November 25, 2012

Did Someone Get The Best Of JAKE'S?

"I need somewhere to hang my head" after mine and my wife's latest trip Jake's City Grill which was one of our favorites, but I think someone got the best of Jake's and changed some things and it wasn't for the better. Not sure if they swapped out their executive chef for one that isn't the greatest, but they definitely changed one of the best things they had on their menu and that was their fries.

You're not really upset about the fries are you? Yes, yes I am! Jake's used to serve these yummy skinny fries, but now they're serving these typical fires found everywhere. Dear Executive Chef... You set yourself apart from everyone else, why would you change that? You should consider making changes for the better! I'm sure you're still getting people coming in, but on the Saturday night that my wife and I stopped in during the prime time of evening dining, it wasn't that busy. It was even strange when our server walked by and said our drinks would be coming shortly, the bartender is a little preoccupied. How? No one is here!

Well, lets talk about the dishes my wife and I had. As we were getting sat, my wife saw something that looked good and wanted to get. That was their handmade Pizza Rolls with a Caesar salad in the middle of the plate. By the looks of the picture I took, would you eat it? Of course you would! However, if you want an awesome handmade pizza roll, you should consider stopping by Lucky's 13 or Old Chicago. While Jake's version had some delicious sausage, it had very little sauce and almost no cheese. IT'S A PIZZA ROLL! 

I decided to take a stab at their Philly Style - Prime Rib Dip. Where do I start? Again, by the picture, anyone would want to devour this thing just by it's pure size, but its look is deceiving. I hope it wasn't their best attempt at making a prime rib dip and/or Philly, but if it was, I've had far better! Add some flavor to your meat, trust me, it goes a long ways and it's good thing there was au jus, because it was a little dry as well. Remember our fries dilemma? Well... I probably had three fries and left the rest!

I do have a confession to make and I'm hoping the Executive Chef doesn't get his or her hands on it and ruin it and that's their Shrimp & Sausage Chowder. One of the best soups any restaurant has offered and really the reason why I wanted to stop by in the first place. DON'T screw it up Jake's! My wife and I are and have definitely "moved on to someone new..." and I think the Foo Fighters would agree with me as well. If it's not broken, don't fix it! 

5 Minnesota locations to choose from 

November 24, 2012

Just Say ZEST!

While you're trying to figure out what restaurant you're going to eat at, Just say Zest and "just say there's nothing holding you back" from trying something new in town. "It's not a test" my food loving followers, it's just me saying that you should consider stopping by Zest Bar & Grill in Eagan.

When you arrive to Zest, you'll notice the beautiful patio for outdoor dining and when you walk in for the first time, you'll probably be a little surprised at the size of the restaurant with a rather large bar for said size. Zest is more of almost a boutique or cafe style restaurant instead of a much larger traditional size restaurant. My wife and I felt that some of the smaller tables were a little crammed in, but that again comes down to the size. My recommendation... write a letter to their neighbor asking them nicely to leave so they can expand their restaurant, because we really don't need a nail salon at every corner like it's a gas station.

Lets talk about the food now! My wife went with the Parmesan Crusted Sirloin with Yukon Herb Mashed and Grilled Veggies. I'm not a big veggie eater when carrots, peas, green beans or corn are involved, but the mashed taters and the sirloin were really good. Steak was nice and tender, full of juices and flavors while the taters were nice and creamy and full of flavor as well. 

I decided to go with the Zest Mac & Cheese. Yes my friends, another place to get made from scratch mac and I for one think more places should offer a variation of mac at all times. It all starts with; Cavatappi noodles, a three-cheese blend then topped with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Sounds tasty already, but you can add to your mac even more by adding one of the following (for an extra cost); crab (NOT imitation), shrimp, scallops, chicken, short ribs, bacon, carmelized onions or portabella mushrooms. I of course went with the crab and it was very creamy and cheesy as well. I enjoyed every bite, but I would suggest a few things be added that I guarantee would make it an even better mac and that would be, add a little salt & pepper, maybe a little garlic and I took some of my wife's red peppers from her veggies that were full of all of those flavors making my mac awesome! 

Another great thing about Zest is their craft beer selection on tap at all times. Sorry, if you want a Mich. Golden, you'll have to settle for a bottle and I'm OK with that. As a craft beer connoisseur, I enjoy seeing more restaurants offering craft beers from all over the U.S. because there are a lot of great breweries making some really good beers. 

My wife and I are looking forward to heading back to Zest to try some other menu options that caught our attention and if you've been to Zest and tried something else on the menu that we of course haven't, feel free to comment about what you think we should be trying during our next visit. If you haven't been to Zest, "What do I have to say to you" besides what I and Snow Patrol have shared with you to get you to go to Zest? "For god sake..." Stop by Zest already! :)

525 Diffley Rd. 
Eagan, MN 55123 

November 17, 2012

Island In The Sun...

