Despite the Goo factor, we decided that the fried green tomatoes would indeed fly.
Pizza Worthy of a Place as a Pinch Hitter
Then we went for pizza. Again, here is a dish where quality and craftsmanship can truly shine and even the simple can be divine. We went for the pepperoni lovers. Yes, that’s a pretty trivial choice, but the description promised “giant pepperoni edge to edge”. Although the menu doesn’t say it and we didn’t ask, the pizzas are about 10 inches in diameter. I would call the crust a sort of hand-thrown style that isn’t too thick or terribly thin.
Secret fork:Harvester Kitchen immediately one of the culinary gems of Sioux Falls
What struck me was the absolute consistency of the pie. It was perfectly round and the crust was a shiny golden brown with rolled edges. In other words, this crust was too perfect. While I would certainly expect any place that produces pizza crusts would benefit from a sheeter, this one had all the hallmarks of a pre-made crust. I liked the tangy tomato sauce and the melted cheese. The cheese masked the fact that the pepperoni weren’t jumbo or edge to edge very well.
Would we eat another pizza at Let It Fly? Probably, but I wouldn’t do my best to do it. We’re putting pepperoni lovers on the waiting list.
The ribs fought
With Mike Miller’s connections to Memphis, it seems natural for him to be the Memphis-style baby back rib ambassador here in his home country. Not quite all of the places that barbecue here in the A United States are considered their own style. Memphis, however, is one of those places and it’s known for its ribs. Memphis twist involves dry friction. Lots of dry rub, but still while cooking the meat at low heat and slow on hardwood to keep it juicy. The sauce is completely a customer’s preference and will likely be served as a side dish. There aren’t too many good ribs, and with a touch of Memphis on these, I liked the way the stars aligned there.
Our half rack of ribs was superb. The sauce was great, but that’s fine with me. They came with generous portions of celery and baked beans salad – basic rib sides. A quick inspection informed me that the ribs were by no means pre-cut. Holding up a fork and the Crocodile Dundee steak knife, I set about remedying this to share the bounty. These coasts fought back, however. After almost pulling the half rack across the table I recalibrated my angle of attack and with a lot more leverage than should have been needed I finally got the job done.
Now, lest you think of me as an idiot who can’t use a knife, let me confirm these were on the hard side. I don’t know what the KCBS standard is, but my own personal standard for cooking ribs means that the meat should cling to the bone, but give in, cleanly enough, to a little pressure. It should have some traction. It is out of the question to gnaw. Sadly, Memphis-style baby back ribs are also on the No Fly list. I hope that’s not the case at Let It Fly’s flagship location in Memphis. Maybe Mike has a rib doctor who can help remedy the situation here. Statistics!
Overall I was disappointed with the food. Everything was fresh, hot and well presented. The service was as friendly and responsive as you would expect in our area. The prices were very much in line with anywhere else in town. Granted, I’m ultimately unicorn hunting and while I wanted to find one or two at Let It Fly, I didn’t. On the other hand, I can most definitely see Let It Fly as a destination to spend a few hours totally immersed in literally wall-to-wall sports broadcasts while drinking cold beer and munching on a few wings.