Just spent some time on an island in the sun and that tropical and wondrous place was Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and for this review, I've decided to bring mine and my wife's love for food and our overall trip experience together just for you. Why? Because they go hand-in-hand this time around.

So while my wife and I were wishing it was a place we could call our own... playing and having fun... feeling so fine... and singing along to Weezer, we also made sure to take note of the food that we ate as well. For most people the food that we got to experience while in Punta Cana at the Majestic Elegance Resort, Golf and Casino would be some of the best food they've ever had if they're not big travelers and don't pay attention to the food as close as we do, however we do pay attention to food as well as all the amenities and aesthetics of our resort!

We've had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places like; Jamaica (Sandals Resorts), Mexico (Dreams Resorts) and all over the U.S. During those trips we've of course had to eat and we've had some amazing food during our travels and sometimes they're dishes you just can't get here in Minnesota. We figured that this would be no different traveling to Punta Cana and second in line to the beach life that we love so much, we're always looking forward to having the opportunity to try things prepared by the master chef and their culinary team. Unfortunately, this trip was lack luster when it comes to food and honestly, we've ate better food right here in Minnesota!

I have to start with my biggest no-no right away and that's..... imitation crab meat. Yes, they served imitation crab meat... NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, serve imitation crab meat to your guests visiting you in the tropics of all places! I couldn't believe it when it came out in soup form and after one bite, the bowl was pushed aside. Just a couple days later we tried these deep fried crab puff balls that again were made using imitation crab meat. What was more interesting is that they actually inserted a small and real crab claw into it... WHAT!? They may have tricked someone that doesn't pay attention to what they're eating, but they didn't trick my wife and I!

On to Majestics take on making a steak. Ask yourself this simple question... Is making a steak hard to do? If you answered yes, than you could work for the Asadito Steak House at the Majestic Elegance. If you said no, than you could teach the culinary team there what they're doing wrong and that's serving dry and really tough steak to guests. My wife ordered a top sirloin which is typically pretty tender and delicious, but was far from that and I went for a New York strip that was tough and really dry which is usually full of flavor. To sum it up... I guarantee, my wife and I could have served the guests a better steak with some of our own special marinades and recipes. OR, just take a trip to Woolley's Steakhouse, Lindey's Prime Steakhouse or Porterhouse Steaks & Seafood. As for the decor and plating presentation of food at Asadito... An elegance (pun intended) overhaul is needed and it almost seemed like they were just serving food from buffet warmers.

Not every cut of beef was bad though and we found some delicious cuts at the french restaurant, Limited Gourmand. They actually prepared their steak the right way and the flavor was excellent as well. As for the rest of their cuisine, they definitely were preparing some great food and our favorites were the; Red Snapper wrapped in bacon, Lamb Chops and their soups. The elegance and plating of their food was much better and the team here seemed to know what they were doing.

Lets move on to the Italian restaurant, Il Botaccio. Not really sure where to start and that's because I wasn't impressed with anything at all! While my wife was digging her meals, I was wishing I was eating something from my favorite place back home, I Nonni Italian Restaurant in Lilydale/Mendota. My wife tried their Spaghetti with Lobster Medallion that she really enjoyed while I tried their Gnocchi which was in this really bad tasting gravy and a beef dish that I pushed to the side as well. Meh!

Before embarking on our journey, my wife likes to read as many reviews as she can and one that stood out for me was in regards to the seafood at Sea & Sea. This restaurant sits just off the beach with the sound of the ocean at all times which is amazing. The reviews were 50/50 regarding their ability to prepare a good lobster tail and I would be on the fence. We've had seafood from all over and when traveling to the Caribbean, they should have it mastered. It wasn't terrible by all means which some people stated, but I could see where some of the others who wrote reviews were coming from in that it was juts missing something and not completely prepared right.

The next restaurant 9 Doors is their sushi and teppanyaki restaurant and is the last of the restaurants before we hit the buffet and wrap things up with our overall review. From the Majestic Passport Book - "You will be delighted by the excellent variety of sushi in our sushi bar..." Um, no! First, your culinary team better be able to tell me exactly what fish I'm eating which they couldn't. Second, you need to be able to use more than two species of fish and tempura shrimp which is cooked and imitation crab doesn't count. Third, chicken isn't sushi either, but it was a funny attempt and not that bad with their sweet & sour sauce. We sat at one of 9 teppanyaki tables with our new friends we met from Nashville, Jill and Jenn along with another small group traveling together. Not much to say really, because honestly, as the old saying goes... "If you've seen one, you've seen them all...", but it was good.

Finishing up with the food is the buffet, The Flavors. With something new every night to choose from that includes food from all over the world, but it is just a buffet. The Sea & Sea also serves as a buffet for breakfast and lunch, but isn't as broad of a selection as the main buffet. It does however have the better omelet cook! :) Flavors had some really good dishes as well as some really bad ones and I'm going to focus on the good ones. I'll just list the ones that my wife and I liked. Mangu which is mashed plantains, Chicken Mole, Fajita Steak, the full Turkey that I was allowed to dig into myself, the Pig Cheeks the chef let me take off the head myself, the entire Spanish night and these cinnamon sugar covered custard filled pastries that were similar to a pop over were all awesome!

I honestly believe between my uncle Al, mother Linda and myself, we easily could've served some dishes to the guest that would have been memorable. My wife and I typically take pictures of these dishes when we travel to tropical destinations, but this time around, that wasn't the case. There just wasn't much to brag about at Majestic in terms of food. As for the rest of the resort in my eyes, I think the rooms were pretty nice and the pools were plentiful. If you have a butler room, don't expect to see your butler much once he drops you off at your room. You have no way of contacting him to have him do something for you unless you're in your room, but who is ever in their room? I would say of all the places we've been to, it's the best beach with no rocks and the only time you see seaweed (sometimes a problem for people) is in the morning during a brief high tide time and it's cleaned up immediately by staff as the tide subsides during the morning hours. 

Earlier I mentioned visiting some other resorts in Jamaica and Mexico and I wanted to make sure to briefly rank and provide the entire list of the places we've visited. If you, my reader is ever thinking of visiting one of these countries, hopefully this will help. Starting with our favorite, we would send you to Mexico to stay at the Dreams - Riviera Maya. This place was absolutely phenomenal, the perfect size resort for our liking and the food was amazing. It's also the place where my wife and I got married. If Jamaica is on your wish list, our second and third can be found here. Check out Sandals - Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay. Easily some of my favorite food I've ever had, the perfect size resort and the staff is awesome and personable. The other and third place resort is Sandals - Ocho Rios. This resort is a little larger and is actually separated into two wings, the beach front area and the hills. While the food is still the same amazing Jamaican food, the beach is much smaller and limited. Finally and yes you guessed it, the last place would be the Majestic Elegance. Although the beaches were amazing and our favorite, the overall experience, condition and food just didn't cut it for us and we often found ourselves saying we were spoiled at the other places. 

We even took a trip up to the Hard Rock - Punta Cana which was far too large for our liking, but was very cool and their Brazilian restaurant, Ipanema was outstanding so we know the food isn't bad everywhere... We would consider going back to a resort in Punta Cana, it just wouldn't be one of the Majestic resorts. So, where are you planning your next trip to? Where ever it might be, hopefully the food is amazing and you enjoy yourself as well. My wife and I like great food and amenities when we travel and "will never feel bad..." sharing our truthful and hopefully helpful experiences. You should get to experience the very best as well! :)

November 3, 2012

If I Close My Eyes Forever...

If I do close my eyes forever, will the taste go away? That's how I felt after eating the disgusting sushi my wife and I decided to eat at Kami Japanese Steakhouse and I'm thinking Ozzy Osbourne himself would think so as well. I would even guess that someone like Ozzy would "stick a dagger in it!"

Lets start with the name... I mean really, Japanese steakhouse? It should read, Kami Swamp Water Sushi & Some Other Food! My wife and I really do enjoy sushi and we've had sushi literally all over the Twin Cities. We've found some great places, good places and down right disgusting places. Kami just so happens to be one of those disgusting places. When our sushi rolls arrived to our table, the first thing we both thought was something was smelling a little too fishy and after my first bite, it was apparent that this place decided to shop for their fish from some supplier that gets its product from the bottom of a swamp in the backwoods of some forest in Minnesota.

For those of you who enjoy sushi, does it bother you when you order sushi and when you pick it up, it falls apart? Yeah? Me too! Seriously, who taught some of the sushi chefs out there, particularly Kami's how to do sushi rolls? Time to find a new career if you can't roll a simple sushi roll correctly...

As for the rest of their food... Well, if you like your steak to be a little more like chewing gum, you'll enjoy their steak, so how they think they're a steakhouse is beyond me! The chicken however wasn't all that bad with a lighter batter and you can never go wrong with a little edamame.

If you want some decent sushi, stick to places like; Saji Ya on Grand Ave., Asia Bistro in Woodbury, Kyoto Sushi in Eagan or Seven Sushi & Steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis. If rotten fish is your thing, have fun at Kami and maybe you'll want to try a place like Sushi Tango in Woodbury and elsewhere or Osaka Sushi in Richfield.

I know I've been so hard on you, and these are definitely not lies and I don't need any wishes to wipe the tears from eyes for how terrible this place really was! :) I have a feeling this place is going to remain unchanged, so I'm just going to take Ozzy's advice and close my eyes and forget about this place...